Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’

Wait, Shelley Duncan Can Do….WHAT?

To try and get my mind off what was by far the most embarrassing loss of the season, I figured I would have a little fun in light of everything that happened yesterday.

 

 


Former Yankee Shelley Duncan is now on the Indians 

As most people probably noticed, former Yankee sparkplug Shelley Duncan is currently a member of the Cleveland Indians. Duncan, an on-and-off Yankee from mid-2007 through 2009, was a fan favorite; his silly antics and patented high-five were part of his personality and fans accepted him into the Yankee lifestyle.

 

His trademark high-five, by the way, once fractured Kim Jones’s hand. It was for real!

 

 


Duncan's high-five once hurt Kim Jones! 

A strong majority of Yankee Universe (including myself) loved how Duncan fit in when he first made it to the majors. In fact, he smacked five home runs in his first 22 at-bats. His great numbers in the minors at first seemed to be translating to the majors very well.

 

Unfortunately he could not keep it up towards the beginning of 2008 and was demoted back down to Triple-A, only to be called up and sent down sporadically over the next two years. If you ask me, Duncan is in between; he is too good for the minors but not good enough for the majors.

 

That’s probably the worst spot to be in.

 

However, his numbers and his career do not make him any less awesome. At least not according to a website I came across awhile back.

 

A lot of people are familiar with the “Chuck Norris Facts” site and…well…I found one for Duncan. Whoever created this bizarre yet strangely amusing site obviously loves the Yankees and (from what it looks like) had a thing for Duncan.

 

On this site, there were over 450 of these “Shelley Duncan Facts” listed. I have rounded up my top 10 “facts” about the former Yankee. Enjoy!

 

10) Shelley Duncan can make Joe Buck sound interesting.

 

I’m not sure if this is possible. As cool as Duncan is (or at least whoever made this fact thinks he is) Buck can never sound interesting. He will always be a biased, terrible, boring announcer.

 

Are there any people in the world who actually like Buck and Tim McCarver?

 

9) Derek Jeter gets all the girls, because he tells them he knows Shelley Duncan.

 

OK, I don’t know who is right or wrong here. What I do know that Jeter is a legend when it comes to the ladies. He has been linked to more girls than any other baseball player probably in history.

 

Jessica Biel, Vanessa Minnillo, Jessica Alba, Vida Guerra, and…whether he marries Minka Kelly or not remains to be seen.

 

I have to give the “Yankee Clipper” Joe DiMaggio credit for being married to Marilyn Monroe–that’s impressive, and he was probably the envy of every man in America.

 

But Jeter does work when it comes to the ladies. The Yankee Captain is a player, plain and simple. And apparently so is Duncan, according to this fact.

 

8) Shelley Duncan is the reason Lance Bass went gay

 

Well…I don’t know about that, but…

 

In the wise words of Jerry Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

 

7) Ever wondered why Hawaii is so far out in the Pacific? It used to be a small pineapple-producing island 20 miles off the coast of San Diego. During one visit, Shelley Duncan ate a bad pineapple…The rest, my friends, is history.

 

You know, I always wondered why Hawaii was out there. I learned something.

 

6) Shelley Duncan lost his virginity before his mom and dad.

 

.:BLANK, PUZZLED STARE:.

 

 


 

 

5) Bill Buckner missed the ball because he saw Shelley Duncan in the crowd.

 


Haha! 

 

A-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaaaaaaa!!!!!!

 

4) Shelley Duncan can fix the Knicks.

 

Maybe he can. But if he can’t, LeBron James might be able to…Chris Bosh, too.

 

3) Shelley Duncan…that’s what she said!

 

Exactly.

 

2) Sonic the Hedgehog , The Flash, and Superman once challenged Shelley Duncan to a race. When Sonic, Flash and Superman tried to cheat, realizing Shelley was much more skilled and faster than them, Shelley high-fived them all, killing them instantly. Nobody -including Johnny Damon, Jose Reyes, Ichiro, or Shane Victorino – has since dared to challenge Shelley Duncan to a race.

 

I’m a little biased towards this one, because I submitted it. I know, it’s lame. It’s dumb. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But that’s what makes it funny.

 

Just go with it…

 

1) Shelley Duncan can drown a fish.

 

Believe it or not, there’s a little bit of a back-story to this one.

 

Last year, I really liked this girl. I was trying to come up with silly ways to impress her, and I went to the Shelley Duncan site for help. I figured if I can do amazing things, she would like me more.

 

I came across this fact and proceeded to tell the girl that I can drown a fish. Go ahead and laugh at me; make fun of me all you want. But guess what? IT WORKED!

 

In fact, she took it a step further and told me she could drown two fish!

 

Drowning fish...? 

 

I told her I wanted proof of her ability to drown two fish. Believe it or not, she actually sent me pictures of her pretending to drown two fish! It’s…kind of hard to explain, but it was really funny! She did an excellent job with it! I gave her “cool points” for her remarkable effort.

 

We eventually got together for a little while, and maybe I should thank Shelley Duncan for that. His ridiculous fact got me a girl, or at least it helped me get a girl. I think she liked me for more than just saying I can drown a fish.

 

Click here for the definitive list of Shelley Duncan facts. I swear it can keep you entertained for awhile. And it definitely helped me take my mind off the Yankee loss yesterday.

 

Awful. Just awful.  

 

But today’s a new day! Let’s get ‘em, Yanks!

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium: A Wonderful Experience

 


Opening Day!!!  

 

Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity. Yankee legend Lou Gehrig once claimed to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Yesterday afternoon, I felt I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

 

I was fortunate enough to spend the day with my friends and family at Yankee Stadium for the Bronx Bombers’ home opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not only was it their home opener, it was their ring ceremony, held to commemorate their 2009 World Series Championship.

 

After a beautiful ceremony, the Yankees beat the Angels, 7-5.

