Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
The New York Yankees cruised into a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox tonight.
It was a wild game filled with a lot of news and stories. Here is what I made of it all…
It is kind of strange what happened to the Boston ace in this game.
Beckett started off strong, fanning five of the first six batters he faced. He seemed to be rolling along, looking untouchable up until the sixth inning. But everything came unglued for him and things got out of hand.
In the top of the sixth inning, Beckett gave up six runs on four hits, faced 11 Yankees, and was run from the game. He ended the night with 5 1/3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on nine hits. He walked three batters, hit two, and struck out eight.
Aside from the number of strikeouts, his line tonight was horrendous.
In the sixth inning, Beckett put Robinson Cano out. Throwing a blazing fastball, Cano was hit on the inset of his left knee. Being the fighter that he is, Cano tried to stay in the game and walked down to first. He later decided better of it and came out of the game.
In the same inning, Derek Jeter was hit with a pitch and Beckett also came up and in on Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli. It’s obvious his control was a non-factor at that point, but it may have been more than that.
I have never seen Beckett in that form. Usually he has pinpoint accuracy and can locate with each of his pitches. I am not going to accuse him of intentionally hitting Cano (and I can’t say he beaned Jeter on purpose, because the bases were loaded) but I will say he looked like he did not care. To me, he came off as very arrogant, even in defeat.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel he acted like a sore loser.
At that point in the game, the Yankees were hitting him hard; he intentionally walked Brett Gardner to load the bases and face Cervelli, a move that backfired. After that happened, I think he gave up on the game and did not care anymore.
At one point in the inning, Alex Rodriguez mouthed “Enough is enough already,” directed at Beckett’s control issues. The Yankees were taking notice of his command problem and were not happy. They even got up on the top step of their dugout and just looked ready to pounce.
I wish they had. They could have hit Beckett and let him know how it feels.
After his outing tonight, Beckett now owns an earned run average of 7.46 and his season record is 1-1. By far, this is Beckett at his worst. He has been one of the most paramount and dominant pitchers over the last seven years and he has never been this bad.
I don’t mind that he was hit hard by the Yankees. I am however holding contempt for the fact that he plunked Jeter and put Cano out.
Right now Nick Swisher is en fuego.
The cool dude in a loose mood belted his sixth homer of the year in the top of the fourth off Beckett. For Swisher, it was his second home run in as many games and his fourth in six games.
Beckett just hung a breaking too high and Swisher crushed it.
This year the Yankee right fielder looks a lot better in terms of his swing and his defense. He doesn’t look so stiff out there, and part of that I chalk up to experience. He got his first year as a Yankee out of the way, and now he is rolling.
And with so many Yanks injured, it’s good to have him stepping up and hitting.
During the post game interview with the YES Network, Swisher mentioned that he visited a hospital this afternoon. He dedicated his home run to the child he met with today, which I thought was a class act. But that’s Swisher’s personality; I’m not surprised he said that.
His words reminded me of Brett Gardner last year. On May 15 of last season, Gardner visited a hospital and promised a girl he would try and hit a home run. He wound up getting an inside-the-park round-tripper.
As for Swisher, right now he is hitting .286 coupled with 20 RBIs and 16 runs scored.
Keep it up, Swisher!
He is really becoming “one of our guys,” if you will.
Tonight, Phil Hughes matched Beckett pitch-for-pitch and went on to beat Boston and earn his fourth win of 2010. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven masterful innings, and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one hitter and struck out seven.
Hughes’s stuff was electric tonight. His breaking ball was working beautifully and his fastball was live and exploding through the strike zone. He went right after Boston’s best hitters and got them out one by one.
In the top of the third, Hughes caught Marco Scutaro looking on probably the nastiest curveball I have ever seen. The ball started up at Scutaro’s eyes, it seemed, and landed belt-high for a strikeout.
That breaking ball was so gross, it buckled Scutaro’s knees.
At the end of the night, Hughes is now 4-0 on the year, becoming the fourth Yankee starter to have four wins on the season. His earned run average went up a little bit, going from 1.44 to 1.69, but his work tonight speaks for itself.
Tonight also marked Hughes’s first career win over the Red Sox.
The Yankees have to be feeling very good about Hughes right now. Looking forward, he has a chance to win a lot of games this year. If he continues to work as effectively as he did tonight, he can make a Cy Young Award push.
At this point, Hughes is the best pitcher in the American League, if you ask me.
Back during spring training, I never thought I would be saying that! Hughes has done a fine job of clearing the air and making the statement that he belongs in the Yankee rotation.
Hughes is our guy. That about says it all.
–Nick Johnson left the game with an apparent wrist injury. He was sent back to New York for an MRI and obviously won’t be playing for the rest of the weekend.
It never ceases to amaze me. Johnson had the best game he’s played all year on Wednesday. Two days later, he kills it.
Why did we get him again?
–Joe Girardi said a roster move will be made to replace Johnson. After the game tonight he mentioned the possibility of calling up an infielder from the minors.
–Every Yankee except Johnson, Cano, Ramiro Pena, and Gardner knocked in at least one run tonight.
–”I’d be surprised if Cano plays tomorrow,” Girardi said. Cano took that bean ball on the knee pretty hard, and even he said he would have to assess how he is feeling tomorrow.
I hope he plays. He is one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters and they need him. But if he has to miss a day, I say he should take it. It’s just frustrating, because he was hit with a pitch. If he hadn’t gotten hit, he would be fine.
–Jorge Posada, still nursing that balky calf, didn’t play tonight. He is still day-to-day, so hopefully he plays tomorrow.
There is only so much catching Francisco Cervelli can do…although he is doing just fine. He went 2-for-3 tonight with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. He is kind of flying under the radar, but quietly putting together a great year!
–Retaliation tomorrow afternoon? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We will have to wait and see. The Red Sox certainly deserve to know what it feels like to have one of their top guys plunked.
God forbid Kevin Youkilis get beaned, though. For the amount of times he has been thrown at by Yankee pitching in his career, I wouldn’t be surprised if he charged the mound. It’s alright; CC would just have to sit on him, and the Yanks would win the fight.
–As announced before the game, Andy Pettitte will miss his next scheduled start against the Tigers on Tuesday. Javier Vazquez will make the start Tuesday and Sergio Mitre will start Monday.
Girardi set this up so that Vazquez will pitch the first game against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday, May 21. It might be a good idea, considering he probably has a better shot at winning against a National League team.
–Tomorrow afternoon it is CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97 ERA)
–The Yankees are now 3-1 vs. Boston this season and are 20-8 overall. A stark contrast to last year when they began 0-8 in their first eight games against the Red Sox.
–The Yanks snapped Boston’s four-game win streak tonight and extended their win streak to five games.
About this time last year, the New York Yankees were not in the best shape. They had yet to hit their stride and were en route to going 0-8 in their first eight games vs. the Boston Red Sox. The Bronx Bombers eventually got it going, took over the American League East, and the rest is history.
This season things have begun differently.
On April 4, the Yanks and Red Sox opened the 2010 MLB season. Boston managed to rally back from a 5-1 deficit and beat the Yankees in the first game. The next two games belonged to New York however, as the Yanks bounced back from the heartbreaking Opening Night loss and took the series from the Red Sox, two games to one.
Tonight the rivalry heats up again at Fenway Park and the odds are looking to be in the Yankees’ favor. Since the last time they met, the Bombers have elevated their season record to 19-8, winning every series they have played this year except one. The Red Sox have been a different story, going 15-14 through the first 29 games this year.
Both teams are in significantly different places right now.
This weekend, more pressure is on the Red Sox to keep winning than the Yankees, even though both squads are on four-game winning streaks. If the Yankees were to sweep the Red Sox or take two games out of three, Boston will be put so far behind in the rearview mirror they would need a racecar to catch up.
At press time, they are 6 1/2 games out of first place and sitting in fourth place in the AL East standings. Meanwhile, the Yanks are 11 games above .500, have won seven of their last nine games, and are 1 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in second place.
Obviously the Yankees are better off than Boston, at least at this point.
Josh Beckett will look to keep Boston on their winning streak this evening. The Boston ace is not having an easy year so far, owning a record of 1-0 with a bloated 6.31 ERA. His last time out against the Yankees, he was lit up for five runs and eight hits over just 4 2/3 innings.
It always seems to be “feast or famine” for the Yanks against Beckett. Throughout his career, the right-hander has both dominated the Yankees and been dominated by the Yankees. His last time out vs. New York he was touched up, even though the Boston offense bailed him out of it and captured the win.
Opposing Beckett will be 23 year-old Phil Hughes. The youngster will be gunning for his fourth win of 2010 and will be looking for his first career win against the Red Sox. Lifetime vs. Boston, Hughes is 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA.
