Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

End of the Year Awards

Sunday marked the final day of the 2015 regular Major League Baseball season. Which, figuratively speaking, meant all 30 clubs used their might to push the sun back up into the sky and give us one more day of summer.

Even though it was a blustery October day.

The baseball world also learned the layout of this year’s postseason; who’s in the dance and who’s not. After days of waiting, we now know the Yankees will host the Houston Astros at 8:08 p.m. on Tuesday in a do-or-die Wild Card game. The defending American League champions and winners of the American League Central division, the Kansas City Royals, will take on whoever emerges victorious Tuesday night.

The road is going to be anything but easy for the pinstripers, who in terms of the playoffs, aren’t on the outside looking in for the first time since 2012.

But the playoffs start Tuesday. Now is yearly time for regular season reflection. A chance to tout the achievements of the 2015 Yankee team.

Yes, the annual awards.

Yankee Yapping Rookie of the Year

Winner: Greg Bird

Greg Bird flew in on Aug. 13, and could not have landed at a better time. Four days after he was promoted to the big club, first baseman Mark Teixeira fouled a ball off his leg and was injured. Bird was thrust into the role of everyday first baseman, and to say the least, he rose to the occasion and produced.

In his short time with the club (45 games), Bird knocked in 30 runs, slugged .523 and generated an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .862. What’s more, he flexed his muscles with 11 homers. This writer, in fact, saw one of those round-trippers live on Sept. 7, when he crushed a home run in the Yankees’ 8-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

The 22-year-old Bird truly soared like an eagle since his arrival. And if the Yankees want a deep run in the postseason this month, he really must spread his wings.

Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of the Year

Winner: Alex Rodriguez

The type of season Alex Rodriguez put together was nothing short of remarkable. Perhaps the most stunning aspect of his 33-home run, 86-RBI campaign is that no one predicted it.

If you would have asked even the staunchest proponent of A-Rod’s at the beginning of the season, they likely would have said his ceiling was 20 homers and 55 RBI.

Rodriguez not only proved the naysayers (including this writer) wrong, but he did so in historic fashion. On May 7 Rodriguez passed Willie Mays on the all-time home runs list, mashing a tater off Chris Tillman of the Orioles.

A month and 12 days later, Rodriguez blasted a first-inning home run off Justin Verlander of the visiting Detroit Tigers. It was his 3,000th career hit, and only the third time in baseball history (behind Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter) a player hit the ball into the stands for his 3,000th career hit.

Rodriguez also set an AL record for most career RBI, passed 2,000 career RBI, and passed Roberto Clemente on baseball’s all-time hits list.

Oh, and with three homers in one game against the Minnesota Twins on July 25, Rodriguez became the fifth-oldest player to hit three homers in a single game.

Some possible attribution to Rodriguez’s success: making him, at age 40, the full-time designated hitter. That decision by the Yankees has paid dividends. Rodriguez appearing in 150 games this season is proof of that.

Either way, the type of season he had – I’d call that a comeback. A comeback with a vengeance.

Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year

Winner: Masahiro Tanaka

Admit it. You thought Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow was going to fall off.

Last summer when it was revealed the Yankees’ big-ticket starting pitcher had a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, most Yankee fans panicked. They feared the three words that are as common as a routine fly ball in this day and age: Tommy John surgery.

Tanaka opted to treat his tear with a platelet rich plasma injection, and came back to pitch in 2014. Before the season began, Yankee manager Joe Girardi said he expected Tanaka to make 34 starts.

Skip’ was 10 numbers off, as Tanaka made 24 starts. Forearm and wrist soreness sidelined him early in the season, plus when the opportunities arose, Girardi rested him.

Despite missing those 10 games and spending time on the disabled list, the man from Japan proved to be pretty effective when he needed to be.

On Sept. 13 in particular, he hurled seven shutout innings in the Bronx as the Yankees blanked the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-0. Although Toronto went on to win the AL East, the game was important in terms of staying in the race for the division title.

Against those same Jays at Rogers Centre on Aug. 15, Tanaka put on a virtuoso performance. He tossed a complete game five-hitter, and the Yanks beat the Jays, 4-1.

Tanaka’s won-lost record isn’t reflective of a very dominant season: 12-7. His season earned run average wasn’t bad, but not the lowest number out there: 3.51. He gave up 25 home runs over the course of the year, which in the eyes of many armchair managers, is probably too many.

But he gave the Yankees 150-plus innings. Tanaka kept the ball in the strike zone by fanning 139 hitters – and only issuing 27 walks. He performed when they needed him to perform.

And he will need to bring his maestro-like skills on Tuesday and serenade the Bronx with another rendition of the tune “Tanaka wins.”

Yankee Yapping Platinum Sluggers of the Year

Winners: Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran

The Yankees suffered a devastating blow on Aug. 17 when Mark Teixeira fouled a ball off his leg. The first baseman sustained a fracture, and the injury –a freak injury, at that – ended his season.

But before he was forced to watch the rest of the 2015 from the bench, Teixeira was raking. He crushed 31 homers and drove in 79 runs. He was on pace to smash 40 or more homers, drive in over 100 runs and analysts put his name and the term “American League Most Valuable Player” in the same sentence at certain times.

The injury may have negated it all, but make no mistake about it: Teixeira played well.

Carlos Beltran on the other hand avoided major injuries, and turned on the jets during the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, Beltran clubbed 12 of his 19 home runs. He finished with 67 RBI, 37 of which came after the midway point.

Beltran’s best may be yet to come, as he’s a well-known stud in the playoffs. So much so, in fact, that he’s earned the nickname “Senor Octubre” among some folks.

