Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
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!
The first thing I’d like to do is thank everyone who became fans of “Yankee Yapping” on Facebook. It’s great to have a following on the ‘net, and I hope everyone enjoys the blog every week and the other postings each day.
Anyway, away we go!
My thoughts on…
Road Trip and Why the Yankees Didn’t Get Washburn
It’s been an up-and-down road trip for the Bronx Bombers to this point, as they’ve gone 3-4 over their last seven games.
Taking two of three from Tampa Bay was a great thing and a good way to start the trip, but it all came tumbling down for some reason when the Yanks got to Chicago.
Game one of the four game series wasn’t terrible; we just caught a bad break in the bottom of the ninth and we lost, 3-2. But respect to Nick Swisher for keeping us alive in the top half of the ninth with that solo home run.
The White Sox turned it on and just beat us down in the next two games, and the Yanks really didn’t help themselves. They played some sloppy defense and didn’t get great pitching on Friday night. Sergio Mitre, simply put, was awful. It was disgraceful to watch as a Yankee fan.
Friday was also the non-waivers trade deadline and I was hoping for the Yankees to make a pitching move. One name that kept popping up was Jarrod Washburn, but it just didn’t happen for the Bombers.
The unfortunate truth is that the Yanks called Seattle about Washburn who has put up some decent numbers this year (Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA at the deadline) But the Mariners wanted either Jesus Montero or Austin Jackson in the deal. Unwilling to part with either one of those top prospects, the Yanks tried to negotiate for lesser players and called Seattle to inquire.
But Seattle never got back to the Yanks, giving them the opportunity to trade Washburn away to the Tigers. And it proved to hurt the Yanks, seeing as how poorly Mitre pitched in Friday night’s 10-5 loss (three innings, five earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and one strikeout)
So instead of a pitcher, the Yanks added utility man Jerry Hairston, Jr. Coming over from the Cincinnati Reds and only playing in two games for the Yanks thus far, Hairston already has three hits, two RBIs, and a run scored.
Hairston has also played some solid defense in the last two games, earning himself a “Web Gem” on Sunday night’s edition of “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN. He made a great, diving stop at third base to prevent a hit in the first inning of Sunday’s game.
Good pickup for the Yankees in Hairston, but we could have used a starter.
For as bad as everyone said A.J. Burnett looked on Saturday afternoon, I personally didn’t think he was that horrible. He walked a batter with the bases loaded in the second inning, an inning that the White Sox scored six runs.
But if you took a close look at the pitch that was called ball four, it was not a ball. That pitch was right over the plate and knee level, but the umpire refused to ring it up. Burnett only walked two batters and he struck out four over the 4.2 innings he pitched, but he was getting no help from the umpires and overall wasn’t terrible. The Yanks lost big, 14-4.
Finally the Yanks pulled out a win in Sunday’s game, winning 8-5 and hopefully gaining the momentum back for tomorrow’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In yesterday’s 8-5 win, it was a banner day for Melky Cabrera. He started the Yanks off on the right note with a home run in the top of the second.
He then went on to double in the fourth, single in the fifth, and triple in the ninth, completing the first Yankee cycle since Sep. 3, 1995 when Tony Fernandez accomplished the feat against the Oakland Athletics.
He also became only the 15th Yankee to ever do it, joining the likes of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Bobby Murcer among others.
Another interesting stat that came up was that like Cabrera, Mantle and DiMaggio also hit their cycles against the White Sox.
Looking at the emotion on his face after he slid head-first into third base, you could just tell how happy Cabrera was. I think it really meant a lot for him to hit for the cycle, and after the game he was so thankful for Joe Girardi giving him the chance to play everyday.
Remember that Cabrera and Brett Gardner battled for the starting centerfielder job in Spring Training, a battle that Gardner won. But so far it looks like Cabrera is winning the war.
Cabrera has set a career-high in home runs this season with 10 to this point (the most he ever hit in a season was eight coming into this year) and he has been clutch in every facet of his game. He’s made some great catches on defense and has a handful of walk-off hits under his belt.