Making his third career start against the Red Sox, the Yankees’ number five starter is coming off a brilliant game against the White Sox in which he scattered four hits over seven innings of scoreless work. If Hughes were to win tonight, he would become the fourth Yankee starter to have recorded four wins this season.
On Saturday afternoon the Yankees will turn to their ace, CC Sabathia. The big man has a 5-5 lifetime record with a 3.62 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox. Last season, Sabathia pitched a number of big games against the Yanks’ archrivals, and showcased electric stuff in all of his starts vs. Boston.
In fact, on Aug. 8 last season, Sabathia worked 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball until Jacoby Ellsbury spoiled it with a two-out single. Sabathia tossed 7 2/3 innings that day and gave up no runs on just two hits. He walked two batters and struck out a season-high nine.
The Yankees went on to win that game 5-0 behind Sabathia’s gem.
Matching up against Sabathia is Clay Buchholz, who ironically enough faced him in that same game last August. Despite Boston’s struggles this year, Buchholz has been relatively consistent. The 25 year-old righty is 3-2 this season with an ERA of 2.97.
Opponents are hitting .261 against Buchholz this year and he has given up three earned runs or fewer in three of his four starts this year. However, he is 0-1 with a 5.74 ERA in his career against the Yankees, indicating that he has a rough time when he is under the bright lights of the greatest rivalry in sports.
Against an ace like Sabathia and with the way hitters like Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher have been swinging the bat lately, Buchholz may be in for a long afternoon on Saturday. But if he pitches the way he is capable of pitching and is on top of things as he can be, the Yankees could fall down on a hard day.
On Sunday night the weekend series will wrap up.
Boston will send 26 year-old left-hander Jon Lester to the mound in the series finale. So far this season, Lester is 2-2 with a 3.93 ERA.
His last start against the Yanks came on April 6 and he did not dazzle anyone. Lester tossed five innings the last time he faced New York and gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked three batters and struck out four.
Lester has to be careful with some of the Yankee hitters. Alex Rodriguez has taken him deep twice in his career along with hitting a double. Derek Jeter owns a lifetime batting average over .300 against Lester and Mark Teixeira also has a homer off the Boston hurler.
A.J. Burnett will take the hill for the Yankees, hoping to notch his fifth win of 2010. Although he did not enjoy much success against the Red Sox last season, Burnett still holds a lifetime record of 5-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 career starts vs. Boston.
This season Burnett has started a lot more effectively, has an ERA under two at 1.99, and worked on getting his breaking ball back to dominant status. In his last start vs. Baltimore at home, Burnett puzzled the Orioles with his curveball for one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out eight batters along the way.
If Burnett brings that kind of game with him, the BoSox are in trouble.
While the season is quite young and the division winner will not be determined for a good long time, the pressure is on for Boston. They must heed the words of a sage Yankee, who once said, “It gets dark early out there.”
This of course means that if the Red Sox do not rise to the challenge and hit their stride, it could quickly become a two-team race for the AL East–Tampa Bay and New York.
Also seen at Bleacher Report
It’s been a crazy weekend in baseball!
I’d first like to begin by letting everyone know the Yankees have now won four in a row and have taken the first four series of the young season from their opponents. This is the first time the Yankees have done this since 1926, indicating one of the finest starts I have ever seen the team get off to.
Michael Kay said yesterday that “New Yorkers always look for the negatives,” speaking of Mark Teixeira’s huge slump. He may or may not be out of it, what with his towering, second-deck home run in the Yanks’ 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers this afternoon.
That moon shot marked Teixeira’s first homer this year.
Maybe when the Yanks hit the road this week and head out west he can really breakout and have a monster tear. I know Teixeira is historically a slow starter, but he is too good to keep down for so long. I still feel he will finish with a ton of home runs, over 100 RBIs, and close to, if not over, 100 runs scored.
As they say, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.
The Yankees will now head to Oakland to start a series against the Athletics, who are turning a lot of heads in the AL West division. The A’s are currently in first place with a record of 9-4 in the West.
Tuesday, Javier Vazquez and Gio Gonzalez will open up the series. Phil Hughes will square off with Ben Sheets on Wednesday night. Finally on Thursday, CC Sabathia will face Dallas Braden to close it all out.
It should be a good set of games out in Oakland and the Yankees will be on the road for the next nine games. After Oakland they will travel to Anaheim to play the Angels for three games. After that, they come back to the east coast to play against the Orioles in Baltimore.
The Yankees return home on April 30 to host the White Sox. Long trip! Looks like their frequent-flier miles will be put to good use.
I wanted to mention the struggles of the Boston Red Sox. At this point in the season they are probably one of the worst teams in the American League, just coming off being swept in three games by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees and Rays sit atop the division with identical 9-3 records.
Toronto is in third with a record of 7-6, one game over .500. Boston is 4-8 in fourth while the Baltimore Orioles are 2-11.
It seems this year could very well be a two-team race. I know it’s way too early to be speaking about the Division title, but if Boston keeps struggling the way they are, they might fall so far out of first place it will very difficult to make a comeback.
Not saying it can’t happen; in the 1970s the Yankees were 14 games behind the Red Sox in July and somehow came back to win the AL East. They called it the “Boston Massacre” back when it happened. If Boston wants the crown enough, they can certainly come back and get it.
At this point in the season however, the Yankees and Rays are better.
What a great story!
Last night, Ubaldo Jimenez became the first pitcher in the Colorado Rockies’ 18 year history to toss a no-hitter. The 26 year-old righty no-hit the Atlanta Braves en route to a 4-0 Rockies win.
His no-no reminded me a lot of A.J. Burnett’s back in 2001. When with the Marlins, Burnett tossed a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres and the Fish won 3-0. Burnett did get his no-no, but he walked nine batters in the game.
Although he was in shutdown mode, Jimenez walked six Braves in the game.
Jimenez owes his life to Dexter Fowler, who made a spectacular circus catch in the seventh inning to preserve the no-hitter. Fowler got on his horse, dove, and robbed Troy Glaus of a hit in the left-centerfield gap.
Pretty play. Jimenez should buy Fowler a Rolex for that one.
That catch reminded me of Dewayne Wise’s catch last summer to save Mark Buerhle’s perfect game. Wise leapt the wall and took a home run away from Gabe Kapler and helped lead Buerhle to a perfect game. Keep in mind Buerhle had already thrown a no-hitter in 2007.
As for Jimenez, great work. And congrats on the big no-no.
I never though it would end. I have to give the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals all the credit in the world for how they both played this game.
On Saturday, the Mets and Cards played for six hours and 53 minutes, a 20-inning game. The Mets came out on top, 2-1.
I’m not sure what it was. I suppose a combination of terrible hitting, very good pitching, and strange choices. The Mets first three hitters (meaning Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, and David Wright) were a combined 3-for-20 in the game.
Reyes and Jeff Francoeur were the only two Mets who recorded RBIs. The team left a total of 18 men on base and struck out 16 times. It took the Mets five innings to record a hit, as Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia no-hit the Mets up until Angel Pagan singled in the top of the sixth.
The Cardinals just confused me with some of their moves. They had Kyle Lohse, a pitcher, playing the outfield. Later in the game they had two position players on the mound. Joe Mather, an outfielder, recorded the loss in this game.
In the 14th and 16th innings, the Cardinals sent their relief pitcher to the plate to bat with the bases loaded. In both instances, the Cardinals could have won the game by using a pinch-hitter, yet instead they opted to use relief pitchers to hit.
Why? I have no clue. I guess they wanted to save their bullpen, but it cost them.
In any event it was a good game; very fun to watch. It was one of the more exciting games to watch this year, and maybe it can turn things around for the Mets. For as much of a Yankee fan as I am, I think the NL East is too boring.
The Phillies have dominated that division for too long. If the Mets can win games like yesterday (in that never-say-die attitude) they can make it more interesting. I don’t want to see the Phillies back in the World Series.
Besides, I’d rather see a Subway Series in October. But of course we all know which team would win that…
The Sunday night heartbreaker seems like a lifetime ago. The New York Yankees got their first loss of the 2010 season out of the way Sunday night but bounced back and picked up their first win Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4.
It feels great knowing the Bombers won’t be 0-8 vs. Boston this year.
There were so many things going on tonight, so I will just dive right into the analysis.
· A.J. Burnett
It wasn’t clear which version of A.J. Burnett showed up tonight. In the first inning, the lanky righty gave up a run which wasn’t really his fault. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a sloppy defensive play in the outfield and eventually scored.
Really the only hitter who feasted off Burnett tonight was Victor Martinez. The Boston catcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against the Yankee starter.
The final line for Burnett: five innings, four runs (only three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and five Ks. If you ask me, his line was mediocre. Not good, but could have been much worse. For his first start he didn’t pitch poorly.