 

But the day wasn’t just about RBIs, base hits, and runs scored. It wasn’t just about the Yankees receiving their championship rings. It went far beyond anything that anyone can really understand. Overall, it was a wonderful experience; one I will never forget.

 

A Meaningful Day

 

My cousin Thomas, who invited me and my other cousin Krystina to the game, could not have been more excited for Opening Day. He got the tickets and graciously invited us to this historic game. His father (my Uncle John) recently passed away. I know that Thomas would have loved nothing more than to share the day with his dad.

 

Since his dad could not be there, I find it so honorable that he wanted me there to share the day with him. I could not have felt better. The fact that he asked me to go with him nearly drove me to tears.

 

And it didn’t get any easier when we reached the ballpark.

 

The old ballpark is almost gone! 


  

Getting off the train, we noticed the old Yankee Stadium. The building is nearly torn down completely. It was an unbelievable sight to behold. I can remember so many great and meaningful memories for me in that Stadium, and my only thought was, “is it really right for them to just gut it and rip it down?”

 

I guess they had to do it, but it didn’t make me feel very good. I could tell Thomas was taken back by the whole thing; he was as overwhelmed as I was. The same building where Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and countless other Yankee legends made history is now in shambles; it’s merely a skeleton of what used to be a beautiful ballpark.

 

Heartbreaking, to say the least.

 

When we got inside the new Stadium, it was madness. Everywhere you looked the words, “2009 World Series Champions” were visible. The Great Hall was buzzing with Yankee fans, all ready to watch the team accept their 27th World Title.

 

2009 World Series Champs! 


  

Thomas, Krystina, and I went down to the field level. There we met up with Thomas’s sister (another one of my cousins) Ashley, who went to the game with her friend Matthew. We took a picture together–in my mind, the best picture I took all day. I took a ridiculous amount of photos of the players, the ceremony, and the game.

 

I love my family :) 


  

But I would say the group shot we took together was the best. I would not be anywhere without my family and they mean so much to me. I was honored that they invited me to the game, and for that I cannot thank them enough.

 

Ashley and Matt went to their seats while Thomas, Krystina, and I stayed on the field level to watch the Angels take batting practice, as the Yanks took BP before the gates opened to the public. We were literally pressed directly up against the wall in right field. We had a perfect view of everything!

 

Thomas kept yelling for a ball. He wanted one more than anything. Former Yankee Bobby Abreu was practically right in front of us. He lobbed a couple loose baseballs into the stands, but not any that came near us. Two security guards however were standing near us and Thomas chatted with them, trying to coerce them into getting him a ball.

 

Whoever was in the Angels’ batting cage smoked one down the right field line. The ball ricocheted off the side of the wall and onto the grass.

 

“Can you get that for me?” Thomas politely asked.

 

“We are not allowed to go on the grass,” one of the security guards answered.

 

Not long after that, another ball was ripped down the right field line in foul territory, landing safely on the dirt. It was right in front of the guards.

 

“Please!” Thomas persisted. “Please get that for me!”

 

The guard smiled, bent over, picked up the ball, and placed it softly in Thomas’s glove.

 

 
Tommy caught a foul ball during BP! 

 

I have never in my life seen a child happier. Thomas, with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, had gotten a foul ball in batting practice, a feat I never accomplished at a Major League game. He was ecstatic and I was overjoyed that he was able to get it.

 

I’m sure it will be something he’ll remember forever.

 

What I thought was significant about the day was the team the Yankees were playing. They played the Angels. And I have no doubt in my mind that Thomas’s dad, my Uncle John, was one of the Angels at the Stadium yesterday–but he was an Angel for the Yankees. It truly felt as though he was right there with us.

 

Ring Ceremony

 


Ring Ceremony! 


  

After batting practice wrapped, the ring ceremony festivities were set to begin. I watched from behind centerfield and everything looked wonderful. Michael Kay and John Sterling emceed the ceremony and the World Series trophy was even on display.

 

First the team paid homage to owner George Steinbrenner, who was in attendance for the days’ events. I have never heard a louder ovation for a non-player in my life. The crowd roared for him and rightfully so. Without Mr. Steinbrenner, there would be no Yankee team.

 

Then Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra came out to help hand out the rings. Manager Joe Girardi also helped distribute the rings and he congratulated each player as they accepted their prize. One by one, every Yankee from last year’s team was called out to get their ring.

 

Really the only players who were missing were Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Jerry Hairston, Jr. (although no longer with the team) was in the ballpark to get his ring. As was Hideki Matsui, the MVP of the ’09 World Series who is now a member of the Angels.

 

They saved Matsui’s introduction for last, and he received a humungous, deafening ovation. I think every Yankee fan recognized Matsui’s hard work and dedication over the seven years he played in the Bronx. I know he will always be a Yankee in my heart.

 

group hug! 


  

When the ceremony was ready to conclude, the whole team ran in and showed Matsui a lot of love; the team got together one last time and embraced for a group hug. The hug almost brought a tear to my eye, because I know how close the 2009 team was.

 

I didn’t realize until I got home how they had tricked Matsui. Girardi handed him a bootleg ring and later during the Opening Day ceremony ran the real ring over to him. Matsui laughed and I could see his Angel teammates also teasing him for it.

 

A little playful humor now and then is relished by the best teams, I guess.

 

And speaking about the Opening Day ceremony: once again, overwhelming. They called the Angels out of their dugout and they all lined up along the third baseline. The Yankees lined up on the first baseline, and cadets from West Point stood in center field to unfurl the American flag. Not long after the anthem ended, two enormous jets flew over Yankee Stadium.

 

USA! 


  

Those fighter jets were LOUD! When I tell you they were loud, they were LOUD! The ground literally shook as they flew over the new house. And once again, it was quite a sight to behold. My only word for it: “Amazing.”

 

 


LOUD!!!!!!! 