He was named Pepsi’s Clutch Performer of the Month in May, and he certainly earned it. As of June 9, Cabrera had 23 RBIs on the year, and of those 23 runs batted in, 11 of them either tied the game or gave the Yanks the lead in the seventh inning or later.
At press time Cabrera is sporting a .292 batting average with the noted 10 homers and 40 RBIs. Fans can expect more big things from the clutch Cabrera down the stretch, as this is proving to be his best season yet.
I think the Yanks made the right move not trading him for Mike Cameron in the off-season.
David Ortiz and his use of PEDs
I’m really not surprised David Ortiz’s name was on the list of 104 players that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
As a Yankee loyalist, I am by no means a supporter of the Boston Red Sox, but I have to say I was disappointed in Ortiz for it. I really have nothing against him personally; I feel he has been the face of their organization for a few years now, and he has such a way about him.
Ortiz seems to keep the Boston clubhouse loose with his attitude and presence, and he’s been doing that ever since he arrived in Boston.
But I cannot tell you how many conversations I had with my best friend about how Big Papi all of a sudden gained legendary power.
We used to say all the time, “he didn’t hit anything when he was a Minnesota Twin. Then he goes to Boston and he’s Mr. Power?” It didn’t make sense then, but it does now.
While a member of the Twins, Ortiz hit a total of 58 home runs over six years. In his first year with the Red Sox in 2003 (which was also the year he tested positive for PEDs) he hit 31 home runs and averaged .288 with 101 RBIs. Before ’03 Ortiz had never knocked in more than 75 runs in a single season.
I would be extremely upset if I were a Boston Red Sox supporter. That would be like finding out Derek Jeter took steroids. It would crush me.
Hopefully the players wise up and realize that if you take steroids, you will get burned. Your reputation gets tarnished and everything you do is looked at differently. Now other players (most notably Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels) are saying Boston’s 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships are tainted.
I would say in a way they are, more so ’04 than ’07. Ortiz was a major reason (if not the reason) the BoSox even made it to the World Series in ’04. He was named the MVP of the ALCS that year—the series Boston rallied back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees.
Speaking of MVP Awards, Manny Ramirez was named the ’04 World Series MVP. He was also caught for using PEDs, so yeah; I would say Boston’s ’04 World Title is looking pretty phony and artificial.
But good performances and timely hitting from clean players like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell were bigger reasons they won it in ’07. Unless players from the ’07 team test positive for banned substances in the future, I would say they won it fair and square that year.
Upcoming Series vs. Boston
On Thursday, the Yanks start up a four-game series against the arch-rival Red Sox. This is the series that can either make or break either team, and determine which club will have the upper hand in the AL Eastern Division and which one will have to stay afloat in the Wild Card.
At press time the Yankees currently sit in first place with their record of 63-42. Boston is 62-42, ½ game out of first place and even with New York in the loss column.
Girardi is doing the right thing with today’s off-day. He is re-configuring the rotation so that the better of the Yankee pitchers match-up with the Red Sox.
Andy Pettitte and Mitre are starting the two games against Toronto, while the brunt of the staff will go head-to-head against Boston.
Joba Chamberlain, Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Pettitte will be the four pitchers the Red Sox will see (on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively). Right now the Yankees are looking at John Smoltz and Josh Beckett in games one and two of the series, and it is not yet known which two Red Sox pitchers will go on Saturday and Sunday.
The Yankees have not beaten the Red Sox at all this year, going 0-8 against their worst enemies. But the Yanks have an advantage playing at home where they are 35-17 this year.
Whatever happens, the Yankees need to at least split this series, and if not take three out of four or sweep them. If the Yankees and Red Sox finish with the same record and Boston wins the season series against the Yankees, Boston gets the division crown.
So with roughly two months to go, this series may prove to be huge in which team gets the division.
“It’s the master plan…God’s way…Yankees/Red Sox.”–Johnny Damon
That does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll be back next week with more topics and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!