The best pitch he threw all night had to be a disgusting breaking ball he got Kevin Youkilis looking on. Burnett introduced the Boston first baseman to his uncle Charlie!
Also, he and Jorge Posada looked to be on the same page. We need that!
His next start will most likely come Sunday in Tampa against the Rays.
· The Bullpen
What a difference two days make! The Yankee relievers came ready to play tonight. Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera: four innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.
A huge, HUGE improvement over Sunday night!
Aceves looked unbelievably good. He can just come into a game and shut the hitters down. He tossed two scoreless innings and for his efforts he picked up the win.
And how about Chamberlain? He turned back the clock! His outing was 2007-esque.
The big reliever entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and sat down Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on strikes. But the real story was his velocity. He was lighting up the speed gun at 96-98 mph.
First Pumps for everybody!
And in the ninth–who else but Rivera. He slammed the door for the first time this year and the 527th time in his career. I think he will get a ton of saves this year.
· Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano
Both of these guys had pretty big nights.
Nick Johnson was 0-for-2 but walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. He also took one for the team and was hit by a pitch. He is a patient hitter and has shown that he can reach base, but I tend to worry about his health. Hopefully he doesn’t get plunked anymore this year.
And then there’s Robinson Cano.
The young second baseman was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, and two RBIs. He put on a hitting show tonight and he’s just going to keep getting better. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the year, he may hit 30 home runs and drive in 120 runs.
I have so much faith in Cano. Every time I watch him, it’s like he gets better and better. His solo home run in the ninth gave the Yanks a 6-4 cushion to put Boston away.
- Other Notes
–Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with an RBI double and Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out which scored Curtis Granderson.
–Nick Swisher knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI double in the top of the second. Nick at Nite!
–I didn’t really get great vibes from Marcus Thames tonight. In the first inning, he missed a ball in left field which could have been easily caught by Brett Gardner…or Johnny Damon…
Thames only started because he supposedly “wears out” left-handed pitching and Jon Lester (a lefty) was on the mound for the Red Sox. Well, Thames only had 0 hits tonight. Way to wear ‘em out.
–Derek Jeter made two awesome plays on defense tonight. I’d like to know who the moron was who said his range has gone down. He is ageless.
–The Yankees committed three errors tonight. Boston committed one, but it was a big one–it kept the eighth inning alive for Johnson to draw the bases-loaded walk.
–Hideki Okajima was the Boston pitcher who walked in Johnson with the bases chucked. They call him “Okey Dok” in Boston. Okey Dok, thank you for your lack of control.
–Tomorrow night the rubber game against Boston will be played. Andy Pettitte will make the start against John Lackey.
–The Yankees are off Thursday then open up a three-day weekend series in Tampa Bay.
What an upsetting night. That’s really all I can say. On Opening Night, the most exciting day on the calendar, baseball’s “New Year” if you will, the New York Yankees dropped a 9-7 decision to the hated Boston Red Sox.
With the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, Curtis Granderson grounded out to third to end the game. But long before Granderson made the last out, the Yankees coughed up two leads.
Up 5-1, the Yankees allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the sixth. The Yankees took back the lead in the seventh, going up 7-5 only to let Boston come back and score four runs to win the inaugural baseball game in the 2010 season.
What a crazy and tragic way to open the year. Horrible.
· Granderson looked to fit right in, hitting a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee. The last player to accomplish that feat was Cody Ransom in 2008.
· Jorge Posada, who was recently suffering from a stiff neck, was 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs, and a walk. The Yankee catcher looks to be in top form, which is exactly what they need.
Posada now has four opening Day homers and is tied for second place with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra on the Yankees’ Opening Day home runs list. Babe Ruth is first with five. If Posada goes deep next year on Opening Day, he will certainly be in elite company with the Babe.
· CC Sabathia up until the sixth inning. He was rolling, but just seemed to run out of petrol. He finished the night with 5 1/3 innings of work under his belt, and he scattered five earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. He threw 104 pitches, 58 for strikes.
· Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Not bad, captain.
· The double steal: EXCELLENT move. It could not have gone better for the Yankees. Credit Brett Gardner with a steal of home! I hope Joe Girardi pushes other teams this way in the future.
- The wild pitch by Damaso Marte. This angered me immensely. He cannot do much more of that this year.
- Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia: combined 5-for-8 with a homer (by Pedroia) and five RBIs. Yuck. I really hope they both cool off before Tuesday.
- Chan Ho Park–everything he did tonight, he should never do again. Maybe the Yankees should have put Royce Ring on the roster…?
- The Yankees left nine men on base. Totally the opposite of cool.
- Joba Chamberlain: 1 1/3 innings, one earned run, two hits, one walk, no Ks. His slider was moving nicely (I’ll give him that) but the line…not pretty.
- Neil Diamond singing that awful “Sweet Caroline” song in the middle of the eighth inning. Lame!
Overall, it was not such a great night. Exciting, yes, but it would have been better if the Yankees came out on top.
The Yanks will be back at it Tuesday. A.J. Burnett vs. Jon Lester. We need Dr. Jekyll to show up, because the Yankees could use a win after tonight’s sour loss. Just remember that the Red Sox have not “put us back into our place,” as they might think.
There are 161 games left. And we are STILL the reigning World Champions!
Well gang, here we are on the eve of the baseball season. In a little over 24 hours the Yankees and Red Sox will dim the lights and raise the curtains on the 2010 MLB season. It’s on; the wait is over. It’s the best day of the sports year, if you ask me. It’s your number one vs. their number one.
As Al Bundy once said, “Let there be baseball. Let there be LIFE.”
Time to get yapping about the Yankees!
Yankees vs. the Future Yankees
Manager Joe Girardi said it best: “Either way, we can’t lose today!”
The Yankees started their regular players against a team of baby Bombers in the final spring training game this afternoon. It was quite interesting to see Derek Jeter and the boys play against some of the young guys who are just trying to start their baseball careers. Girardi took it easy on the youngsters and only played the regulars for the first three innings.
The Yanks beat the Future Yanks, 9-6.
To me it was a little strange how they divided up the team. Some of the non-Yankees played on the Yankee team. I guess that was just the way to get everyone in; not all of them could play on the future team and they wanted every player to get some work in.
It wasn’t too torturous for them–the Yankees only scored three runs on them in the bottom of the first! Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher knocked in a combined five runs on the future Yanks, hopefully just a prequel of what they do tomorrow vs. the Red Sox.
Jonathan Albaladejo started for the future Yanks against Javier Vazquez, who made his final start before the regular season. Vazquez turned in a decent performance, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Not bad for Vazquez, but he could do a little better next week when he faces the Rays.
Some of the future stars intrigued me. For one, Melky Mesa. I could not believe I saw another player with the name Melky. I thought there was only one Melky, and he now plays for the Braves! He didn’t have a hit today, but I just like his name.
Along with Mesa, Slade Heathcott grabbed my attention. He is ranked as the third-best Yankee prospect by Baseball America, and he showed some great speed today. In his first at-bat, he beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and he was safe!
I also was taken back by Pat Venditte–the “switch pitcher.” He pitched in the top of the eighth inning and he gave up a run. It was just so strange how he kept changing his pitching hand; he would throw to right-handers with his left hand and pitch to left-handers with his right hand. (Although I do think he threw to one right-hander with his right hand)
You have to see him pitch for yourself to really get a feel for what he is about. His arm angle when pitching with his left hand is much different than when he throws righty. He seems to sidearm the ball when he throws left and almost flings it. But as a right-hander he throws much more conventional and overhand.
Not to mention his mitt. Venditte fashioned an “ambidextrous glove” (I guess you could call it?) so that he can pitch with both hands. It’s quite a sight to behold and unbelievably fascinating.
I hope we see Venditte in the future, but I do think he has a lot of work to do before being called up. He’s not quite ready to pitch to real major leaguers yet, but if he keeps at it and can find ways to get hitters out with his unique pitching style, he’ll make the show.
Overall, it was a fun game to watch today and a cool way to end spring training.
The Opening Day Roster
Most of the decisions made regarding the opening day, 25-man roster the Yankees will use didn’t shock me. Of course all of the regulars will be there; Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez….yeah, you get the idea.
I’m glad to see David Robertson will be in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. But if you ask me, Royce Ring deserves to be there, too. For the type of spring he had and his past Major League service, he should at least be given a chance.
Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, and Joba Chamberlain will also be in the ‘pen. But mark my words, if one of these guys is not cutting it, Ring is the right guy to plug into the spot. I watched him this past month, and I have to say, he did some fine work in Tampa.
Marcus Thames did not have the best spring, only averaging somewhere around .135 at the plate. But he hit three homers this spring and showcased more power than Randy Winn. Both players made the team. We’ll see how each one does during the season, but one of them could be used as trade bait.