After the anthem and beautiful aerial presentation, Bernie Williams, the great former center fielder, tossed out the honorable first pitch. Talk about an ovation! Williams received a rousing hand from us Yankee faithful, but it somewhat shocked us how he bounced the pitch. Being a former All-Star center fielder, you would think Williams would hit home plate! He missed, much to the surprise of the crowd. The gentleman standing next to me yelled, “Oh, come on Bernie! You gotta hit the glove!”

 

It’s Ok, Bernie. I still love you.

 

After the Yankees were finished warming up and all pre-game ceremonies were over, it was time to, as they say, play ball! Yankees vs. Angels.

 

The Game

 


NJ homered for the Yankees' first run 


  

The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Nick Johnson blasted a solo home run to right field, a shot that (as I understand) landed right next to Bald Vinny–the legendary Bleacher Creature who starts the famous Yankee “roll call” at the beginning of each home game.

 

Unfortunately I was on line for food when this happened, but I heard the crowd roar and got into a spot just in time to see Johnson cross home plate. In any event it was the first of many home runs the Yankees will hit in their house in 2010.

 

As Andy Pettitte worked brilliantly through the first three innings, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the frame. The Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, stepped up to the plate and crushed a solo home to right field, his first of the year.

 

It really is amazing how many games I have been to that have featured a home run by Jeter. It seems every game I get out to, he hits a home run. I can think of at least five games off the top of my head in which Jeter has homered. Maybe I bring some kind of luck to him, who knows.

 

 
touch 'em all, Jeter! 

 

In any event, 2-0 Yankees at the end of three innings of play.

 

One of the more special moments during the day was Matsui’s first at-bat. The former beloved Yankee received yet another rousing ovation from the fans while he stepped into the batter’s box. Pettitte respectfully tipped his cap and stepped off the mound and allowed his former teammate to soak up the moment.

 

Matsui removed his helmet and acknowledged the fans who once called him a hero. Unfortunately for the 2009 World Series MVP, the Yankees were not very kind to him in terms of his day at the plate. He was 0-for-5 on the day with a strikeout.

 


 
Hideki Matsui was 0-for-5   

 

The Yankees tacked on three more runs before the end of the sixth inning. Jeter was at it again in the fourth, reaching on an infield single that scored Curtis Granderson. In the sixth, Alex Rodriguez reached on yet another infield single, which brought home Johnson and Nick Swisher.

 

5-0, all Yankees at the end of six innings. It was looking good for us.

 

That is, until Kendry Morales stepped up in the top of the eighth. The Angels’ first baseman smashed a long, solo home run into the second deck in right field, putting the Angels on the board, 5-1.  

 

The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth, both of them proving to be the difference in the game. Jorge Posada doubled to score Johnson and Granderson singled to score Robinson Cano, giving the Yankees a 7-1 edge.

 

Posada’s double put him ahead of Mantle on the all-time Yankee doubles list.

 

You would think with a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth inning everything would be safe and secure. Well, think again. Feeling that the game was practically over, my cousins and I watched the end of the game from the concourse on the first base side.

 

And we received a pleasant surprise followed by a not-so-pleasant surprise, followed by a happy ending.

 

The End

 


closer view after the seat upgrade!!! 


  

Right before the ninth inning began, two gentleman sitting in the field box seats decided to leave. One of them tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his tickets.

 

“Here you go,” he said. “You guys can watch the end from the field level seats.”

 

“WOW!” I exclaimed. “Thank you very much!”

 

“Don’t mention it,” he replied.

 

How awesome is that?! You never really see that type of chivalry anymore. A man, not knowing who I was, just gave up his seats to me, a stranger. Granted, the game was almost over, it was still a very noble gesture and overall a kind act.

 

Who says New Yorkers are mean-spirited?

 

In any event my cousins and I, now sitting in comfortable, padded box seats, watched David Robertson surrender hit after walk after hit, eventually loading the bases. I still thought the Yankees were in great shape, even if they only gave up a run or two.

 

To our dismay, former Yankee Abreu stepped up and slaughtered a grand slam home run to left field, something he specialized in when he played for the Yankees. I will always like Abreu; in my mind he was the best Yankee right fielder since Paul O’Neill. But yesterday…I did not like him. He burned us pretty bad.

 

 
Bobby Abreu hit a grand slam! 

 

I mean, Abreu’s home run was a real shot. I’m talking way back into the left field seats.

 

Now with the score at 7-5 and a save situation in place, Girardi was prompted to bring in Mariano Rivera. The great Rivera struck Torii Hunter out swinging and then got his former teammate Matsui to pop out to end the game.

 

Enter Sandman. 


  

Ballgame over. Yankees win. THEEEEE Yankees win!

 

We stayed and watched the Yankees take congratulations and improve their record to 5-2.

 


 
taking congrats.    

 

We exited the ballpark and once again looked at the demolished old stadium. Thomas looked at it once more, and looking at it again, I could not help but think of all the games his father took us to. I think a part of us went down with that stadium.

 

But then we glanced back at the new stadium and thought about the days’ events. The Yankees had just won and we had just witnessed history; the first ring ceremony in the new Stadium, a batting practice foul ball, a great game, a seat upgrade from a gracious fan and a Yankee win.

 

And not only that, a day spent with my friends and family.

 

I could not have asked for anything better. It was just a day where nothing went wrong. I can truly say that I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth yesterday.

 

And Uncle John: I know you were there with us. We miss you.

 

Keep smiling down on us and the Yankees.

 


 
Yankees win!!  

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

With one week and one day left of spring training baseball, the Yankees are starting to get into regular season form. Saturday afternoon the Bronx Bombers beat the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland by a score of 2-1.

 

Here’s what I made of it…

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 


Dr. Jekyll-Burnett came to play today 

Coming into this game A.J. Burnett was 0-1 this spring, not exactly setting the Yankees on fire. I recently wrote a blog about Burnett, calling out his inconsistency and how everyone compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season.

 

Today, he was “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”

 

The Yanks’ number two man tossed 91 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He only gave up three hits, struck out two, and issued three walks. Not a bad day at the office for Burnett and it was a good sign, considering the Tigers played most of their regulars.