In the postseason, Beltran is a lifetime .333 hitter with 16 homers and 40 RBI. He’s also scored 45 runs, slugged .683 and owns a .445 on-base percentage.

In less than 48 hours we’ll see if he delivers, but he went out with a bang: three hits in the Yanks’ 9-4 loss to Baltimore in the season finale Sunday.

Yankee Yapping Reliever of the Year

Winner: Dellin Betances

Although he’s been struggling of late, Dellin Betances was as consistent as they come this year.

An almost automatic eighth inning shutdown machine, Betances struck out 131 hitters in just 84 innings pitched. Of those 84 innings, he only allowed 45 hits. However, his walk total was a bit high: he issued 40 free passes. But most of the time, he was able to wiggle out of danger.

Case in point: Sept. 7.

Betances walked the first three he faced, but bounced back to strike out the next three in order.

What’s more, he showed maneuverability. Betances took on the closer role when needed, and saved nine games.

Yankee Yapping Most Valuable Player

Winner: Andrew Miller

The formula was simple. A song with a statement played, the closer came in and then slammed the door.

“You can run on for a long time. Run on for a long time. Run on for a long time. Sooner or later, God’ll cut you down.”

The words heard each time Andrew Miller came in to finish off the opposing team.

Fightin’ words. One might even say words a little harsher than the lyrics to “Enter Sandman,” used by Mariano Rivera, one of Miller’s predecessors.

Harsher words, perhaps, but when the sweet sounds of Johnny Cash came blaring through the Yankee Stadium speakers, you knew the game was over.

Miller saved 36 games in 38 opportunities this season, striking out 100 batters in 61 2/3 innings. He held opponents to a .151 batting average, and tested hitters while attacking them.

A tactic Troy Tulowitzki knows about.

On Aug. 14 with the game on the line, the Blue Jays shortstop stood between the Yankees and a pivotal win. It took 12 pitches and the dramatic at-bat put the baseball world on the edge of its collective seat, but Miller got the job done.

His whiff of Tulowitzki was one of the most clutch performances of the season, and one of the many examples of how valuable he truly was.

Yankee Yapping Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Yogi Berra

The world – not just the baseball world, the world in general – lost a treasure the morning of Sept. 22.

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, the Yankees’ famed catcher and legendary philosopher, passed away at the age of 90.

Berra won the most World Series of any player in history with 13 (10 as a player, three as a coach). He smacked 358 home runs and possessed a lifetime batting average of .285. It’d be easy to sit here and write out every noted accolade Berra amassed over the course of his career.

But let’s talk about the man for a second.

Let’s mention how in love he was with his wife Carmen, and his family. Let’s mention how he served our great country as a gunner’s mate in the United States Navy during World War II. Let’s mention how his wit and easygoing personality impacted everyone around him, even those he didn’t personally know.

His fantastic “Yogi-isms” will be a part of our culture forever. Our millennial generation can now pass on his wisdom. The next era needs to know that you can observe a lot by watching, and that baseball is 90 percent half mental.

The rest is physical.

The YES Network publicly aired Berra’s funeral – a beautiful sendoff for a beautiful man. I noticed the gospel passage, which was elegantly read by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, was the same gospel passage read at my grandfather’s funeral on April 15 last year. John 14:1-7, a reading that explores comfort in a time of impending sadness.

I felt that only fitting, especially because I read an article with the headline “Yogi Berra, ‘everyone’s grandfather,’ dies.”

Again, fitting. Grandfathers have a way about them, brightening the lives of their grandchildren. How many lives has Berra illuminated with his wit and charm?

Too many to count.

Berra has a prime seat in Heaven now for the postseason. Maybe the proverbial fork in the road is the World Series.

Go ahead, Yankees. Take it.

Twitter: @YankeeYapping

Yankees vs. Houston Astros

What: American League Wild Card game

When: 8:08 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6

Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

Houston probable pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA)

New York probable pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA)


McCann shines in Atlanta homecoming, could set high-water marks down stretch

A writer once penned that a catcher who can hit is a bonus.

The Yankees have had that bonus this season, and it’s never been more evident than the last few games. Brian McCann has been swinging the bat well – a far cry from what some might consider a disappointing 2014. The 31-year-old backstop enjoyed a nice homecoming this past weekend, equaling and surpassing a few offensive numbers from last year in the process.

In fact, he now leads all major league catchers in the home run and RBI categories.

Over the last seven games, McCann is batting .320, slugging .600 and has produced a .438 on-base percentage. He’s collected eight hits over that span – two of which have left the yard – and has driven in eight runs. He’s shown a keen eye, too, drawing six walks.

Three of those six walks were issued on Friday, when the Yanks rolled into Atlanta, McCann’s former stomping grounds. McCann, as we all know, started his career with the Braves in 2005 and stayed with them until the 2013-14 offseason, when the Bronx Bombers were waiting for him with open arms.

And an open wallet, of course. McCann, a native of Athens, Georgia, elected to leave home and sign with the Yanks to the lucrative tune of $85 million over five years. This weekend, he earned his keep, showing the Braves what they’re missing along the way.

On Friday, the catcher clubbed a three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning. A home run, by the way, for which he got boisterously cheered. For the lack of a better phrase, the Braves faithful just ate up McCann’s tater, appreciating the fact that he homered 179 times in a Braves uniform.

That is, McCann smacked 176 homers for Atlanta in regular season play, and added three more round-trippers in the postseason as a Brave (he hit two home runs in the 2005 National League Division Series and one in the 2010 NLDS).