Lastly, Ramiro Pena made the team as the extra infielder. I think this is the best move, I like Pena, and I hope he has a great year in the big leagues. He will be an asset to the club and I have a good feeling about him.
We have the team set, now we just have to find the chemistry.
The Series vs. Boston
I guess the schedule-maker this year had a malicious sense of irony, pitting the Yanks against the hated Red Sox on opening night. The Bombers and BoSox will play tomorrow, have a day off on Monday, and then play the next two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As mentioned before, it’s our number one vs. their number one tomorrow, meaning CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. A lot of people are quick to mention Sabathia’s tendency to start slow and not put up his best work until later on in the season.
In fact, many of my friends have told me the Yankees will probably lose tomorrow night.
Keep in mind, whenever the Yankees play Boston in Fenway, they are not just facing the Red Sox. They are facing Red Sox Nation. It’s hard for any team to play there because the fans are just unbelievably rowdy. It’s hard to win there.
We’ll see what happens on Opening Night. Anything can happen. We might see Sabathia pick up right where he left off last season–dominating everyone he faces. He didn’t have the best spring, but those numbers do not mean much. We won’t find out until tomorrow.
Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett will make the start against Jon Lester. We’ll have to wait and see which Burnett will show up–Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, hopefully Jekyll.
When Lester is on, he is one of the most brilliant left-handed pitchers in the American League. Burnett has to bring his best stuff and the offense has to bring their best mindset to win Tuesday.
Ending the series on Wednesday, Andy Pettitte will start against the Red Sox’ big off-season acquisition, John Lackey. Pettitte has done so well against the Boston over the years and last year was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against Boston.
Lackey, although many people think he has the Yanks’ number, has not done well against the Yankees historically. Just last year in the ALCS, Lackey was 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts. Lifetime vs. New York, he is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA and at Fenway Park he is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA.
Not very pretty, Mr. Lackey.
But I’m looking past all that. On paper, the Yanks have an advantage. But on paper is not going to win the game. It all depends on who plays better on that day. That’s all there is to it.
Look at it this way: even if the Yankees do not get off to the best start this year, it’s not the end of the world. They started slow last year, even going 0-8 in the first eight games vs. Boston. It worked out for them in the end.
Enjoy Opening night everyone! And have a Happy Easter.
The other night (before my power went out due to the insane blizzard that has plagued the northeast over the last few days) I happened to stay awake and catch a Stephen King horror movie late at night. “Riding the Bullet” was the name of the movie I watched and I have to admit, it freaked me out.
As I was watching, I kept thinking to myself how big of a Red Sox fan King is. Although the movie was creepy and gave me nightmares, it was the brainchild of a Red Sox fanatic. Then I asked myself, how many celebrities are Yankee fans?
Needless to say, a whole bunch of people came to mind. I have rounded up five of the best and most recognizable celebrity Yankee fans. (Keep in mind they are in no particular order of significance) Here they are:
5) Adam Sandler
He is probably the most proud celebrity Yankee fan there is. Actor/writer/producer Adam Sandler has starred in some of the best comedy movies. My personal favorites are “Big Daddy,” “Billy Madison,” and “Happy Gilmore.” All three of those films are cult classics and I recommend everyone watch them.
Sandler is such a devoted Yankee fan that he even incorporated the team into some of his films. In “Anger Management,” a film where Sandler’s character Dave Buznik is forced to undergo (you guessed it) anger management classes, the whole ending practically revolves around the Yankees.
Trying to propose to his fiancée Linda (Marisa Tomei) at a Yankee game, Buznik runs onto the field at Yankee Stadium. He bolts onto the field and just as he is about to give his monologue, Roger Clemens appears on screen and says, “Is this clown almost done? My arm is starting to ice over.”
Derek Jeter comes on and responds, “Chill Rocket. Goosfraba.” The term Goosfraba (according to the movie) is an expression Eskimos use to calm themselves down.
Don’t ask. Please.
Right as Buznik is about to kiss the girl, in a loud cry he proclaims, “GO YANKEES!”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Along with “Anger Management,” Sandler dropped another Yankee bomb in his movie “50 First Dates.” Now, granted the movie had a terrible premise–having to fall in love with the same girl day after day because of her severe memory problem–there was a scene that stands out in my mind as probably the best in the movie.
Sandler’s character Henry Roth decides to make a video tape of everything his love interest Lucy (Drew Barrymore) missed in the last year because she can’t remember anything. The movie came out in early 2004, right on the heels of the Yankees’ dramatic win over the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.
Lucy’s video showed a clip of the Red Sox celebrating and a caption appeared that read, “Red Sox win World Series.” Then the glorious Aaron Boone home run clip played and another caption came up that read:
“Just kidding.” What a great way to stick it to the Red Sox fans!
Being the type of diehard fan he is, Sandler is sometimes seen in the crowd at Yankee Stadium. In fact, when Joba Chamberlain made his first career start, Sandler was seen on TV at the game. I guess he figured it would be historic, but unfortunately the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 9-3 and Chamberlain only tossed 62 pitches over 2 2/3 innings.
Come to think of it, when they showed him on TV, he was leaving the game in the seventh inning.
I hope Sandler includes the Yankees in some of his upcoming work, but first I hope he can finally start making funny movies again. Although I love him, Sandler has been making lackluster and rather dull movies for the last three or four years now. He should make a whole movie dedicated to the Yankees.
Now that’d be a movie worth seeing!
4) Spike Lee
Actor/director Spike Lee has been a longtime faithful follower of the Yankees.
Like Sandler, he has included the Yankees in his work. Lee directed the 1999 movie “The Summer of Sam,” which takes place in 1977 and revolves around the Son of Sam murders. All of the characters live in New York City and are Yankee fans.
The way Lee worked the Yanks into the story was quite clever. The murderer was known as the “Son of Sam” but also developed the nickname the .44 caliber killer, being that he used a .44 caliber handgun on his victims. The characters in the movie suspected Reggie Jackson as the murderer, being that he wore the uniform number 44.
In another scene towards the end, two men in the movie beat the living snot out of another character, simply because he admitted to being a Red Sox fan.
I haven’t seen many more of Lee’s movies, except for “Do the Right Thing,” which, if you ask me, was a great and meaningful movie. It deals with a ton of social issues and racial tension. In fact, I studied the film in my understanding movies class last year because it makes so many cultural references.
Lee not only directed “Do the Right Thing” in 1989, but he also starred in it playing the main character Mookie, a young black man working for Italian-Americans at a pizza shop.
I think Lee meant for there to be significance having Mookie wear a Jackie Robinson jersey for the duration of the film. Although Robinson was not a Yankee, the jersey symbolized where Mookie came from and his background. Robinson had to fight to gain respect and was basically caught in the middle of the racial tension his whole career.
Mookie was the same way–caught in between and needing to find middle ground.
Always a man with a sharp mind, Lee also helped develop a unique Yankee hat with New Era. It is basically the same hat the players wear on the field, only with pennants representing every year the Yankees have won the World Series covering the top and sides.
I have to admit, the hat is very nice. I may eventually have to get one sometime.
At the World Series this year, I noticed Lee was wearing the same Yankee jacket I have. It was the most interesting thing (to me) because I honestly thought I was the only one who had that jacket–up until I saw him wearing it on TV, I had never seen anyone else with it on.
“Spike Lee’s wearing my jacket!” That was all I could say when I saw it.
A great Yankee supporter and a devoted fan, I salute you Mr. Lee. Keep on doing the right thing–rooting for the Bombers!
3) Paul Simon
Being one half of the great singer/songwriter duo “Simon and Garfunkel,” Paul Simon is a legendary Yankee fan. He is known for his powerful voice and unparalleled songwriting skills but when I think of Simon, I think of the Yankees.
I’d first like to mention that I had the pleasure of meeting Simon’s partner Art Garfunkel a few years back at a concert I helped work at. He was very nice and he sang some of the all-time best songs: “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Sounds of Silence,” and “Mrs. Robinson.”
After the concert, I talked to Garfunkel and told him what a wonderful job he did on “Mrs. Robinson,” it being my favorite song of theirs. He thanked me and said only one other thing:
“It would have been better if Paul Simon was here.”
Speaking of “Mrs. Robinson,” many people are familiar with the lyrics:
“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away. Hey hey hey…Hey hey hey.”
Simon originally wanted to use Mickey Mantle instead of DiMaggio in the lyrics, but it was a matter of syllables. “Mick-ey Man-tle” only has four syllables while “Joe Di-Magg-io” has five, so he needed to use the Yankee Clipper.
Believe it or not, DiMaggio did not like the lyric and somewhat took offense to it, responding by saying “What do you mean where have I gone? I am right here!”
DiMaggio eventually dropped his complaint after taking a meeting with Simon. The songwriter explained to Joltin’ Joe that the lyric was a tribute to him. Back then, the heroes were becoming so pretentious and pop culture distorted how the American public perceive our role models, so Simon kindly told DiMaggio that there was nothing hurtful meant by the lyric.