 

Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from Burnett today too; the skipper said he was “mixing his pitches, using the fastball more effectively, and was demonstrating better control than his last few starts.”

 

Could not have said it better myself. Burnett was also in a good rhythm with Jorge Posada, who was catching him this afternoon. Many people have made issues about the Burnett-Posada battery in the past, but if they work together as nicely as they did today there won’t be many problems.

 

Overall, Burnett looked great. A smooth and effortless delivery, a good fastball, a great breaking pitch, and everything was working for him. Let’s just hope he pitches like this for the better part of the upcoming season.

 

Burnett will have one more start this spring before April 6–his first regular season start in Boston vs. the Red Sox.

 

Former Teams

 

 


Each player who lent a hand in scoring today played for the other team last year 

What was interesting about this game was the scoring. The Yankees scored two runs, both of which were brought on by former Tigers. The Tigers plated one run, which was scored by a former Yankee.

 

In the top of the first, Curtis Granderson knocked in Posada with a two-out RBI single. Of course Granderson played for the Tigers last season, as did Marcus Thames.

 

With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Thames took Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson deep to left for a long solo home run, a blast that gave the Yankees the lead they would not relinquish.

 

I think Thames needed that home run, considering the abysmal spring he is having. Heading into that at-bat, he was only averaging .114 at the plate. Yikes!

 

As for the Tigers, former Yank Johnny Damon scored in the bottom of the third on an RBI single off the bat of Magglio Ordonez. After Damon hit a two-out double Ordonez drove him in from second with a base hit to right field. I have to give credit to Randy Winn, who nearly made a spectacular outfield assist.

 

Damon just beat the throw to home plate, which was right on the money. A solid effort and a great throw by Winn, but the former Yankee was called safe at home.

 

It was just a strange day in terms of the scoring. Not many runs and a former player on each team lent a hand in each run. Crazy!

 

Joba Chamberlain

 


Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the 'pen 

 

As announced on Thursday, Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the bullpen. Phil Hughes won the fifth starting pitcher’s spot, much to the dismay of many people including Chamberlain.

 

A good friend of mine called me almost immediately after the Yankees made the decision. I answered my phone and he literally went off about how angry he was how Hughes was named the fifth starter over Chamberlain. His argument was that the Yanks wasted time with the “Joba Rules” and how they treated him last year.

 

Think about it: they put Chamberlain on six days rest and then had him go out and throw 4 1/3 innings in some instances. They put him through all of that just to make him a reliever again? My friend said,

 

“He may not have been Roy Halladay right off the bat, but Rome was not built in a day.”

 

Excellent point. Chamberlain is only 24 years old. If he was 34 years old and not performing at a high level as a starter, then I would say leave him in the bullpen.

 

I think many people forget what he did in July 25, 2008 against the Red Sox at Fenway. Chamberlain started the game and tossed seven shutout innings against the BoSox, beating the ace of the Red Sox staff, Josh Beckett. Not only did he pick up the win in that game, he only allowed three hits and fanned nine batters.

 

The capability and talent is there. He just needs a chance to put it to use.

 

Chamberlain said Hughes did a better job during spring training and earned the spot, but he also said he was disappointed. He has a right to feel that way. Everyone was expecting him to be the fifth guy and I can tell he wanted to be. But I think one thing has to be made clear:

 

Even though Hughes is starting the year in the rotation, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain won’t be there. If Hughes struggles (the way he has in the past as a starter) Chamberlain could very well be plugged into that spot and get some starts. Nothing is set in stone; it just means Hughes is starting the year in the rotation!

 

Maybe everything will work out fine. Perhaps Hughes will find his niche in the rotation while Chamberlain finds his in the ‘pen. Just as he has proven to be a dominant starter, Chamberlain can be just as deadly as a reliever.

 

After all, he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning today and pick up a save.

 

Other Notes:

 

 


Spring Training 

–The Tigers’ spring training field is named “Joker Marchant Stadium.” Detroit officially wins the award for silliest Stadium name. Ever.

 

–David Robertson took over for Burnett and got out of the sixth inning. The more I watch him, the more I like him. He is great!

 

–Chad Gaudin was released by the Yankees. He made seven starts for the Bronx Bombers last year and the Yanks were 7-0 in those games. I hope he finds a new team, he can really help a ball club the way he helped the Yankees.  

 

–Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano did not make the trip over to Lakeland today.

 

–Nick Johnson played first base this afternoon. I think it’s good he can play the field, but unfortunately he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate. He did draw a walk though.

 

–As mentioned before, Randy Winn almost made a great outfield assist. Even though he missed it, he still did a great job in right field. He made some nice catches and even doubled up a runner at first after an awesome snag. I’ll give him a lot of credit–he won some battles with the sun and wind today!

 

–The Tigers have a minor leaguer named Michael Rockett. Deik Scram, Michael Rockett…Jeesh, the Tigers are chuck full of minor leaguers with funny names!

 

–Chan Ho Park’s nickname is “Chop.” Cool. Even cooler, he worked his way out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the eighth inning.

 

–Joel Zumaya of the Tigers struck out the side in the sixth inning. He whiffed Granderson, Winn, and Ramiro Pena. I am officially scared of him again. He has been practically a non-factor these past two seasons, but his fastball hit 99 mph on the speed gun and his curve ball was NASTY. I am not looking forward to facing him this year.

 

–During the telecast, Michael Kay and Tino Martinez had a discussion about the pies to the face after a walk-off win. Kay said the dynasty teams were “very conservative” and that Paul O’Neill (at first) did not like the pies after the walk-off wins.

 

Martinez however liked them and said the team did not look like they were having fun the last five-six years. “The pies loosened them up,” Martinez elegantly stated.

I have to side with favorite player during the dynasty (Martinez) and say he was right.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees take on the Tigers yet again, only this time they will play in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.   