McCann being cheered upon his return to Turner Field was almost reminiscent of Tino Martinez’s homecoming to the Bronx in 2003. Martinez, a key player in the Yankees’ dynasty of the late 1990s, left New York after 2001 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

When the red birds visited the Yankees in June of 2003, Martinez smacked a home run off Andy Pettite – a shot that found a familiar landing spot in the short porch at the old stadium. It generated a positive response from the Yankee fans.

Much like McCann on Friday, the hometown audience stood up and graciously applauded its former player.

McCann’s homecoming on Friday was finalized with four RBI and three runs scored, as the Yankees trounced the Braves, 15-4.

On Saturday it got even sweeter, as he drove in one of the Yanks’ three runs. Three runs were all the Yankees needed, as they handed the Braves a 3-1 loss.

And on Sunday, he put a nice bow on it. McCann collected a hit in the series finale, drove in two runs and scored two more. His offense was a small part of the collective effort, as the baseball score looked more like a football score when it was all said and done. The Yankees wrapped up the series against the Braves by pulling out the broom for a sweep in the form of a 20-6 victory.

This past weekend wasn’t just a spectacular hitting show with McCann in the starring role, but proof of improvement from a year ago. With his home run Friday, McCann matched his 2014 home run total. He entered the weekend with 75 RBI – the amount he finished with last year – and with seven over the past three games, he eclipsed his 2014 RBI total.

Now, heading into Monday’s series opener with the Red Sox in Boston, McCann has 23 homers and 82 RBI, the most among all backstops in the bigs. McCann also has an opportunity to set career-highs in both homers and RBI this season.

His season-high number in home runs?

24, in 2011.

The most amount of runs he’s knocked in over the course of one season?

94, in 2009.

With 33 games left on the schedule, there is plenty of opportunity for McCann, who has proven he’s a good hitter; who has proven he can handle himself in pinstripes.

McCann, who has proven he is that bonus.

Twitter: @YankeeYapping

Statements, statements

It would almost be too easy to sit here and write about how Saturday’s 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins was easily the best victory of the 2015 season for the Yankees.

It was. It was a statement win. A statement of resiliency.

How can anyone say differently?

Down by five, with CC Sabathia serving up meatballs, Alex Rodriguez decided to put on a hitting show. Actually, more like a hitting clinic. Two days before his 40th birthday, Rodriguez smashed three home runs. Each was spectacular, but his first tater traveled a remarkable 452 feet and into the third porch in left-center at Target Field.

Now that was a bomb.

Rodriguez’s third home run tied the game at five in the ninth, but it was the young J.R. … sorry, John Ryan Murphy who put the exclamation point on the comeback. Murphy belted a three-run homer over the big wall in right field later in the ninth, helping the Yankees snatch a win in the face of defeat.


But not to be underscored, closer Andrew Miller came in and set the Twins down in order to complete the come-from-behind victory. It marked Miller’s 23rd save of the year, and the 23rd he has converted – yes, he has yet to blow a save.

Despite a stint on the disabled list, Miller has been all but automatic this season. The 6-foot-7 southpaw has 54 strikeouts in just 34 1/3 innings pitched, with an earned run average of 1.57.

Miller has made Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman look good. Cashman’s critics can look at last year’s closer, David Robertson, and his five blown saves on the south side of Chicago for the White Sox. The GM opted to sign Miller over Robertson in the offseason, and so far, it appears Cashman knew what he was doing.

Maybe the signing of Miller was a statement of its own, and it’s silencing the haters.

And as predicted by absolutely no one, it’s now July 26, and the Yankees are in first place in the American League East. Entering Sunday, the Bronx Bombers are 5 ½ games up on the second place Toronto Blue Jays, and 6 ½ ahead of the third place Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Orioles are in fourth, seven games out, and the lowly Boston Red Sox are in the cellar, 12 off pace.

“At the beginning of the season, I called it!” – Nobody.

The Yanks are winners of seven of their last 10, and are 13-5 in the month of July.

During the recent string of success, this writer got an opportunity to catch the Bronx Broskis live and in-person on Sunday, July 19 – a game that ended in a 2-1 pinstriped victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Felix Hernandez pitched well, but ultimately Mark Teixeira got the last laugh. The Yankee first baseman clubbed an eighth-inning solo home run, which was the game’s decider.

On second thought, everyone in attendance, including yours truly, got the last laugh. When you’re in the building and you get to watch Robinson Cano strike out twice and finish 0 for 3, you do tend to get a chuckle or two.

Like tonight, Miller came in to shut the door. And I noticed his entrance music.

Miller jogs in and warms up to “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash.

God’s gonna cut you down. Now that is one heck of a statement. Perhaps enough of a statement to induce fear into opponents.

One can’t help but think of Mariano Rivera, and how his entrance music also sent a message. One might also say Miller is pitching a lot like the legendary closer this season, not giving an inch when it comes to sealing the deal.

After they wrap up in Minnesota Sunday, the Yankees go to Texas to take on the Rangers. Following four games in Arlington, the Bombers will head to the windy city to take on their old friend Robertson and the White Sox for  three-game set. Then it’s home for three games against Boston and three against the Blue Jays.

The Rangers, White Sox and Red Sox are each playing sub-.500 ball. The Blue Jays are only one game above .500. Therefore, the Yankees have an opening to take some series and pull further ahead in the AL East.

Putting everyone far behind in the rearview mirror by mid-August? Now that would be a statement.

Twitter: @YankeeYapping

O’ poor Robinson Cano

I’m not a poet. And yes, I know it.