Now understanding what Simon meant, DiMaggio accepted the lyric as a tribute.
Furthermore, when DiMaggio passed away in 1999, Simon performed “Mrs. Robinson” in centerfield (the position DiMaggio played) at Yankee Stadium. A somber capacity crowd wildly cheered for the lyric.
And here’s to you, Mr. Simon. You really are a Yankee fan for sure!
2) Jack Nicholson
“You want the Yankees? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE YANKEES!”
Jack Nicholson is one of the most famous actors in American movie history, starring in classics such as “The Shining,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “A Few Good Men,” (see the modified quote above) and my personal favorite, “Batman.”
Yes, he was the Joker before Heath Ledger.
One of the other movies Nicholson starred in was “Anger Management” (opposite Adam Sandler) and his Yankee pride was on full display. He wore his Yankee cap with a regular shirt and blazer, much like he does when he attends the games at Yankee Stadium.
Nicholson likes to do it classy.
In September of 2006 his Yankee faith was put to the test. For his role in “The Departed,” Nicholson was asked to wear a Red Sox hat. He was playing the part of a gangster in Boston and the director wanted him to wear the cap with the evil “B” on the front.
Ever the loyalist, Nicholson refused to wear the Boston hat in the scene and better yet, wore a Yankee hat for it. That is loyalty and faith, in my view. His boss told him to wear a Red Sox hat and he basically said, “No. I am a Yankee through and through.”
For his love for the Yankees, he made the list. Good work Mr. Nicholson. You are a film legend and a devout follower of the Yankees. Good man!
1) Billy Crystal
He is the only person on the list that is not only a devout Yankee fan, has made a movie about the Yankees, but has actually been on the team for one game.
On March 13, 2008, the comedian/actor/director signed a one-game contract to play for the Yankees in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Crystal only had one at-bat and he struck out swinging. He did however make contact, fouling off a pitch in the sequence before fanning.
I’d say he did well and it was such a neat thing to see. Crystal took part in the Yankees’ tune-up game as birthday wish; he had always wanted to play for the Yankees and on his 60th birthday he lived his dream (He also wore the uniform number 60 in accordance to his age)
But he was technically a member of the Yanks, even if it was only one at-bat.
If playing for the Yankees was not enough, Crystal directed “61*” in 2001, an HBO movie about the 1961 home run race between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
For those who have seen the movie, I think the most compelling scene in the film is the part when the Yankees are playing the Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore. What some people may not realize is that game was the 154th game the Yanks played in the ’61 season.
If Maris had not reached 60 home runs by that game, the media and Major League Baseball did not consider him the true Home Run King because Babe Ruth hit 60 homers in 154 games. 1961 was the first year MLB played 162 games like they do today.
Maris had 59 home runs by the end of that game, meaning that if he had broken the record in 162 games, it would be “a separate record,” according to MLB commissioner Ford Frick. Obviously Maris broke it after 154 games, so the record technically was not his until Faye Vincent (the MLB commissioner in 1991) did away with the “two separate home run records.”
Unfortunately Maris passed six years before Vincent abolished the separate records and he never knew the home run record was his. But I think in most peoples’ minds, he was the true king and deep down in his heart, I’m sure Maris knew it too.
Crystal did such a wonderful job with “61*” My only hope now is that he makes another movie based off the Yankees. I feel he could certainly pull it off the way he did with “61*” but I think he would need a hot topic. After all, the 1961 Yankee season was one of the most revered campaigns in all of baseball history.
If you ask me, Crystal is one of a kind. A funny guy and a true Yankee man.
On a side note: I may have lost power for awhile because of this awful blizzard, but that did not stop me from playing in the snow like a five year-old and building a snowman.
Hope you all enjoy the picture.
Nice jacket, right Spike Lee?….
With the holidays right around the corner and final exams killing me, I decided to take a timeout and do some thinking. After all, the holidays are always a time of reflection.
So yesterday I was doing some contemplating…what would happen if I tried to convert to being a fan of another team? I mean, is it even possible?
I tried to imagine what would happen if I came out and told everyone I was a Red Sox fan and have denounced the Yankees; that everything about the Yankees is evil, they are a horrible bunch of cheaters, and I have left the Empire for the Nation.
Then I thought how that would go over. Yeah, not very well.
There could be severe consequences if I told people I have become a Red Sox fan. Instead of ranting on forever about them, I’ll list them.
1) If I were to become a Red Sox fan, I might lose all my friends.
It might be the truth. Nearly all of my best friends are Yankee fans. I cannot imagine going over to a friend’s house to watch a Yankees/Red Sox game and trying to cheer Boston. That would be the end of me. I would probably get thrown out before anything even happens, since basically all my friends bleed pinstripes.
But would some of my best, diehard Yankee friends remain friends with me, even if I changed my favorite team?…
Not exactly sure, but just in case I should stick to the Yanks.
2) If I were to become a Red Sox fan, my family would most likely disown me.
I was born a Yankee fan. My family will not let me die a Red Sox fan. My family brought me up with Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, and Mariano Rivera. Not players like Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz. If I turned around and became a Red Sox fan, my family would exile me.
Unless I want to find a new family, I must remain a Yankee fan.
3) Location and Ability to Watch My Favorite
I live in New York. I was born in New York. I know that there are plenty of BoSox fans here in the Empire State, but the Yankee fans, by far, outnumber the Red Sox fans (just as I’m sure in New England, the Red Sox fans outnumber the Yankee fans) Life would not be easy as a sports fan if I made the conversion.
Not only that, but I would have to drive 207 miles just to see my team play at home. I mean, I suppose I could always risk my life and go to Yankee Stadium wearing a David Ortiz jersey, but I value my well-being. I want to live for as long as I can, not have my existence on this planet end in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium.
Unless I want to make a long trip to see my team play a home game or risk my life at Yankee Stadium, I must stay in Yankee colors.
I have spent a good chunk of my life collecting Yankee paraphernalia. I have souvenirs like you would not believe; I’m talking jerseys, hats, shirts, sweatshirts, bed sheets, pennants, framed pictures, paintings, even a Yankee hamper where I keep my dirty cloths (no lie) and one of my favorites, a retro, holographic lunchbox.
It has taken me basically my whole life to amass all this Yankee stuff. I would have to put this entire memorabilia collection up on EBAY or something, and then exchange it for Red Sox stuff.
Unless I want to go through that, I must remain in pinstripes.
After wondering for so long what everyone around me would say and think about me converting to Red Sox Nation, I found out. I conducted my own little sociological experiment to find out what people would think of me if I swapped allegiances from the Yanks to the Sox.
Here’s how I went about it:
I updated my Facebook status to: A.J. Martelli is denouncing the Yankees and becoming a Red Sox fan. Josh Beckett > CC Sabathia and Kevin Youkilis > Derek Jeter. Boston, For The Win!
In literally seconds, my status was flooded with comments.
“What are you smoking? Are you high, because I know you don’t drink? Should I break out the ice skates? Is hell about to freeze over? Did you lose a bet? Oh my God, it’s Armageddon, or it least it will be when A.J. sees what someone did to his status! This is not really A.J., somebody hacked into his Facebook account. Poor kid. He lost his mind.”
These were all comments left by my friends as a result of my “conversion” to the Red Sox. The reactions were basically what I expected; shock, confusion, and in most cases disbelief.
Maybe the best line was left by my good friend Keith, who said, “I lost control of my bowels. I hope you have the money to pay for my medical bills. I am so sad.”
It seems I shocked the world.
I texted one of my best friends, Brian, and told him “Screw the Yankees, I’m a Red Sox fan now.” He really didn’t believe me at first, but after I attempted to sell it, he said “alright, have fun with the Sox.” I eventually came clean and explained myself. He responded with, “I knew you’d NEVER hate the Bombers!”
He is right, I never would. He knows me all to well and never really believed me in the first place. That’s the sign of a best friend.
Neither did one of my other best friends, Dave. I also texted him and told him of my “hatred for the Yankees and new allegiance to the Red Sox.”
His first response was, “did your phone get hijacked?” Again, I tried to sell it and explained of my “newfound affinity for the Red Sox.” He thought I changed teams because of John Lackey, who just yesterday was acquired by the Red Sox. He told me if I was serious about changing teams, to call him and explain.
I once again told the truth and told him of my experiment. He laughed, but admitted I legitimately scared him. I asked him if he would still be my friend if I really became a Boston fan. He was the first one to say he would stay friends with me despite becoming a fan of the Red Sox.
He only said it would take some getting used to, but always be my friend. I’ve known Dave since kindergarten and apparently baseball will never change our brotherhood.
So after texting for some answers for awhile I decided to come clean on Facebook.