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

In the first game of a split-squad doubleheader, the New York Yankees topped the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Friday afternoon. 

 

Overall it was a good win. The team looked about as solid as they can be, coming off the 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last night. The Bombers will play the Rays again tonight in game two of their twin bill.

 

A few players and plays stood out this afternoon. All I can say is the Yankees are looking better and better as Spring Training continues!

 

CC Sabathia

 

 


CC Sabathia fanned 8 Tigers this afternoon 

The Yankee ace wasn’t having a great spring coming into today’s start. In fact, his numbers were brutal. 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA was the line on Sabathia up until today, indicating a little rust, I suppose. He pitched so much last season and into the playoffs, so he needed that rest in the off-season. But as the old saying goes, “when you rest, you rust.”

 

Yet Sabathia looked anything but rusty today.

 

The big man tossed 5 1/3 innings, surrendered four hits, and was charged with two runs this afternoon. He walked only two and struck out eight Tigers, making some of Detroit’s best hitters look as silly as the Joker at a comedy show.

 

The breaking ball, the fastball, and the changeup were working perfectly for Sabathia today. I will admit I had some doubts in the first inning. He quickly gave up a run and I thought “here we go again.” But he settled in nicely and found a good rhythm with catcher Francisco Cervelli. They looked to be on the same page all afternoon.

 

After today, I feel a lot better about Sabathia. Not that I ever really felt bad about him, despite the shaky spring. He always finds a way to win and always comes up big when the Yankees need him to.

 

I said it once and I’ll say it again: I believe in CC Sabathia.

 

Alex Rodriguez

 

 


Alex Rodriguez hit a TITANIC homer today!!! 

In the bottom of the third inning, Alex Rodriguez stepped into the box against Rick Porcello. The three-time MVP smacked a long, and I mean LONG, solo home run over the left-centerfield fence. As a matter of fact, the ball cleared the scoreboard and landed well beyond George M. Steinbrenner Field.

 

“That…was a BOMB!” It was all I could say.

 

Rodriguez went 2-for-3 today and he looks to be in top shape for this season. Last year he did not return to the lineup until May 8 because of the hip injury. The Yankees (and more notably Mark Teixeira) struggled in his absence.

 

2010 might be a different story, though. There are no injuries and he will be starting the season in regular form. I have a feeling he’ll have a typical “A-Rod season.” Look for about 35-40 home runs, over 100 RBIs, a batting average around .300, and probably 100 runs scored.

 

That is, unless, he stupefies us all like he did in 2007. That’s always appreciated, as well!

 

All I can say is “wow” to that homer he hit today. He absolutely crushed the ball and got very good wood on it. I shouldn’t even say “crushed.” Obliterated is probably the operative word. He said after the game he “lost track of it, but knew he hit it a long ways.”

 

That you did, A-Rod. That you did.

 

Derek Jeter

 

 


Derek Jeter was 1-for-3 with two RBIs vs. Detroit 

Last night vs. Tampa Bay, the Yankee captain looked to have tweaked his hand a little bit. He was grimacing as he was taking warm-ups, but stayed in the game. He also said nothing was bothering him (as usual) and he started today.

 

Not only did he start today, but he had a good game.

 

Jeter went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. The captain knocked in both runs on a single in the bottom of the second, which put the Yankees ahead, 3-1. His hitting is exactly what we all expect at this point. Jeter’s been through Spring Training so many times, I’m sure he is used to it by now.

 

Along with his hitting, his defense looks great, too. Whoever said his range has gone down really needs to get their eyes checked. This spring, Jeter has been moving around just as well as he has his whole career.

 

It’s just good to know he did not hurt his hand last night and he had a good day today.

 

Mariano Rivera

 

 


Mariano Rivera gave up no runs & threw just 10 pitches Friday 

The Yankees’ closer needed just 10 pitches to retire the Tigers in the seventh inning today. Mariano Rivera’s line for the day: no runs, no hits, no errors, no men left on base…one strikeout.

 

It never gets old seeing that.

 

Like the rest of the veterans, Rivera also looks to be in top form. He always is, it’s nothing new for him. I noticed that his velocity was down in the low-mid 80s at first, but he eventually made it up to the 90s toward the end of the inning.

 

I think velocity is not something that really matters when it comes to Rivera’s pitching. So many hitters have already said, “We all know the cutter is coming–yet no one can ever hit it.” My favorite quote was by Mike Sweeney, who once said,

 

“People always ask why you can’t hit Mo’s cutter when you know it’s coming. Well, you know what’s going to happen in a horror movie, but it still gets you.”

 

Best quote about the cutter. Ever.

 

I think people also need to realize, it’s not an easy pitch to hit. The cutter runs inside on left-handed hitters and tails away from righties. One player once remarked, “At first you think the ball is outside, and then it comes right in toward your hands.” Honestly, it’s probably the nastiest pitch there is.

 

Last year Rivera had 44 saves in 46 save opportunities with a 1.76 ERA. With the way he’s been pitching for the last 15 years or so, he might duplicate that in 2010. Knowing him, I would not doubt it. He said he will have about five more outings this spring and he is set to pitch again on Sunday.

 

 

Other Notes

 

 


Spring Training 

–Nick Johnson worked an 11 pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, ending in a walk. I expect more of this from him this year. It’s good to have a patient hitter in the lineup.

 

–Royce Ring pitched yet another scoreless inning. I think a roster spot could be in his future. I like him!

 

–In the 6-4 win over Tampa last night, Chan Ho Park tossed his first inning this spring. No runs, no hits, no walks, and a strikeout, along with making a nice bare-handed play for an out. Good stuff, let’s see if he can keep it up!

 

–In addition to Park’s good outing, Colin Curtis hit another three-run home run in last night’s win. I like this kid. I know he won’t make the team coming right out of the gate, but Curtis may make a case for a call-up this year, even if it’s at the end in September. He has a great left-handed swing, tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. I hope we see more of him, he’s got some pop!