In just a short while, the Yankees will take on the Seattle Mariners. Which means they will see their old friend, Robinson Cano.

You remember him.

The guy who teamed up with Jay-Z. The guy who chose $240 million by way of the Pacific Northwest over the pinstripes. The guy who was this writer’s favorite player not long ago.

But all that is over.

Somehow, for whatever reason, the inner sonneteer in me surfaced and this is what it spurted out. I call it “O’ Poor Robinson Cano.”


The situation was bad, we had cause to be sad.

A player was going to go.

In the offseason, money was the reason

we said goodbye to Robinson Cano.


O’ Robinson Cano. O’ poor Robinson Cano.

With Jay-Z in hand, took his money and ran.

No matter to Robinson Cano.


He stood in the box on a cold night in the Bronx.

The fans, they yelled out ‘you blow!’

Once a cheered hero, now revered as a zero.

Booed off the field was Robinson Cano.


O’ Robinson Cano. O’ poor Robinson Cano.

Truly with no bother, left us with Brian Roberts.

No matter to Robinson Cano.


Then a night in Seattle Cano went to battle

With Tanaka, it was a show.

Cano took him deep, still the Yankees did sweep.

Moving on from Robinson Cano.


O’ Robinson Cano. O’ poor Robinson Cano.

Just two homers procured, faded and obscured.

No matter to Robinson Cano.


Still nothing contrite ‘tween he and pinstripes;

The Yankees are now a foe.

His beard is not snazzy, money must make him happy.

A sad story for Robinson Cano.


O’ Robinson Cano. O’ poor Robinson Cano.

His pockets not thin, the Mariners won’t win.

No matter to Robinson Cano.

Bernie Williams Night brings about joy, dynastic memories

There was a nostalgic feeling in the air. The old lions of the Yankee Dynasty of the late 1990s – many of the key players – were on hand.

It brought me back to the days of my childhood and I relished every minute of it.

Bernie Williams Night last Sunday was one of the most amazing and invigorating experiences I’ve had as a Yankee fan. I’d say it was on the same level as the World Series ring ceremony I attended in 2010.

I felt the need to be there, given my past history with this great man.

A.J. Martelli's photo.

The great number 51 at long last took his rightful spot in Monument Park behind the wall in centerfield, where he patrolled for 15 years in pinstripes.

Obviously I could go on and on forever talking about Williams’ accomplishments as a New York Yankee. Instead of that, however, I’ll muse about and share some pictures from his special night.

Thank you Bernie

photo (3)

photo (4)

Even before stepping foot into the ballpark, you just knew this night was going to be all about number 51.

Stopping to capture a moment from 1998

photo (6)

While walking to my seat, I happened to stumble across this picture in the concourse of Williams high-fiving third base coach Willie Randolph in a home run trot. Even though I’ve seen it before, having been to the stadium countless times, I had to pause and capture a picture. What with it being his night, I felt it necessary.

Little did I know Randolph would later appear as part of the pregame festivities.

On a side note, in 1998 Williams high-fived Randolph 26 times during the regular season and three more times in the postseason, rounding third in home run trots.

The memento

photo (5)

All fans received this neat collectible card after making their way through the turnstiles.

The dignitaries

They brought the good guys.

Roy White, Williams’ first base coach for a huge chunk of his career. He was there.

Gene “Stick” Michael, who became the Yankees’ General Manager the same year Williams made his Major League Baseball debut, 1991. He was there.

Joe Torre, Williams’ only manager throughout his career. He was there.

Randolph, and former teammates Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez. They were all there.

David Cone, Williams’ teammate from 1995-2000 and Yankee Yapping shout out artist. He was there.

The great closer, Mariano Rivera, made the drive in from New Rochelle.

And the Yankees saved the biggest surprise for last.

The return of the Captain

photo (9)

I still kick myself to this day. Sure the tickets were criminally expensive. Of course they would be. It was Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25 of last year.

The price of admission would have been worth it given the way that game ended. Jeter heroically, as he had done many times before, won the game with a clutch hit.

Understandably, I was disappointed I wasn’t there to witness it live. And I was saddened I would never see Jeter at Yankee Stadium again.

But lo and behold, the last guest at Bernie Williams night was Jeter. The captain incarnate. Admittedly, I did not think Jeter would make an appearance so soon after retiring, for that very reason – it was too soon. Jeter always struck me as the type who would wait awhile to return to big ballpark in the Bronx for a special night of this kind.

But, I was wrong. Not only was Jeter there, he strutted out like he owned the place. With the top couple buttons of his shirt unbuttoned underneath his sport coat, he looked like a million bucks.

What made it better, I thought, was the comment from a fan behind me, once Jeter was announced:

“Suit ‘em up!!!!!” the fan yelled, loud enough for everyone within a 10-mile radius to hear.

Not a bad idea, considering his heir at shortstop, Didi Gregorius, had six errors on the season entering Saturday night’s game against the Athletics in Oakland.

Overall it was such a wonderful, indescribable feeling, seeing Jeter at the game. I may not have been there for his last hurrah, but I can say I was there when he made his triumphant return to New York to pay respect to his old friend.

The speech

It was outstanding; maybe the best speech from any of the players that have been honored since 2013, when the Yankees reintroduced retiring numbers and nailing plaques to the hallowed Monument Park walls.

He was sure to thank everyone and spoke directly from the heart.

The game

Williams tossed out the honorary first pitch – a pretty good throw – to boisterous cheers from the crowd.