I once again changed my status. “To update everyone, I am NOT becoming a Red Sox fan. I was conducting an experiment for a blog. I wanted to gauge people’s reactions if I came out & said I was a Boston fan. But here’s a question, Yankee fans: if I did become a Red Sox fan, would you still be my friend?”
Once again, comments began to fill up my page.
An old friend of mine, Rick, from my Little League team (we played on the Little League Yankees, by the way!) told me he almost puked at the first status. Two of my cousins, Krystina and Kevin, both said they would disown me. That cleared up any doubt as to whether or not my family would still accept me.
Then I read some reaction from some of my college friends. My good friend Kevin Lewis, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting just this semester, told me he would not remain my friend. “Come on, A.J., we can’t stand Sox fans!”
Kevin proceeded to tell me if I really did convert to Red Soxism, he would “Chris Brown” me. If you are unaware, Chris Brown viciously beat the snot out of his girlfriend Rihanna, landing himself in jail for his cowardly actions.
I guess that answers my question in terms of valuing my life; I really would get beat up for becoming a Red Sox fan!
Going back to texting, I texted one of my other best friends whom I have known since sixth grade. My great buddy Vito received a text from me that read, “I am sorry, Vito…I am officially a member of Red Sox Nation!!!”
He responded with, “I can’t let you do that!!!!! (Expletive) Lackey!” Like Dave, Vito thought I converted because of John Lackey. For the record, I think Lackey is overrated is not even worth changing teams for. I guess the Lackey reason became a pattern?
With the same routine, I tried to push the fallacy as far as I could before coming clean. Wise beyond his years, Vito said, “Liking the Red Sox is like watching porn for the acting–it doesn’t make sense.”
And after laughing for 10 minutes after that comment, I asked him if he would still be my friend. He said he would and I came out with the truth. Tallied up, that’s two people who said they would stay friends with me if I became a Red Sox fan.
Checking Facebook once more, another friend of mine from college, Katie, gave an interesting point of view. She said she couldn’t imagine me forsaking my bond with the Yankees, who I have such an alliance to in my life. She said the fact that I would renege on my bond with the Yankees would bother her more than which team I switched to.
I thought that her position was very insightful; she understands how much the Yankees mean to me and the fact that I would go against them all of a sudden would be more shocking than whatever team I decided to turn to. Her answer was probably the most logical answer I received from the whole experiment.
Then I reached out to Jessica, another friend who is a diehard Yankee lover. I asked her what she would do if I became a Red Sox fan. Her response: “I’d never speak to you again…deal?” So there’s at least one friend I’d lose if I made the conversion.
Next I heard from a devout Yankee fan, my friend Micheal from Atlanta. I told him that the Yankees ruin baseball and of my “conversion to the Nation.” Then I asked him if he would still be my friend. His answer: “No. Ha ha ha.” I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me in the first place.
But after reading the next comment I’m not totally convinced I wouldn’t actually lose any friends, whatsoever.
My friend Jenn, who is Brian’s girlfriend, told me, “Anyone who says they wouldn’t be your friend is probably just kidding. I mean, it’s just a sports team for Heaven’s sake!” Her insight put my mind at ease a little bit; at least I know I wouldn’t be losing her.
I have to say, this was something I had a lot of fun doing. I suppose it was a way to find out what people would say and do if I turned my back on my favorite team. It made for some great insight and funny commentary from my friends, who only know me as a follower of Yankeeism. All the reaction among them was exactly what I had anticipated, some even went beyond it.
When they thought someone hacked into my Facebook account–I’ll admit, I didn’t expect that one. But most of the other responses were basically exactly what I knew they would be. I would say disbelief was the most common; there were some people I don’t think I fooled for one second, they knew I was full of it.
But for the record, I’m staying right here with the Yankees. Thanks to all who participated in this experiment. I wanted to draw colorful reactions and you all did not disappoint. You gave me precisely what I needed.
*This blog will remain Yankee Yapping. Not Red Sox Yapping. Oooh. I didn’t like the sound of that…
Red Sox Yapping…YANKEE YAPPING!!!
“I will not take my love from Him, nor will I betray my faithfulness.”–Psalm 89:33
Greetings Yankee fans! And welcome to the 13th edition of Yankee Yapping.
Well….start spreading the news. We’re leaving today….for October!
If October Gonzalez still blogs here on MLB.com, he needs to get ready to do some…Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!!
My thoughts on…
The AL East Title
As everyone in the world already knows, yesterday the Bronx Bombers clinched the American League East title with a victory over the Red Sox, completing a weekend sweep of their arch-rivals. It marked the first time since 2006 the Yanks have won the AL East and the first time since 2005 they won the title in front of the Red Sox.
In ’05 the Yankees won the crown on the second-to-last day of the season at Fenway Park.
The Yankees also won their 100th game of the season, and that marked the first time since 2004 the Yanks accomplished that feat. And oh, by the way, they have home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
The Yanks pretty much made out like bandits Sunday afternoon.
I have to admit I almost broke down and cried. I was so overjoyed when they won yesterday. Considering the Yanks missed the playoffs last year and remembering how sad I was on the last day of the 2008 regular season, yesterday was pretty special.
I liked the analogy Derek Jeter used when speaking of the Yankees early winter last year. “It’s almost like you’re a kid and your parents don’t let you go outside and play,” Jeter analogized.
“You’re watching everybody outside the window because you’re in trouble. That’s what it felt like. Now you’re off punishment and you can go back outside.”
The last day of the regular season is always melancholy; it means the summer is truly over. As a diehard baseball fan, I wish the season could last forever.
It doesn’t, but at least with your team in the playoffs, you are guaranteed a shot at the World Title and a chance to see your team try and give you a memory that can last a lifetime.
When your team wins it all, you will remember it forever.
But the AL East is only one step toward what the Yankees and we the fans are looking forward to. It was nice to celebrate yesterday, but we are going back to work this week vs. the Royals and this weekend against the Rays.
I’m sure the Yankees were proud of themselves, which they should be, but I’ll bet if you ask Jeter or Mariano Rivera, or any of the other players, they’ll say that there’s a lot more work to be done.
Which is certainly true. The Yankees have accomplished something good. And now they must continue to move forward and hopefully reach “baseball nirvana.”
Weekend Sweep of Boston
After the Yankees went 0-8 against Boston at the beginning of the season, I never would of thought they’d rebound as nicely as they have.
The Yankees have won nine out of their last 10 games against the Red Sox and the way they played them this past weekend gave me even more confidence in the Yankees’ ability to beat Boston if they happen to meet in the ALCS this year.
The last time the two teams squared off in the 2004 ALCS….well, we need not relive that. But at least the Bombers have demonstrated the ability to match the Red Sox punch-for-punch, which is what they need this late in the season.
In this weekend’s three-game sweep, the Yanks outscored Boston 16-7. Back in August when the Yankees swept the Red Sox at home, they outscored them 25-8. So it’s apparent that the Yankees know how to drive runners in against the Red Sox, a good ability to have against a potential playoff opponent.
On Friday I was thrilled to see Joba Chamberlain pitching well and the Yanks won, 9-5. He tossed six innings and gave up three runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. He got the win and ironically his last win before Friday came against the Red Sox on Aug. 6.
You see guys: when you let Chamberlain pitch without worrying about his innings limit, he can actually perform well!
However, I did feel sympathy for Jon Lester, getting drilled with a liner off the knee on a ball crushed by Melky Cabrera. I don’t like the Red Sox (obviously) but I have a lot of respect for Lester. He is such a great success story, coming back from cancer and throwing a no-hitter. So yes, I felt bad for him.
Lester had to leave the game in the third inning, but he wasn’t pitching effectively, anyway. He had given up a homer to Alex Rodriguez and was losing before he got hit, so I don’t think he would’ve been in the game much longer, as it was.
Lester was charged with five earned runs and registered the loss.
Saturday looked like a classic pitcher’s duel; Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Red Sox and CC Sabathia for the Yankees.
The “Dice-Man” hasn’t really had much success against the Yankees (going into Saturday he was 3-2 with a 6.35 ERA lifetime vs. New York) but he still put up a good game. Well, I don’t know if I should say “good;” the Yankees left a lot of men on base and just didn’t capitalize. They could have had some big innings, but just didn’t score.
And Sabathia was Sabathia, of course. He fanned eight BoSox over the seven innings he pitched and didn’t give up any runs. In fact, he was tossing a no-hitter up until Mike Lowell broke it up in the fifth with a line drive to centerfield.
Sabathia no-hit the Red Sox through 5 2/3 on Aug. 8 until Jacoby Ellsbury broke it up. I find that so fascinating; Sabathia carried a no-hitter into the middle-to-late innings twice against the Red Sox this year. I don’t know of any other pitcher in recent history who’s done that.