 

–Joe Girardi stated that he hopes to have a decision on the fifth starting pitcher by March 25 or 26. If you ask me…anyone but Joba Chamberlain at this point. I have no clue who I would choose for that spot at the moment.

 

–Johnny Damon did not make the trip to GMS Field today. We didn’t see our old friend.

 

–We did however see Austin Jackson (we barely knew ye) and Phil Coke today. I have to ask…WHAT did Phil Coke do to himself? He looks like a hippie straight out of the 1970s! He has long hair and a mustache and looks…not right. Cut your hair and shave, Cokey!

 

–Coke did however have a good outing, as he struck Alex Rodriguez out swinging and then proceeded to retire Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames in order.  

 

–The Tigers played one of their AA minor leaguers by the name of Deik Scram. He is a centerfielder. Nice name! Kind of reminds me of Stubby Clapp.

 

–Tomorrow the Yankees will play the Houston Astros, Sunday the Tigers again, and then Monday they travel to Clearwater to play Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Final Thought:

 

Francisco Cervelli played today. As we all know, he has suffered three concussions and needs to wear a somewhat large, protective helmet. The YES Network made a reference to Gazoo, an imaginary cartoon character who always talked to Fred Flintstone.

 

I have to admit, Cervelli’s helmet does resemble Gazoo’s…


Hello dum-dum!!

Johnny Be Gone

 

 

Damon would have had to get on his knees and beg to come back to the Yankees

I had heard awhile back (through the hot stove grape vine) that the only way Johnny Damon would be able to return to the Yankees would be if he crawled back on his hands and knees and begged. Obviously he did not proceed to do that and now he is officially gone and not coming back.

 

Yesterday Damon and the Detroit Tigers cut a one year, $8 million deal.

 

I have to say, this was not completely his fault. For the most part, I blame this move on his agent Scott Boras. According to reports, the Yankees had attempted to negotiate with the left fielder several times with talks eventually stalling out before a deal was reached.

 

 


Scott Boras ruined Damon's chances of returning to the Yanks 

Boras has been known to do these types of things to players in the past. If you remember back to the end of the 2007 season, Alex Rodriguez had an opt-out clause in his contract. Rodriguez, also represented by Boras, chose to opt-out of his contract at the most inopportune time imaginable: in the middle of the World Series.

 

The Yankees had tried to negotiate with Rodriguez prior to the end of 2007 season, but no deal was made. Rodriguez told the Yanks that he was not interested in working out a new deal in the middle of the season. The Yankees responded by basically telling Rodriguez, “if you opt-out now, we are not chasing after you.”

 

Unlike Damon, Rodriguez became a free agent and reached out to the Yankees. The team and Rodriguez had a meeting and eventually worked out a new deal. Along with the new contract, Rodriguez distanced himself from Boras because of the ugly press he received for the opt-out move.

 

Good move, A-Rod. Unfortunately Damon was not as smart. He received ugly press and he allowed Boras to make a deal for him/control his destiny.

 

I’ll admit, I liked Damon and I will miss him. He was a hard worker, played the game the right way, and really did not make any excuses. The whole time he was in New York, I don’t think I ever heard him make an excuse for a bad game or a failure.

 

On top of that, he enjoyed many moments of success as a Yankee. Here are five:

 

5) June 7, 2008– A six hit day

 

 


On June 7, 2007, Johnny had six hits vs. Kansas City 

The Yankees played the Royals on a hot Saturday afternoon–should have been an easy win by any Yankee fan’s standards. But it looked like a lost cause at the end of the third inning when Kansas City was winning 5-1.

 

Never underestimate your opponent, but also never underestimate the Yankee left fielder.

 

Damon put together a career day at the plate, going 6-for-6 with four RBIs and a run scored as the Yankees battled back. He even drove in the winning run on a walk-off ground rule double in the bottom of the ninth.

 

The Yankees won the slugfest, 12-11.

 

The ground-rule double was Damon’s first walk-off hit as a member of the Yankees, and he became the first Yankee since Myril Hoag to have six hits in a game. (Hoag accomplished the feat in 1934).

 

I would say Damon showed how valuable he can be on that day.

 

4) Boston Massacre, 2006

 

 


Epic. 

It was a really fun weekend to be a Yankee fan.

 

Heading into a five-game weekend series in Boston on Aug. 18, the American League title was basically up for grabs. We knew that whichever team won this series was the favorite to win the East.

 

Damon had been blasted when he returned to Boston earlier that season on May 1. Red Sox fans even held up a sign in center field that read “JUDAS DAMON” (the ‘N’ in his last name of course being the interlocking ‘NY’)

 

But never one to let things bother him, Damon kept his focus on the game. In the first three games of the five game series, he hit two homers, scored eight runs, and drove in eight runs.

 

Talk about letting your former team know what they are missing. And if you are wondering, the Yankees swept the Red Sox that weekend and went on to win the AL East. The Red Sox did not make the playoffs in ’06.

 

They had the Yankees to thank for that.

 

3) Walk-off Against Minnesota

 

 


Damon had the game-winning homer on May 17 this year 

Many people say the series the Yankees played against the Twins in May of last year was the turning point of their Championship season.

 

Melky Cabrera hit a walk-off single on May 15, Alex Rodriguez smacked a walk-off homer on May 16, and on May 17 it was Damon’s turn to ignite the team.

 

With two hits already under his belt on the day and the game knotted at two in the bottom of the tenth, Damon crushed a long, solo home run into the right field seats to win the game for the Yankees.

 

Damon’s walk-off blast marked the first time since 1972 the Yankees won three games in a row in their final at-bat. After the win, Damon proudly proclaimed faith in the team and the Yankees’ ability to win tough games.

 

He also received a pie in the face from A.J. Burnett, a tradition that occurred after every walk-off Yankee win in 2009.