Unfortunately no magic from number 51 rubbed off on the Yankees. The visiting Texas Rangers had their way with starter Chris Capuano. Texas touched him up for three runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. Capuano finished with four strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter – but also didn’t impress anyone.

The Yanks only plated two runs, both of which came off the bat of catcher Brian McCann. In the bottom of the first McCann singled home Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez, but that was all the offense the Yankees could muster.

The trend

It continued. You know the trend I’m talking about.

The Yankees losing on special days. At the end of 2013, the San Francisco Giants beat the Yankees on a day the pinstripers exalted their own Mariano Rivera.

Tino Martinez, Goose Gossage and Paul O’Neill suffered the same fate in 2014. They were honored with heartwarming pregame ceremonies and Monument Park plaques, but the team just could not finish the job. The Yankees lost each of those games, most of the time without putting up an offensive fight.

The trend was bucked on Aug. 23 of last year when Joe Torre had his day. The Yanks put an end to the special day losing streak, beating the Chicago White Sox 5-3.

But on Sept. 7 – Jeter’s big day – they went right back to losing. The Kansas City Royals came in and put up two runs.

Two. The same number Jeter wore on his back his entire career. And the same amount of runs it took the Royals to beat the Bronx Bombers. It ended 2-0.

With special days lined up for Jorge Posada (Aug. 22 vs. Cleveland), Andy Pettitte (Aug. 23 vs. Cleveland) and Willie Randolph (June 20 vs. Detroit, also Old Timers’ Day), the Yankees at least have the chance to turn the tables.

But the offense will have to wake up in order for that to happen.

The Yankees have been outscored 29-9 on special days from Rivera’s day in 2013 up to Williams’ day last weekend.

The final thought

photo (8)

Was it disappointing the Yankees lost on Bernie Williams Night?

No doubt. It would have been nice to see a win.

Is it the end of the world for the 2015 Yankees as we know it?

Not at all.

The Yankees are lucky. Fortunate in the sense that the American League Eastern Division is so poor, that even with a record that barely hangs above .500, they’re in first place. The Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays all have problems.

Each team is struggling, and into the month of June it’ll be interesting to see which team – if any – heats up and pulls ahead in the race.

In the meantime, as I sat in the bleachers and watched the Rangers beat the Yankees after Williams’ nice ceremony, I had this image in my head.

Almost a clear vision.

I pictured the old Yankees who were in attendance. Jeter, O’Neill, Martinez, Cone, Williams, Pettitte, Rivera, Posada and even Torre. All of the dynasty players and their skipper, I imagined, in a luxury suite, watching the current Yankees.

Watching the current Yankees, and laughing. Laughing at how bad they are. Snickering to one another and saying,

“Can you believe they can’t beat these guys? We would’ve won this game in the first inning.”

Which is true. They certainly would have beaten the Rangers down. The Rangers came in at 20-23, and the Yankees of my youth generally never lost to a team of that below .500 caliber.

Then again, the dynasty Yankees could likely have taken down the 2015 Yankees, had they been matched up against one another. In fact, they probably could have beaten any team currently in the league.

They were that good. It was nice to relive those glory days for a night.

Rivalry reinvigorated: Subway Series interesting again

These past few days have been reminiscent of another era.

The old days of Roger Clemens beaning Mike Piazza in the head came to mind. I couldn’t get the image of Piazza standing up to Clemens after he chucked that hunk of broken bat at him during the 2000 World Series. Even my personal memory of attending the very first Subway Series at Yankee Stadium during the regular season in 1997 echoed through my brain. The battle for bragging rights in New York was on this past weekend.

And for the first time in quite a few years, this Yankee fan felt it.

Whether it was in the Poughkeepsie Journal newsroom, listening to sports talk radio in the car, or going on Facebook and Twitter, talk of the showdown between the Yankees and Mets in the Bronx this past weekend dominated my life. Mostly I was forced to listen to how the Mets had won 11 straight games entering the Subway Series, how they are currently the team to beat and how Matt Harvey is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Believe me, I took it all.

What most folks who talked up the Mets might have overlooked was the fact that, prior to the Subway Series, the Yankees had won seven of 10 on the road. They had taken one from the Baltimore Orioles, swept the Tampa Bay Rays in three games and took three of four from the Detroit Tigers.

Perhaps the hot start the Mets got off to was more impressive, and thus they got a little more ink than the Yankees.

But there the Yankees were on Friday to remind everyone who they are. In particular, Mark Teixeira and Michael Pineda made their presence felt. Teixeira clubbed two home runs of Jacob deGrom, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, while Pineda tossed 7 2/3 strong innings, giving up one run to the Mets on five hits. Pineda also struck out seven and kept the ball around the plate, walking just one batter.

It brought the Mets’ winning streak to a screeching halt, though it didn’t stop the orange and blue loyalists from reminding the pinstripers that Harvey (excuse me, Jesus Christ) was starting the following day.

Yet, their yapping was backed up and Harvey delivered Saturday. The ace silenced the Yankee bats, giving up just two runs on five hits over 8 2/3 innings. Harvey struck out seven Yankees and walked two en route to his fourth win of the season, proving that yes, he has a bright future and is a bona fide stud.

That brought us to Sunday: The rubber game. The game that decided who got the bragging rights until September, when the Yankees and Mets hook up at Citi Field.

For the first time in a long time, I really wanted the Yankees to win this game. Not that I don’t want them to win any other games; in fact, I want them to win every game, like most passionate fans.