The Red Sox looked lost; I mean, they only had three runners in scoring position all day and they went 0-for-3. Boston also only had two hits all day. That’s containment, if you ask me.
Robinson Cano broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with his 24th homer of the year. It’s funny; I never really thought Cano would generate that type of power. He has made me look at him totally different. When he comes up to bat, I’m thinking, “We may have a shot at a homer here.” What an awesome year he’s had.
Saturday’s final: Yankees 3, Boston 0. Good enough for me.
And Sunday was the finale. Andy Pettitte was the man the Yanks sent to the hill to claim their AL East title and he completed their mission. The veteran lefty went six innings and gave up two runs for a quality start en route to the Yanks’ 4-2 win over Boston.
The champagne celebration followed the final out.
Cabrera and Mark Teixeira each homered while Hideki Matsui put the Yankees ahead in the sixth with a two-run single.
Here’s something I should point out: Derek Jeter led off the game with a single. That marked the 51st time this year the captain has led off the game with a base hit. I think the strategy of Jeter as the leadoff hitter has paid off in a big way and it could be something that is showcased in the playoffs.
Overall, it was a great weekend to be a Yankee and a Yankee fan. And that’s probably the biggest understatement of this century.
Chances in the Post-Season
The Yankees have made it to the post-season for the first time since 2007. But recent playoff memories for Yankees fans are…well….not fond ones.
The Bombers have not won a World Series since 2000. They haven’t played in the World Series since 2003. And they haven’t made it past the American League Division Series since 2004.
But here are a few reasons I think the Yankees’ chances are better than ever in 2009.
The one thing the Yankees accomplished in the off-season was the acquisition of starting pitching. I mean, let’s face it–these last few playoff appearances, the Yanks just didn’t have any effective pitching.
Not knocking Mike Mussina–he did some great things in the post-season. I can’t thank him enough for getting out of that bases loaded, one out jam in game seven of the 2003 ALCS (fans might remember it as the “Aaron Boone Game”)
Mussina came into the game in an extremely pressurized situation–really the weight of the game was on his shoulders. He thankfully got Johnny Damon to bounce into a double play to avoid any further trouble.
I just feel bad Mussina never got a ring. He always called himself “Mr. Almost.” Meaning that he almost got a World Series ring, almost won a Cy Young, and almost had a perfect game (Sept. 2, 2001 at the Red Sox. Carl Everett broke it up with two outs in the ninth with a bloop single to left field)
For as good as “Moose” was, he was never an overwhelming power-pitcher; he was more of a smart, mental pitcher. His strength relied primarily on his knuckle-curve ball and his fast ball was not a live as some of the Yankees’ starters today.
Case in point: CC Sabathia, who is 19-7 this season with a 3.21 ERA. Now a lot of people might be quick to judge Sabathia’s playoff numbers, which aren’t pretty–he’s 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA lifetime in the playoffs for the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers (that includes two losses to Boston in the 2007 ALCS)
But I’m really willing to look past that right now.
Last year Sabathia was pitching a lot on short rest, something that will probably not be done this year. He has been dominant vs. Boston this year, so I’m not concerned with who he faces. It’s not only Boston; save for just getting himself acclimated to New York and struggling a little bit in the beginning of the season, he’s been dominant against every team he has faced.
I have a feeling the ace will be performing and dealing, just like he’s been all year. Sabathia has given the Yankees quality and quantity all season, so I’m not really expecting that to change just because it’s playoff time.
I would also take a guy like A.J. Burnett over a pitcher like Randy Johnson.
Now granted Burnett has not had the easiest season, posting a record of 12-9 with a 4.19 ERA, he has still been a force in the rotation. I would rather have a pitcher like Burnett who is in his prime than the older Johnson who was past his prime when he pitched for the Yankees.
When Burnett is on, he can be one of the best pitchers there is. A lot of people have compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, meaning he is either really good or really bad when he pitches. I cannot say it enough; we need the “Mr. A.J. Burnett-Hyde” to show up in the playoffs.
He’s had some rough starts versus Boston, but also matched Josh Beckett pitch-for-pitch on Aug. 7. Not to mention, he went undefeated in July, going 4-0 with the Yanks winning all five games he started. And his last start–when he beat the Angels—gave me some peace of mind.
There’s also been talk as to which game Burnett will start: game two or three of the ALDS. If he starts game two, he’d be pitching at home where his ERA is 3.65 (lower than the 4.73 ERA he has posted on the road)
Ideally it would make sense to start a lefty, a righty, and then a lefty again, which would mean Burnett starts game two. Manager Joe Girardi has not yet revealed what his post-season rotation will be.
Johnson posted a record of 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in two playoff starts with the Yankees. I think Burnett can do a little better than that.
And lastly there’s Andy Pettitte, who has been a rock for the Yankees in October. In the LDS, he own a career record of 5-3 with a 3.92 ERA (which includes his 2005 appearance with the Houston Astros)
I remember he was really the only starter who kept the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS vs. the Indians. He started game two in Cleveland and was just incredible. He tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up no runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out five.
I expect the usual out of Pettitte, who claimed his 14th victory of the year in the Yankees’ AL East-clinching win on Sunday.
The pitching is just there, which it hasn’t been these past few years.
The Yankee bullpen has been so valuable to the team’s success. In the AL East-post game celebration, many people mentioned the bullpen in terms of the Yankees’ ability to win games.
Consider Alfredo Aceves, a middle reliever with 10 wins. In games where the Yankees looked like they were out of it, Aceves would come in and just get hitters out.
No, his fastball isn’t terribly overwhelming, but he’s demonstrated the ability to fool a lot of hitters with his breaking ball and he has found ways to make big outs.
On July 5 vs. Toronto, Aceves came on in relief of Joba Chamberlain, and tossed four innings of one-hit ball. He struck out five batters and didn’t allow a walk. That was when I thought to myself, “This guy might take us a long way.”
He certainly has.
Then there’s Phil Hughes, who is just virtually un-hittable.
He has cemented his spot as the Yankees’ eighth inning setup man and like I said in Edition 10, he has carved a niche for himself in the ‘pen. He started seven games this year with things not going so well for him, but he was sent to the bullpen and everything went right.
Everything from Hughes’s velocity to his win-loss record improved when he made the transition from the rotation to the bullpen.
In a close game, I fear for the opposing teams. Take Saturday, for instance. The Yankees were up by one run in the top of the eighth. Hughes came in and just shut down the Red Sox, allowing no runs and fanning two for his 18th hold of the year.
Hughes has also only allowed 65 hits in the 84 1/3 innings he has pitched this season. Obviously that is way less than a hit per inning, so the Yankees can feel at ease knowing they have Hughes out there. He keeps the opposition off base.
Oh yeah, and the Yankees have Mariano Rivera.
In the ALDS alone, Rivera is 2-0 with 15 saves and 35 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings pitched. If that doesn’t say lights out, I’m not really sure what does.
This year, Rivera has 44 saves (at press time) and he’s only blown two.
The confidence in the bullpen is existent and if the Yankees are in a close-game situation, they will be in good shape with their bullpen in the state it is in now.
3) Addition by Subtraction
The Yankees got rid of some players and added other players prior to this year and to this point, it’s looking like they made the right moves.
I think what some people sometimes overlook is Jason Giambi’s two home runs in game seven of the 2003 ALCS (once again, “the Aaron Boone Game”) but other than that, he wasn’t a force in the playoffs the way Tino Martinez was.
Martinez had a rough time in the 1996 playoffs, but he basically exorcised his demons in 1998, putting up great numbers and even hitting a grand slam home run in game one of the World Series. Giambi never did that.
He was good in 2003 but was rendered basically useless when the Red Sox came back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees in 2004. I think the subtraction of Giambi was good move.
And along with the subtraction of Giambi came the addition to Mark Teixeira, who has fit in so well in 2009. Not only is he a gold glove caliber first baseman (something Giambi never was) but Teixeira is posting mind-boggling numbers and is an MVP candidate.
He is doing so many things to help the Yankees win this year and his performance could be one of the deciding factors in the playoffs.
It took a little while for Teixeira to settle in, but when Alex Rodriguez came back, he was all systems go. Since Rodriguez’s return on May 8, Teixeira is batting .311 with 32 home runs and owns a .596 slugging percentage.
They protect each other in the lineup, another positive factor that works in the Yankees’ favor and something they never really had these past few years.
The Yankees also possess speed in a guy like Brett Gardner, something they never really had in playoffs past. In a close game situation when the Yankees need a stolen base, they basically have the Flash on the bench, ready to run for them.
They have never had speed like Gardner on the bench (not to mention Gardner is pretty good on defense and not a shabby hitter, either) and once again, it’s something that could decide a playoff game.