 

 


pwned 

 

 

2) Oct. 7, 2007–Game 3 of the ALDS

 


Johnny kept the Yanks alive with a homer in the '07 ALDS  

 

Down two games to none and facing elimination in Game Three, “The Boss” George Steinbrenner had issued an edict to then-manager Joe Torre: “Beat Cleveland or you are gone.”

 

Roger Clemens started the game and quickly let the Yankees fall into a hole. Clemens was forced to an early exit because of a strained hamstring and rookie Phil Hughes took over on the mound. The youngster was able to toss 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, but the Yankees were still down 3-1 by the fifth inning.

 

Damon then came up to bat with two runners on base and took Indians’ starter Jake Westbrook deep to put the Yankees up 4-3. I had never breathed such a sigh of relief in my life. Damon had practically single-handedly saved Torre’s life as Yankee manager with one swing of the bat.

 

The Yanks were able to tack on four more runs and win the game by a count of 8-4. Unfortunately the next night in Game Four they were not as lucky and lost 6-4 in Torre’s last game as Yankee skipper.

 

Yet I cannot forget Damon’s effort in Game Three. He once again showed credibility in the playoffs and came through in the clutch. We Yankees fans had seen how capable he was in the 2004 playoffs and I for one was happy to see it translate in ’07.

 

In humility, Damon had five words to say after the game:

 

“We won it for Joe.”

 

1) Man of Steal: Game Four, 2009 World Series

 

 


Johnny stole two bases on one play in game four of the '09 fall classic 

It was the most epic base-running play I have ever seen in a World Series game.

 

After giving a warrior-like effort at the plate (a nine-pitch at-bat) and tapping a two-out single off the end of his bat into left field, Damon stood on first base in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game. The Philadelphia Phillies’ infield was playing the over-shift with Mark Teixeira batting from the left side of the plate.

 

With third baseman Pedro Feliz playing where the shortstop normally would, no one was covering third base. Damon took off like a shot and hustled to second base, the throw down to second being late. In a heads-up move, Damon right away noticed no one covering the bag and bolted to third, basically uncontested, and made it there safely.

 

You cannot coach that. It was just self-awareness. Damon was awarded with two steals.

 

Teixeira got hit with a pitch, setting up Alex Rodriguez who knocked in the go-ahead run with a double to left field. The Yankees tacked on two more runs after Rodriguez’s double and went on to win 7-4.    

 

Damon kept the team alive with his valiant effort with two outs in the inning and his great instinct on the base path. I have never seen a player keep his wits about him in such a pressure-laden situation. He maintained his bearings and made a terrific play.

 

I still feel if Damon had made an out, the Yanks would have lost Game Four.

 

But that didn’t happen thanks to his intelligence and heads-up steals. Ricky Henderson, eat your heart out!

 

On behalf of Yankee fans everywhere, THANK YOU Johnny Damon!

 

You afforded us some wonderful memories and like Hideki Matsui, we will truly miss you. It’s unfortunate how your tenure in New York ended, but at least you helped bring the city another title.

 

Have fun in Detroit with Austin Jackson.

 

P.S. We are sorry Scott Boras ruined it for you. Be smart and dump him. Please.

 


BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!   

Five Players to Watch This Spring

What’s up Yankee fans?

 

The date is February 15, 2010.

 

 


It's been a busy winter in the sports world 

As for news around the sports world, the NFL Super Bowl is over. The great Peyton Manning fell to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in what was (in my opinion) the best Super Bowl game since the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

 

The winter Olympics are in full swing in Vancouver and at press time the U.S.A. has claimed six medals.

 

The NBA is at their All-Star point and Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks became the only player in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest three times.

 

And last but never-the-least, MLB pitchers and catchers report to camp this week. We now know that baseball is almost back. Almost back, but we’re not quite there yet.

 

The Yankees obviously made a number of moves in the off season, bidding farewell to players like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, and Chien-Ming Wang.

 

But they welcomed in new (and old) players like Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson.

 

Some of these moves haven’t been very popular among Yankee fans, but it remains to be seen how these players will perform. The best time to find out how well each player might do in the season is obviously in spring training.

 

With that being said, here are my five players to keep an eye on in March:

 

5) Javier Vazquez

 

 


Javier Vazquez is ready for his second stint in pinstripes 

At first, I was completely against the Javier Vazquez deal and part of me still is. I never liked him during his first stint with the Yankees in 2004. The only lasting image I have of him was that meatball he served up that Johnny Damon clobbered for a grand slam in the 2004 ALCS–a bomb that solidified the Yankees’ Game Seven collapse.

 

 


Vazquez picthed in the Yankees' losing effort in the 2004 ALCS 

But I suppose I’ll give him a second chance as the number four starter in 2010.

 

Everyone keeps talking about how Vazquez had a very low ERA these past few seasons, so who knows. He may surprise us. After all, I thought Hideki Matsui was going to have a horrible season in 2009. He went on to win the World Series MVP.

 

I have decided to give Vazquez until July 15–if he has decent numbers then, I’ll approve of the trade. But if he is basically hanging on by a thread with an inflated ERA and a record of .500, then I’ll stand by my initial thought: what are the Yankees thinking?!

 

I realize the Vazquez trade was a panic move to counter the Red Sox signing John Lackey. But the Yanks could have figured out another way to get a pitcher without having to give up a promising outfielder (Cabrera) for a one-year rental (Vazquez).

 

We’ll see how he does. But without question, he’ll be under the microscope in Tampa.

 

4) Jesus Montero

 

 


Jesus Montero is a top-ranked prospect we'll see this spring 

I have heard a lot of great things about this kid. I get the feeling he’ll one day be a star, but he’s just too young right now. Nonetheless, non-roster invitee Jesus Montero will be a player to watch this spring.

 

At 20 years old, Montero has been named the Yanks’ best prospect and the fifth best player by Baseball America. In his 2008 minor league season with the Charleston River Dogs, Montero batted .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs. He only stole two bases, but hey…he’s a catcher, we cannot expect a ton of steals from him.