This one, however, I truly wanted. The voices of the trash talk that was spoken, posted and tweeted at me by Mets fans ringed over and over, almost as if they were taunting me. That feeling was only fueled when ESPN opened its broadcast with a shot of a Mets fan holding a sign that read “A-Rod wears Matt Harvey underwear.”

Embedded image permalink

Cute. But, not really that creative. I’m almost certain I heard that one back in 2005, when Chuck Norris “Facts” were a thing.

Alex Rodriguez, me and the Yanks got the last laugh, as it was. Rodriguez homered off Mets starter Jonathan Niese, his 659th career tater, as he continues to creep up on Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home runs list. Rodriguez finished the series finale 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored.

Now, the Empire State Building is shining in Yankee colors because the Bombers took the series.

The feeling is great, I’ll admit — not just the feeling of the Yankees winning, but the feeling of caring about the Subway Series again. Getting caught up in the rivalry was, in a word, fun this weekend. It’s what baseball is all about.

Maybe the players got wrapped up in it, too. It’s possible. Rodriguez even told the press after the game, “The buzz was incredible. I just felt a lot of energy in the building. It was fun … To feel that energy, it was cool.”

Whomever the social media directors are for both clubs also got enveloped in the cross-town rivalry.

Which, if I’m not mistaken, is a first.

Embedded image permalink

The Mets are a team that, for at least right now, is competitive. Like 2000, the year they captured the National League pennant and faced off with the Yankees in the World Series, they have good players. More specifically the Mets have solid, young pitchers, and the organization probably feels this is the time to turn it around and return to relevance.

I can say for sure, that’s how Mets fans feel, and in a lot of ways they have the right to feel that way.

At the same time, it’s still April and there are still 143 games remaining on the schedule. Plus, the Mets clearly have other facets of their game to work on. Case and point, their defense. A team usually cannot commit four errors in a game and expect to win.

I can only hope that when September rolls around and the Yankees go to Flushing, it’s just as competitive and the rivalry is once again at a peak.

Not to mention if both the Yanks (11-8) and Mets (14-5) are racing towards a division pennant or a playoff berth when they next meet, it’ll be even more riveting.

Twitter: @YankeeYapping

Yankees remind us why we love “The Sandlot”

Reason number 112,975,921 why we love the Yankees: They reenacted a scene from the classic movie “The Sandlot.”

This past week, Major League Baseball posted the video.

I can remember going on a class field trip as a kid, and on the bus ride there watching “The Sandlot.” I instantly fell in love with it. I think it’s one of my favorite baseball movies because baseball is a kid’s game. “The Sandlot” really portrays how fun it is to get together with your friends and play baseball during your growing years.

Watching it for the first time it reminded me (and still to this day it reminds me) of how I played baseball with my own friends growing up; in a lot of ways I was watching me and my own friends.


I think many folks who grew up playing the game among friends can probably relate to everything they see in the movie.

There’s always the loudmouth, like Ham Porter. There’s always the shy, new kid on the block who has no idea what he’s doing but he’s too nice so he has to be included, like Smalls. Usually there’s a kid who just goes along with whatever everyone else is saying, like Yeah Yeah. There’s a lovable nerd, like Squints. And generally there’s a gifted athlete in the group, like Benny the jet.

Jacoby Ellsbury made a great Squints. Brett Gardner was OK as Smalls, but not that convincing. It’s easy to tell he’s not an actor, but if Gardner can put on a 20 home run, 80 RBI, .285 batting average and 50 stolen base performance for 2015, we’ll all be fine with it.

The best performance, in this writer’s humble opinion, was that of Brian McCann. His portrayal of Ham was spot-on, from his facial expressions down to his delivery. It was perfect.

I liked the scene the Yankees chose to reenact. It was fitting, I suppose, because the Yankees have obvious ties to Babe Ruth. So much of “The Sandlot” had to do with Ruth, from the signed baseball down to the great bambino visiting Benny the jet in his dreams.

And really, who honestly knew about all of Ruth’s nicknames before they saw the movie? I know I didn’t. “The Sandlot” was there to fill me in.

“The king of crash, man.”

My favorite scene in the movie had to be when they played a “night game” on the fourth of July. Benny rounds up the collection of young ballplayers and tells them, “get your glove, let’s go. Night game.” They leave the fun of the neighborhood block party and go to the sandlot to play a game, using the fireworks to see, given there were no lights at their little “baseball heaven.” I still love Smalls’ grown-up voiceover explaining the scene:

“There was only one night game a year. On the fourth of July, the whole sky would brighten up with fireworks, giving us just enough light for a game. We played our best then, because I guess we all felt like the big leaguers, playing under the lights of some great stadium. Benny felt like that all the time. We all knew he was going to go on to bigger and better games, because every time we stopped to watch the sky on those nights, he was there to call us back.

“You see, for us, baseball was a game. But for Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life.”

The outtakes were just as funny.

It’s good to see the team having fun. Team chemistry is important because as we saw in 2009, it leads to great things.

And speaking of great things, opening day is rapidly approaching. So beat the drum and hold the phone, because the Yankees will be playing ball at 1:05 p.m. Monday at the big ballpark in the Bronx against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The forgotten fight

Everyone remembers the 1998 Yankees for being winners. Winners during the regular season, winners during the postseason and of course winners of the World Series.

The ’98 champions get a lot of credit for what they accomplished on the field, but not enough credit for being feisty and gritty — which, I think, is why they were so successful.

I can recall watching a game with my family on a September night in 1998. The 11th. Just three years to the day before tragedy struck our nation. Yankees vs. the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx. Roger Clemens, who a year later would become a pinstriper himself, beaned third baseman Scott Brosius with a fastball.