If you add players like Teixeira and Gardner (while subtracting them from Giambi and even other useless players, like Carl Pavano and Bubba Crosby…and Gary Sheffield…and…well, this list could go on and on) to the other hitters who have just had great seasons, like Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, and Nick Swisher, the Yankee lineup in going to be awfully tough to pitch to in the playoffs.
The Yanks made themselves so much better by adding the right pieces to the puzzle while dumping the liabilities.
Well, on behalf of the fans, I’d like to say Congratulations to the 2009 New York Yankees. The AL East Title is yours, but we have more work to do.
I will be back next week with the final regular season edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll hand out my end-of-season awards and offer more post-season analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Greetings Yankee Fans!
And welcome to the sixth installment of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
In the last edition of the blog I said the Yankees had the potential to be 6 and ½ games in front of the Red Sox after this past weekend. Little did I know that would be the case and that the Yankees would meet that potential. I thought for sure the Yankees and Red Sox might split the series, simply by looking at the pitching match-ups.
But that wasn’t what happened.
It was a great weekend to be a Yankee fan as the Bronx Bombers were all over the Red Sox, sweeping them right out of Yankee Stadium. It was the first time since 1985 the Yankees swept the Red Sox in four games at home.
If you don’t think the Yankees were playing at their best, consider the numbers: The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 25-8 this past weekend. The Yankees averaged .299 at the plate while the Red Sox batted .174. The Yankees left the yard nine times while Boston only did so three times.
And it wasn’t just the hitting.
New York out-pitched Boston, posting an ERA of 1.71 this past weekend. Boston’s ERA was 5.82. Not only did New York have that stat over Boston, but the Yankee pitching kept the Red Sox off the board for 31 and 1/3 consecutive innings.
The Yanks had not kept Boston’s bats that quiet since 1952, and it was the longest streak of scoreless innings by the Red Sox since 1974.
Derek Jeter said after the game that the pitching for the Yanks has just been unbelievable. “I can’t say enough good about them,” were the words he used when speaking to the media.
If you look at each game individually, you can see just how great the Yankees were playing. They outdid the Red Sox in every facet of the game; hitting with runners in scoring position, pitching, defense–the Yankees had it all going for them this past weekend.
Coming into this series the Yanks were playing well and Boston wasn’t. The Yanks had just swept Toronto while Boston had just been swept by Tampa Bay, so while the Yankees were riding a winning streak into the series, Boston was coming off a few poor games.
It’s safe to say that in New England right now it must be like a funeral while here in New York everyone is all smiles.
Not only did Boston get swept by their most hated rivals, they fell to 6 and ½ games out of first place in the AL East Division and are now tied with the Texas Rangers for the lead in the AL Wild Card.
Overall it was not a great weekend to be a Boston Red Sox fan.
When the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett, most Yankee fans were somewhat skeptical. He has a history of being injured, and he had Tommy John surgery early in his career.
But I was happy when he signed, and not just because he and I share the same initials (well…sure, that was part of it). But the way he pitched against the Yankees in 2008 was the reason why I was thrilled.
We couldn’t beat him, so we joined him.
A free agent at the end of last year, Burnett signed for five years and $82.5 million. So far he’s earning it.
I think the best term that can be used to describe Burnett is clutch. He has been the Yankees best clutch pitcher this year and probably the most consistent. He may not lead the team with wins (he is second with 10 while CC Sabathia has 12) but if you look at performance, he’s been better than anyone else on the staff.
When he out-dueled his former teammate Josh Beckett on Friday night (a game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off two-run home run by Alex Rodriguez) that was when I thought “clutch” to myself. He went out there and went head-to-head with Beckett (who currently leads the majors in wins with 13) and matched him pitch-for-pitch.
Burnett went 7 and 2/3 vs. Boston, giving up no runs on just one hit. He walked six and struck out six
Not trying to knock any of the rest of the pitchers on the Yankees’ staff, because all of them have been excellent–they proved that this weekend. But Burnett has been the best of the Yankee pitchers all year.
In his last 10 games, Burnett is 6-2 with two no-decisions. Both no-decisions were games the Yankees won, and he’s racked up 57 of his 123 total strikeouts over those 10 games.
If he continues to pitch the way he has been going down the stretch, the Yankees are in for a good run and most likely in good shape for October.
At press time Burnett boasts a 10-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His next scheduled start is Wednesday afternoon at home against his former team, the Blue Jays.
Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira
I really didn’t get Joe Girardi’s reasoning for switching Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the batting order this year, but now I’m starting to see why it was a good move.
The strategy of Jeter hitting lead-off and Damon batting in front of Mark Teixeira seems to be paying off. Damon and Teixeira compliment each other well in the lineup, and the numbers indicate that statement.
In last night’s thrilling 5-2 win over Boston, Damon and Teixeira hit back-to-back home runs for the sixth time this season. That sets a franchise record for back-to-back home runs, and the terrific tandem beat out a very elite group of Yankee players.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went back-to-back five times in 1927, and Gehrig later did it again with Joe DiMaggio in 1936. Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez also matched the total of five in 2005 while Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris went back-to-back four times in the 1961 season.
Teixeira actually didn’t realize he and Damon had set the record until Damon told him, and both players were excited about what they have been able to do this year.
“Me and Johnny hit strikes,” Teixeira told the press about his round-tripper last night.
“He told me we have the record, and it’s unbelievable.”
While Teixeira is leading the American League in home runs with 29, Damon is tearing the cover off the ball. He has 21 homers with 65 RBIs and is batting .281. Six of those 21 long balls have come against the Red Sox.
Simply looking at his last 10 games, Damon is 15-for-46 with four homers, eight RBIs, and eight runs scored. In the final year of his contract, he is putting together a season that can earn him more time with the Yankees.
I predicted Damon to hit 26 homers this year. He might even hit more than that, the way he’s been playing.
As for Teixeira, he’ll certainly be in the MVP discussion. He is proving he can play in New York and play big time.
Hopefully these two will provide more exciting moments for the Yankee fans, and they have a chance to put their back-to-back home runs record so far out of reach that no other tandem of players will be able to touch it.
The 2009 Season to This Point
I don’t think anyone really expected the Yankees to be in this position right now.
With the Tampa Bay Rays coming off their AL Pennant-winning season and the Red Sox making additions to their club, I think a lot of baseball fans expected the Yanks to flop again this year.
But look at what they’ve done. They struggled early on, playing without Alex Rodriguez and with a pitching staff that had yet to be acclimated to the new Yankee Stadium and the madness of the Bronx. But they just kept on battling and willing themselves all the way up to first place where they are now.
If you look at the last time the Yanks made the playoffs in 2007, it was (for the most part) one player’s responsibility. Rodriguez basically said, “Get on my back, guys. I’ll carry us.” And he did. Without Rodriguez in 2007, the Yankees would have been nowhere.
Rodriguez did it all in ’07–walk-off grand slams, walk-off homers, and ninth inning RBIs that were so unreal no one could believe what they were seeing. He finished the season with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs, and averaged .314.
2007 was pretty much “The Alex Rodriguez Show.” 2009 is proving to be “The New York Yankees Team Show.”
If you look back at how the Yankees handled themselves in 1998, everyone on the team contributed. That was why they won 114 games during the regular season and 125 games overall.
One night it might be Jeter, the next night Paul O’Neill, maybe the game after that Tino Martinez or Bernie Williams, and so on.
We are getting that same formula this year; one night it might be Damon, the next game Teixeira, another night it could be Jeter or Rodriguez, or Melky Cabrera. They are displaying excellent teamwork, like the 1990s Championship teams. They don’t beat themselves and they play every inning.
They’ve also been able to provide game-winning mystique, similar to the old Stadium. Cabrera has been clutch (as noted in the last edition of the blog; three walk-off hits this year) Jorge Posada has had a good year (two walk-offs to this point) and Rodriguez has even provided some walk-off magic (he has two game-winning hits this year)
Girardi described the team as “very resilient,” and they certainly are. They bounce back from things quickly, as demonstrated last night; Victor Martinez hit a two-run shot to give Boston a 2-1 lead in the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Damon and Teixeira get the lead right back (to back…OK, bad joke)
The point is that if they are able to keep on doing what they are doing and playing the way they’ve been playing, they will go an awfully long way down the stretch and into the post-season.
At press time the Yankees sport the best record in baseball at 69-42. Last year they were 61-50 after 111 games, so as you can see by that statistic, they have greatly improved since 2008.
Yet they have to continue to play hard throughout the rest of the season. They will see division rivals Boston and Baltimore six more times this year, Tampa Bay seven more times, and Toronto nine more times, beginning a three-game set with them tonight.
They’ll also have to face the likes of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Kansas City Royals along the way.
If any team can do it, it’s the Yankees. In their last 41 games they have gone an absolutely ridiculous 31-10. The Yankees are showing that they are for real.
Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. Join me next week for more topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!