 

The highest level he’s played at is AA Trenton Thunder, but mark my words; he’ll probably make it to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010.

 

With Jose Molina leaving the Yankees, it’ll most likely be Francisco Cervelli backing up Jorge Posada. So in all likelihood, we won’t see Montero in the show this year. In 2011, he’ll more than likely be on the Major League squad.

 

But Montero will undoubtedly be on the field this spring. This is his chance to show Yankee Universe what he’s made of and for us to get a feel for what he is about.

 

3) Brett Gardner

 

 


Brett Gardner can run, but must improve on offense 

Brett Gardner has given the Yankees something they haven’t had in recent times–speed. And I’m not talking about just a decent pair of wheels. I’m talking the Flash/Sonic the Hedgehog type horse power here.

 

I mean, if he sprinted on the highway, he’d probably get a speeding ticket.

 

Gardner has also offered a great deal of defense in the outfield. With the departure of Melky Cabrera, the Yankees are obviously putting a lot of stock in him. Gardner can run and he can play some unbelievable defense. But he needs to get on base and become a better offensive player.

 

In 2009, Gardner had 67 hits in 248 at-bats, which translates to a .270 average–not too shabby. He drew 26 walks and stole 26 bases, which again, are decent stats.

 

But centerfield is a position that requires power; you need to have some pop coming from that spot on the field. Gardner only hit three home runs last year, two of which left the park (and yes, it was pretty sweet watching that inside-the-park home run on May 15…it was even sweeter because I saw it in-person!)

 

This spring, the Yankees will be trying out a number of different outfielders. There’s even talk that if Gardner is good enough, recent acquisition Curtis Granderson might play left field and Gardner will man center.

 

Well, that scenario remains to be seen, but in any event, Gardner has to take his game up to the next level. We’ll see how he responds next month.

 

2) Robinson Cano

 

 


Can Robinson Cano hit without Melky Cabrera on the team? 

Boy has this young man come a long way. I can remember the day he was called up to the big leagues in 2005 and how nervous he looked. He would make frequent errors and he looked so uneasy at the plate.

 

But Robinson Cano worked his game up to a Major League level, finishing in the top three in the 2006 batting title race. He was even compared to the incomparable Rod Carew. And from there, the rest is basically history. In my opinion, he’s unlike any other second baseman in the American League–and that’s a good thing.

 

He plays defense so well, gliding across the infield and making spectacular plays. I still believe he should have won a Gold Glove Award this past year. His hitting has certainly improved, as well. In 2009 he set a career-high in home runs with 25 and averaged .320 at the dish.

 

I have to say, of the younger players who are currently on the Yankees, Cano is my favorite. You can mention Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and all the legendary players of the so-called “core four,” but (for me) Cano has been the most exciting Yankee these past couple of seasons.

 

But some philosophize that Cano only performed so well for so long because of the presence of his best friend Melky Cabrera. The two became bosom buddies in 2007 and since then, both have played very well in each other’s friendship.

 

But Cabrera is now an Atlanta Brave and Cano is on his own.

 

I am anxious to see how Cano is going to perform in the absence of his best friend. I still feel he can play the same way he has these last few years. However, the only minor concern I have is how Cano played in 2008 without Cabrera; when his buddy was sent down to the minors because of a nasty slump, Cano struggled a little bit and fell into a funk of his own.

 

Hopefully nothing like that will happen to him this upcoming year. But if Cano gets off to a slow start and cannot find his rhythm, I might have to side with those philosophers.

 

1) Joba Chamberlain

 


Will Joba Chamberlain be the fifth starter?   

 

It’s no secret that Joba Chamberlain had a rough 2009. It started back when he was arrested for a DUI after the 2008 campaign. Then he was put back on the “Joba Rules,” only being allowed to toss a certain amount of innings according to the Yankees’ discretion.

 

He had some forgetful starts and some brilliant starts in ’09, posting a record of 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. If that wasn’t enough, the 24 year-old flamethrower was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs and World Series as the Bronx Bombers chose to go with a three-man rotation. In relief, he posted an ERA of 2.84 and was 1-0 with one save and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched.

 

Not too bad, if you ask me. Chamberlain seems to excel when he knows his role.

 

There’s a lot of speculation on which pitcher will land the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Chamberlain seems to be the logical choice, unless they either opt to pull Phil Hughes from his spot in the bullpen or allow Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin the opportunity.

 

It all depends on who is performing at the highest level in spring training. If we see Chamberlain in a dominant form next month, it could be him. But if he is going to be that fifth pitcher, the Yankees NEED to take him off the “Joba Rules.”

 

Chamberlain will have his growing pains, all young players do. But if they do not take the leash off, the only thing he’ll ever be is a caged animal.

 

I understand that the Yankees are not trying to wreck his arm because it’s happened to too many young pitchers (Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez…etc.) But the Yanks should not tell him exactly how many innings they want him to throw. I think that can upset the balance of his psyche.

 

So who will be that fifth starter? We’ll know when we see what they all bring to Tampa.

Yankee Stadium: A Piece of Cake

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

A Yankee Stadium Cake! 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


A work of art 

Now here’s where I got extremely jealous.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

Zack Greinke Wins the Cy Young

 

Cy Young

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Zack Greinke is the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner. 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

When I saw him, Greinke was not impressive 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Will Greinke be the same in 2010...? 

 

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

 

This year could have just been an isolated incident.

 

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

 

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

 

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

World Series Game 6 and the 27th Title!

 

 

World Series!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Bus 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

But Matsui was just getting warmed up.

 

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

 

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

 

 


Hideki Matsui won 2009 World Series MVP 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Celebrate!!!! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

What a way to end this year!

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


The Yankees have won their 27th title 

World Series Game 5

 

World Series!!!

 

That was almost awesome. Almost.

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

 

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

 

No such luck, whatsoever.

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Mark Teixeira ended game five with a strikeout 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Hey Pedro! 

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

 

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

 

Until then, Go Yankees!!!

 

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

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