Afterwards, madness ensued.

The Yankees’ ’98 fight with the Baltimore Orioles is one of the most remembered melees in the Bronx Bombers’ history, but this fight deserves some props:

Checking back

Hello all,

My new job, which was well-documented in my last post, has been keeping me as busy as a bee these days. Thus, leaving me less time for Yankee Yapping.

However, I happen to have a few minutes right now and figured, why not touch on some offseason happenings?

Here goes…

Max Scherzer went to the Nationals. Not surprising the Yankees didn’t sign him, I suppose. I heard rumblings that Stephen Strasburg might be on the trade block on account of this signing. If the Yankees aren’t going to give up Luis Severino or Aaron Judge, who just made baseball’s top 100 prospect list, I’d say try and set a package for Strasburg. Keep in mind James Shields is still out there, too.

Ernie Banks passed away. Rest easy, Mr. Cub. Banks, a true gentleman of the game, hit 512 home runs over the course of his illustrious career. I’ll most remember his hilarious appearance on “Married…with Children.” At the opening of a sports bar, Al Bundy took several photos with Mr. Cub; so many, in fact, that he blinded him with his camera!

Derek Jeter is still retired. We are all still sad. I do need to get my hands on his new book, though, and give it a read.

Stephen Drew is going to be a Yankee next year. Upsetting, I know. However, I’m interested to see if he will perform better from actually participating in spring training this year.

Alex Rodriguez has been strangely quiet. Good. Let’s, uhh, keep it that way.

CC Sabathia says he is healthy. Of course what he says and what’s real are two different things. I say one more setback and it could be time for the big man to pack it in. Yet, I am hopeful he closes my mouth by coming back and winning 20 games.

Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow. Elbow-watch will go into effect on Feb. 20 when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Lord, I don’t ask you for much: Let Tanaka’s elbow be healthy and serviceable for all of 2015.

Ichiro signed with the Miami Marlins. Good for Ich’. I’m pulling for him to reach 3,000 MLB hits – although take into consideration that he has over 4,000 hits if you combine his work from Japan.

There are 65 days until opening day. That’s according to the Yankees official Facebook page, which literally lets us know every single day how many days are left until opening day.

Deflategate happened. And then we heard, “You can’t deflate a baseball.” Hmm. True. But, there are ways to cheat in every sport. Which leads me into my next point…

Tom Brady cannot be compared to Derek Jeter. Not that anyone is comparing them. You can’t compare them. It’s like trying to put Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker up against Heath Ledger’s Joker. There is no comparing them. Which also is a nice segue:

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. And Brady is probably thankful he’s not facing Eli Manning again. To me, this game has no appeal. I dislike the Seahawks – mainly because of their “we’re better than you” attitude. Plus, needless to say, I am not a Patriots fan. So whoever wins, I lose. At least after tomorrow it’ll be over. Then soon enough, baseball will be back.

Thanks for reading, folks. I’ll try and have more for you in February!

Turning the page


The Yankees’ offseason thus far hasn’t been as eyebrow-raising as last year. In fact most has been quiet on the pinstripe front, save for the addition of Didi Gregorius as Derek Jeter’s heir at shortstop, the signing lefty flamethrower Andrew Miller, and the re-signing of Chase Headley to play third base. There have been more significant subtractions than additions, putting it into perspective, what with the departures of Brandon McCarthy, David Robertson and Francisco Cervelli.

Lately the conversation seems to be surrounding big ticket free agent starter Max Scherzer, and whether or not the Yankees will make a run to try and ink him. Your guess is as good as mine. General Manager Brian Cashman has pledged several times that the organization has no plans to pursue Scherzer, but keep this in the back of your head: they are still the Yankees. Just when you think they are nowhere near landing a top tier free agent, they swoop in at the last minute and snatch their man.

And if you don’t believe that, just ask Mark Teixeira. It happened to him nearly six years ago.

While the Yankees haven’t been making the loudest amount of noise this winter, my life was shaken up recently – shaken up in a good way.

For the past three-plus years I have been working for The Examiner, a local newsweekly in Westchester County, N.Y.


It’s been a great experience reporting on the local sports scene in Westchester. But a few weeks ago a new opportunity presented itself to me, I took advantage, and I am moving on to a new job. I’ll now be a full-time sports reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal, a daily newspaper a couple counties north of Westchester in Dutchess County, N.Y., which coincidently is where I grew up.

The clichéd phrase I keep repeating to myself is, “Who says you can’t go home?”


The Poughkeepsie Journal is the oldest paper in the state of New York and the third-oldest newspaper in this country – just to give you an idea of how prestigious and renowned the Journal really is. What’s more, I think I made some history, because I was told I am the first new person PoJo has hired in the sports department since 2006.

These past few weeks have been draining on me; the interview process, waiting to know if I had landed the job. It was certainly a relief when it was offered to me a week and a half ago, although I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous taking on this new challenge. As a professional I obviously gave The Examiner notice that I was leaving and have finished up my duties there.

I won’t soon forget the lessons I learned over the past few years; the opportunities The Examiner has afforded me. From interviewing Eli Manning a handful of times and covering the Hudson Valley Renegades each summer, all the way down to high school hoops and lacrosse – it’s been a blast.

Not only will I remember the lessons and experiences from these past few years, but I won’t forget the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. That’s the beauty of life – those people and what they’ve done for you never leave; they stick with you for the long haul. And since I have the forum here, I’d like to take this time and individually thank those who helped get me to where I am, because I didn’t get here by myself.

First of all, I’d like to take a page out of the great Mariano Rivera’s book and thank God.


I have been doing what I love to do for a long time now and I wouldn’t be where I am without The Lord’s blessings. He provided me with writing and reporting talent worthy of this new job. I’ve been in constant contact with God by way of prayer these last few weeks, and my prayers have been answered. If I don’t say it enough, thank you, Lord. For everything.

Thanks to my parents. For always believing in me and being patient with my trying ways throughout my life and through this whole process of job changing. Your constant faith in me has gone a long way and will continue to go a long way in the years to come. Stating the obvious, but I wouldn’t be here without both of you.

Thanks to my sisters, and their kids: my nephew Ryan and my niece Avery. The four of you have given me a lot of support and love for the longest time. Ryan and Avery have also shown me that life can be simple and uncomplicated – though that probably has to do with the fact that Ryan is a 3-year-old and Avery just turned 1. Either way, the love hasn’t gone unnoticed.

At the same time, special thanks goes out to both my grandfathers (I lost one of them earlier this year, yet he always loved that I was working and writing, and I know he would be proud). Additionally, thanks to my entire family. You’re all one of a kind, that’s for sure. You have all taken good care of me over the years, and it hasn’t gone unappreciated.

To all my friends; past and present – thank you. There are far too many to name, which is probably a good thing. You can never have enough friends. I may not see or speak to as many of you as I’d like to nowadays; understandable because we’re grown-ups, and time is never on our side. But that hasn’t stopped most of you from reading my articles over the years and giving me feedback. Thank you for always letting me know I’m a good writer. It helped me land this job.

I can’t fill out this list without thanking Mike Perrota, my main journalism instructor from Mercy College. Naming me sports editor of The Impact in my second-to-last year at Mercy was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. Perrota, you have taught me the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts. I hope I’ve made you proud since I graduated in 2010, and I am glad we have remained friends ever since.


A big thank you is owed to Rob DiAntonio. Thanks for bringing me in as a freelancer with North County News on Nov. 5, 2010: the DeMatteo Bowl between Yorktown and Clarkstown North at White Plains high school – I won’t forget that. Thanks for also helping me realize my potential a little bit. I still have this e-mail saved, by the way:


I can’t go without thanking my friend Sean Faye, an outstanding reporter in his own right and my college newspaper teammate who recommended me to The Examiner. Your word opened the door to a new opportunity that I was able to take advantage of and make my own. I wouldn’t have done it without you.

To Adam Stone, the publisher of The Examiner – thank you. Professionally I’ve been in great hands these last few years. You have been a tremendous boss; as good as they come. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me at The Examiner, including speaking highly of me to PoJo. I would recommend any young sports journalist out there to go to The Examiner to cut their teeth. I know first-hand how much better a reporter can become from working at The Examiner – and not only do I think I became a better journalist working for you, I became a better person. Thanks for everything.

To Andy Jacobs and Ray Gallagher, the two sports editors I’ve worked closely with these last few years: thank you. I hope I didn’t drive you both incredibly nuts – I don’t think I did, because I always met my deadlines accordingly, and we always got along so nicely. The two of you have been a pleasure to work with, keeping me as busy as a bee with games to cover. It’s been an honor, gentlemen.

To my colleague David Propper: many thanks. We spent countless Tuesday mornings chatting about coaches and games; reminiscing on sports coverage, almost as if we were two old time journalists reflecting on the “good ol’ days.” It’s been great, my friend. Stay in touch.

My fellow reporter over at the Yorktown News, Mike Sabini, deserves a thank you for always supporting me and being one of my biggest fans. Likewise, I’ve been a fan of your work. I’ll miss hearing your voice at the Peekskill basketball games, but I will keep reading your bylines in the Yorktown News. Keep in touch, my friend.

Another fellow reporter of mine earned a shout out: Mike Zacchio. You were one of the only ones I really opened up to about going after this new job and you did nothing but encourage me and root for me. I can’t thank you enough for calling me “an awesome reporter who deserves this” and saying PoJo would “be lucky to have me.” I hope to see you at some games down the road that we both might be covering. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about our karaoke night – it will happen and we will sing “Runaround Sue” together.


There’s a coach out there whom I’ve known for the past few years, and he deserves a real hat tip. Coach Lance DeMarzo of Kennedy Catholic high school in Somers – you are a great man; as classy as it gets. Thanks for staying in touch all the time, making my job easier in the process. When I told you that, if all coaches were like you I’d have it really easy, I meant it 100 percent. I am truly going to miss you telling me that your team loves picking up The Examiner just to read my articles. That sort of spirit gives a reporter a positive feeling.


I should mention Jared Sandberg, the former manager of the Hudson Valley Renegades, former MLB player with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and nephew of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. The second time I interviewed Jared he asked which publication I was with. I told him the obvious, that I was with The Examiner, and he told me that not only did he read my first article about the Renegades, but he liked it. Again, that type of giveback never ceases to give a journalist a wonderful feeling.


To the readers of Yankee Yapping and all of my work in general, thank you. Thanks to you guys my writing has grown better, and this blog has blown up to the point that David Cone is mentioning it during Yankee telecasts. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t be anywhere without all of you.

And last but never the least, I’d like to thank everyone at the Poughkeepsie Journal, particularly my friend and new colleague Phil Strum, who recommended me for the position. I can assure you I am going to work as hard as I can to ensure the best sports coverage. I will give it my all.

Now that I’ve exhausted myself of thanks and praise to all those who rightfully deserve it from me, and I’ve all but turned the page, it’s on to the next chapter…



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers