Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

He Ran for Her: An Interview with Alyssa Esposito, The “Gardner Girl”

On May 15, 2009 Brett Gardner made history. In a game he wasn’t even originally part of (thank Johnny Damon for getting himself ejected) he raced 360 feet around the Yankee Stadium bases in a dashing 14 seconds for an inside-the-park home run against the Minnesota Twins.

 

Yes, 14 seconds. The Flash and Sonic the Hedgehog can eat their hearts out.

 

 


Brett Gardner: faster than the Flash and Sonic 

Many people are familiar about the real story behind the home run. A young lady by the name of Alyssa Esposito had given Gardner a bracelet earlier in the day, claiming that if he held onto the bracelet he would hit a home run.

 

Her premonition came true.

 

Gardner became the first Yankee since Ricky Ledee to hit an inside the park home run. Ledee accomplished the feat on Aug. 29, 1999 vs. the Seattle Mariners. The speedy Gardner finished the night 3-for-3 with the in-the-parker, and even led off the ninth inning with a triple that sparked the Yankees’ come-from-behind rally.

 

The Yanks went on to win the game 5-4 on a Melky Cabrera walk-off single.

 

Gardner left the Stadium that day, not only with an inside-the-park homer, but with a lifelong friend–Esposito. The 18 year-old (now 19) was waiting for four months for a heart transplant and received it the night of Gardner’s amazing show of speed.

 

Alyssa and Brett and friends for life 

 

The courageous young lady recently spoke to Yankee Yapping about her experience, what she is up to now after her successful surgery, and how she made it to the back of Gardner’s baseball card.

 

Yankee Yapping: Were you always a Yankee fan, or did your experience with Brett Gardner make you one?

 

Alyssa Esposito: I was never a Yankee fan, but I also was never a baseball fan in general either. I guess I was raised a Mets “fan” until I met Brett Gardner at the hospital. Now I watch every game on TV, and root for the Yankees. I never realized how cool and exciting baseball was until after Brett hit the inside the park homerun.

 

 

 

YY: What was Brett’s initial reaction when you gave him the bracelet?

 

AE: Overall Brett is a really sweet and humble guy. He really connected with each patient after he read a book at the hospital event, provided by Project Sunshine. When I gave him the bracelet he gave me a really big smile that just made my day. I could tell that he was hesitant about the fact that I said it would help him hit a homerun, but like I said, that’s the humble guy inside.

 

 

YY: After your heart surgery you found out Gardner hit the inside-the-park home run. What were your thoughts after it happened?

 

AE: It’s actually a pretty funny story. Supposedly my family told me Brett hit the inside-the-park home run right before I went into surgery, but the heavy duty drugs the doctors give me to put me to sleep must have gotten to my memory which made me not remember.

 

But I was reminded as soon as I woke up from my surgery.

 

My family also showed me the replay after my transplant but apparently I had to watch it several times and I was told I had said “He’s running for me”, which brought tears to my Mom’s eyes. At that time the medicine from surgery and also the pain medicine was still wearing off.

 

 


Inside-the-park!!! 

 

YY: A number of publications and media outlets called you Gardner’s good luck charm that night. Can you explain how that feels?

 

AE: I smile whenever I hear or read that I am Brett’s good luck charm but honestly I really think God just set it all up. He took two unlikely circumstances and made them into two miracles. As of this day whenever I think about what has happened, I get the chills.

 

 

YY: After the May 15 win over the Twins, the Yankees went on a stretch where they went 17-9. Did you at all feel you really were their good luck charm?

 

 


Yankees win! 

AE: I like to think that I am their good luck charm in a way that they just got a boost from the inside-the-park home run Gardner hit. Maybe they felt that anything is possible and that just made them want to try even harder.

 

 

 

YY: It’s every little boy’s dream to have his face printed on a baseball card. You are on the back of Brett Gardner’s card. How did that happen?

 

AE: I didn’t know about the story being on the back of Gardner’s baseball card until a mother of a girl I graduated high school with asked me on Facebook if I knew about it.

 

Her son has a collection of baseball cards and his mother was looking through them one day and came across Brett’s. She had said her son wanted me to have it, which I thought was the absolute sweetest thing. She mailed it to me and when I went to a Yankee game, Brett signed it for me.

 

 

YY: After your transplant you reunited with the Yanks and Gardner. How special was it to see Brett again and was it an emotional experience?

 

AE:The first time I saw Brett after my heart transplant was at a press conference at the hospital. It was very emotional seeing all of my doctors there to support the hospital.

 

Brett and I spoke for a few minutes to just catch up and talk personally. It was just an overwhelming feeling being there with the healthy new heart inside of me and reuniting with Brett. I thought it was a special day because I got to meet him when I was actually healthy and full of energy.

 

 


He did it for her 

 

YY: The other Yankees gave you some pretty cool gifts when you went to your first game after the operation, huh?

 

AE: The first Yankee game my family and I went to after my heart transplant was the most fun I have had in a long time. The stadium is amazing and it was my first time going there. Each one of the Yankees I met are extremely nice and they were all concerned about how I was feeling after my surgery.

 

Nick Swisher was full of excitement and energy and I loved his huge smile on his face. He referred to me as “The Gardner Girl” when he came up to me, and I absolutely love that nickname!

 

Alex Rodriguez had signed both of his gloves he had just used for batting practice and gave them to me. He was very sincere about it and did not want to make a big deal at all in front of the cameras.

 

I got a baseball signed by a few players as well and have it in my room along with the batting gloves inside a case. I also have a signed jersey by some of the players that I wore on the field the day I went to the game. I plan on making a scrapbook with the hundreds of pictures my family and I took that day as a beautiful memory.

 

 

YY: The Yankees capped off the 2009 season with a World Series title. When the last out was made– the Shane Victorino groundout to Robinson Cano–like most Yankee fans you were probably very excited. Was it especially a sweet win for you, considering what you went through earlier in the year?

 

 


Celebrate!!!! 

AE: It was for sure a sweet win for me and it was so great to see the excitement. Every bit of hard work they put in playing, was worth it.

 

I look back all the time and realize how much I have gone through and I truly believe the Yankees deserved every bit of that title with their hard work. Just like every bit of strength and fighting power I gave in to survive, was worth the gift of life I received. I continue to thank God for my precious donor who gave me a priceless gift.

 

 

YY: Now that you have had the successful heart surgey, what are you doing in terms of your future?

 

AE: I am in college right now. I took one semester of courses all online and I plan on continuing to do that until I feel it is time to attend the actual classrooms. I have to be careful because my immune system is suppressed. I love the online classes because it is convenient and if I have a visit to the hospital it won’t interfere with them.

Graduation

 

 

Graduation is tomorrow!

In less than 24 hours I will officially be ending (what seems like) a pretty long and important chapter in my life. I will be graduating from Mercy College Wednesday morning.

 

Over the past couple of days I have been reflecting on what life has been like for the time I spent in college. There have been a lot experiences and different things I have been able to do. Some semesters were better than others, some good and some not as good. I can say I had many good times and just as many difficult times.

 

But as Derek Jeter once said, “You find out a lot about yourself when dealing with adversity.” The Yankee captain couldn’t have been more right. I did learn a lot about myself through difficult times.

 

I think the busiest semester had to be last spring, or the spring of 2009. There was a lot going on at the time, both good and bad. One of the good parts about that semester was the weekend of March 13. I had a cool story to cover (and a date with the girl I liked at the time the next day…but that’s another story for another time!)

 

That Friday, former New York Yankee catcher and current YES Network broadcaster John Flaherty was the guest of honor at a fundraiser breakfast my college’s softball team hosted. As the sports editor of the school newspaper, my job was to cover the event and write an article about it.

 

Cover an event and talk to an ex-Yankee? Yeah, I was up for it! (Please don’t laugh at the picture; it was REALLY early in the morning…I am NOT a morning person!)

 

 

I met John Flaherty in the spring of 2008 

After the breakfast was over, Flaherty spoke to us about his career and what it was like playing for the Yankees. He told some great stories and encouraged the Mercy teams to enjoy their time together as friends and teammates.

 

Probably the best story Flaherty told was how he got called up to the majors. He mentioned that he and his friends had gone out for “sodas” the night before and his first day on the job in the majors he felt a little…hung-over.

 

I asked him what it felt like to be in the Major Leagues, seeing as how it’s every little boy’s dream to be there. He said aside from being hung-over that it was a whirlwind; it took awhile for it to sink in that he was a major leaguer. He even said he didn’t believe it until Kirk Gibson told him he was not going back to the minors.

 

 


Flash! 

Flaherty said his favorite Yankee teammate was Jorge Posada and that he still keeps in touch with him to this day. Well, I guess working for YES and just being a former Yankee, he can probably pretty much keep in touch with all of the current Yankees.

 

There were also some things Flaherty talked about that day which took me by surprise. First off, until then I had no idea he was originally drafted in the 25th round by the Boston Red Sox. Long before he swung his bat and beat the BoSox on July 1, 2004, he was a member of the Red Sox.

 

Another thing he spoke about was how he almost passed on being a Yankee. The Texas Rangers called him and they wanted him to be their everyday catcher. When he realized the deal with Texas was not going to work out, he had to call Brian Cashman back and tell him he wanted in.

 

He came to Spring Training in 2003 as a non-roster invitee and ultimately made the team.

 

One last thing he said (that I didn’t even think of until he mentioned it) was the 2003 World Series, which the Yankees played in against the Florida Marlins. “Even though we didn’t win, it felt good to be there,” Flaherty said. “There really is nothing like playing in the fall classic.”

 

After it was all over, Flaherty took a picture (above) with me and signed a ball for me.

 

The ball he signed for me 

 

He was very friendly and overall I feel it was one of the better and more interesting articles I wrote as sports editor of the school newspaper. I put a lot of hard work into that article.

 

 


This was the article I wrote on Flaherty 

I can pretty much say that was one of the best experiences I have ever had in college. It was just a perfect weekend; everything that happened meant a lot to me and it’ll be a memory I’ll carry with myself for the rest of my life.

 

There were good times, bad times, easy times, and difficult times. Ups and downs, lefts and rights. But looking back, I probably would not have changed anything. I feel I worked as hard as I possibly could and tomorrow I will get what I went to college for; reach the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and receive my Bachelor’s degree.

 

I’d just like to take this time now and thank everyone who helped me along the way; my family and my friends. They all believed in me, even in times when I really didn’t believe in myself.

 

I’d especially like to thank all my friends from Mercy at the newspaper (Perrota, John, Kevin, Jenn, Ashley, Kristina, Katie, Shedeiky, Sean, Paul, Bloomy…and everyone else, there’s too many to list!) I’ll never forget meeting every week to discuss story ideas, learn about new things in terms of how to write articles, and of course laughing at all the jokes we cracked in between work.

 

Lastly I’d like to thank the loyal readers of this blog. I started Yankee Yapping last summer and I honestly never thought it would even go as far as it has. It has been the featured blog on the MLBlogs page and has amassed over 600 fans on Facebook.

 

So to all you readers, THANK YOU! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and your kind words are truly encouraging.

 

Thank you, Everyone!!!!! :) 

 

Tomorrow is the big day; wish me luck everyone. I am nervous, which kind of strikes me; the day I graduated High School I was not nervous at all. In fact, I could not have been more thrilled to be leaving. But even right now I have butterflies in my stomach and I am a little saddened that college is over.

 

As for the Yankees: well, hopefully they learn how to hit the ball again and beat the Minnesota Twins tonight. This losing nonsense is getting quite ridiculous!

MLB Weekend Highlights

 

 

So much going on this weekend!

It’s been a crazy weekend in baseball!

 

Yankees

 

 


Mark Teixeira hit a homer on Sunday 

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.

 

AL East

 

 


A three..or two team race this year... 

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.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez

 


Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies' history Saturday vs. the Braves    

 

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.

 

Marathon Game

 


The Mets beat the Cardinals in 20 innings Saturday 

 

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…

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium: A Wonderful Experience

 


Opening Day!!!  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A Meaningful Day

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The old ballpark is almost gone! 


  

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

 

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

 

Heartbreaking, to say the least.

 

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

 

2009 World Series Champs! 


  

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

 

I love my family :) 


  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 
Tommy caught a foul ball during BP! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ring Ceremony

 


Ring Ceremony! 


  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

group hug! 


  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

USA! 


  

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

 

 


LOUD!!!!!!! 

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

 

It’s Ok, Bernie. I still love you.

 

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

 

The Game

 


NJ homered for the Yankees' first run 


  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 
touch 'em all, Jeter! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


 
Hideki Matsui was 0-for-5   

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The End

 


closer view after the seat upgrade!!! 


  

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Don’t mention it,” he replied.

 

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

 

Who says New Yorkers are mean-spirited?

 

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

 

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

 

 
Bobby Abreu hit a grand slam! 

 

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

 

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

 

Enter Sandman. 


  

Ballgame over. Yankees win. THEEEEE Yankees win!

 

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

 


 
taking congrats.    

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Keep smiling down on us and the Yankees.

 


 
Yankees win!!  

Johnny Be Gone

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

5) June 7, 2008– A six hit day

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Yankees won the slugfest, 12-11.

 

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

 

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

 

4) Boston Massacre, 2006

 

 


Epic. 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

They had the Yankees to thank for that.

 

3) Walk-off Against Minnesota

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


pwned 

 

 

2) Oct. 7, 2007–Game 3 of the ALDS

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“We won it for Joe.”

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Have fun in Detroit with Austin Jackson.

 

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

 


BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!   

He Was Never a Real Yankee, But…

Yesterday, one of the biggest pitchers of our generation stepped down and retired. And he was big not only in terms of his height, but what he accomplished on the baseball field.

 

 


Randy Johnson announced his retirement yesterday 

Pitcher Randy Johnson (all 6’10” of him) better known by his famous nickname “The Big Unit,” announced his retirement from baseball after 22 illustrious seasons. He stepped down at the young age of 46, proving that 40 is pretty much the new 30.

 

Over the course of his 22 seasons in the majors, Johnson pitched for six teams; The Montreal Expos, the Seattle Mariners, the Houston Astros, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New York Yankees, and he finished his career in 2009 as a member of the San Francisco Giants.

 

Johnson accomplished so much over the course of his career and he is basically a dead lock for a first ballot Hall of Fame induction. He made 10 All Star Game appearances and tossed a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves on May 18, 2004.

 

He won Five Cy Young Awards, 303 Games, a World Series Championship and a World Series Most Valuable Player Award (he shared the honor in 2001 with teammate Curt Schilling as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who beat the Yankees in the ’01 fall classic).

 

With the type of career he had, he practically deserves his own room in Cooperstown.

 

Oftentimes people wonder how he got the nickname “Big Unit.” When Johnson was a member of the Expos back in 1988, his teammate Tim Raines accidentally collided with him in a batting practice session. Raines exclaimed, “You really are a big unit!”

 

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing Johnson pitch one time, of course as a member of the New York Yankees. The night was June 21, 2005, Yankees vs. the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Yankee Stadium. I was so psyched to see this future Hall of Famer pitch a game for my favorite team.

 

 


The night I saw Johnson pitch, he was off his game. 

Unfortunatley the Big Unit had a rough night.

 

Johnson scattered seven earned runs behind eight hits in just three innings, giving Tampa Bay a commanding 7-2 lead by the end of the third inning. He walked a batter, struck out three, and gave up three home runs.

 

It was frustrating to watch, but believe it or not, the Yankees came back and won the game, beating Tampa Bay by a score of 20-11. By the end of the game, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Gary Sheffield all hit home runs (Sheffield even left the park twice!)

 

Yes, the final box score looked like something you might see at Giants Stadium across the river, but I was just thankful the Yankees won. It was an eventful game to say the least!

 

Although Johnson had a miserable outing, I can vividly remember the reception he got when he jogged out to the bullpen to warm up before the start of the game; the crowd roared for him and showed him a lot of respect; all the respect well-deserved for a pitcher of his caliber. He just didn’t fit in with the Yankees and that was evident from the moment he got to New York.

 

When he first arrived in the Big Apple, Johnson went to take a physical examination in Manhattan. A CBS camera crew caught him and tried to follow him around the City while asking him questions. Johnson got annoyed and shouted angrily at the cameraman, resulting in a confrontation.

 

 


Randy Johnson did not like media attention. 

Sure enough, all over the newspapers and media outlets the next day was the Big Unit, slapping away the camera. He apologized for the incident, but everyone I talked to said they didn’t think he could handle New York after what had happened. Those thoughts were well-founded, because after just two seasons in pinstripes, he was gone.

 

As a member of the Yankees, Johnson won 34 games, had some rough postseason starts, and was involved in a little scrap on the streets of Manhattan. But on the bright side, he never lost to the Red Sox when he faced them.

 

Following 2006, Johnson had one more year left on his contract with the Yankees. However, he asked for a trade back to Arizona, where he spent most of his career and a good portion of his life. His brother had died and he wanted to be closer to his family, so he asked for the trade and the Yanks granted him his wish.

 

 


After just two seasons with the Yankees, Johnson went back to Arizona 

I will always feel that his heart and soul was never in New York, but always with the Diamondbacks and in the National League in general. To me he was never an American League pitcher, even after all the years he spent with the Mariners.

 

When I think of Johnson, I think of the National League because almost everything that he really ever accomplished came when he pitched there. And that isn’t a bad thing; it’s good that he was able to find a niche in the NL and have such a successful career pitching in that league.

 

My congratulations to you, Mr. Johnson. You are truly one of a kind and one of the all-time greats. With such prodigious longevity you will undoubtedly be in the Hall of Fame some day. Nice work!

My Favorite Right Fielder

“He was really my first…you know,’ warrior’ guy.”George Steinbrenner on Paul O’Neill.

 

Right field is a sacred position in Yankee history. Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris, and even the immortal Babe Ruth have all played the glorious corner outfield position. It’s one of the most beloved positions ever.

 

Growing up a Yankee fan during the late 1990s, I was brought up with one right fielder. A man who hated to lose. A man who worked probably harder than 90 percent of the players in the league. A man who defined the word “game.”

 

I am of course speaking about Paul O’Neill.

 

Paul O'Neill is my favorite right fielder of all-time 

 

There’s no doubt that in my lifetime, O’Neill was the absolute best right fielder the Yankees have had. His love of winning and powerful clubhouse presence helped propel the Yankees to four World Championships and five pennants in the nine years he played in pinstripes.

 

Paul O'Neill atop the dog pile of Yankees celebrating their 1996 title 

 

It’s almost as if O’Neill needed to win.

 

Buster Olney, beat writer for The New York Times in the ’90s and author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty,” basically described O’Neill as a “lifetime must-winner;” even when he was a child he hated to lose.

 

For example, he would play basketball games against his brother Robert as a young man, the first to 25 points wins the game. O’Neill would reach 23 points, victory in his sights. Then Robert would sink bucket after bucket until he reached 25, a tactic used to demoralize O’Neill.

 

Siblings can be so cruel, can’t they?  

 

O’Neill would call his mother at work and claim that Robert cheated. And after a loss, he wanted more. He would goad his brother to give him a return match. “What’s the matter cheater,” he would antagonize. “You’re not getting lucky again!”

 

He hated to lose, but even when he won, the past defeats clung to him.

 

For instance, if he went 4-for-5 in a game, he would sit by his locker and think about the one hit he missed out on. He would not focus on the four hits, but the one he missed and he tried to think about what to do differently the next time up.

 

I would say O’Neill was a little hard on himself; it’s difficult to get a major league hit, let alone multiple hits in a single game. But really any poor at-bat he saw as a failure, and it affected his psyche.

 

Another interesting point Olney made in his book about O’Neill (that really struck me) was how his attitude rubbed off on his own children. His kids saw how he behaved while playing baseball and mimicked it in a way when they played organized sports.

 

 


Whenever he failed, it affected his psyche 

His son Andy played in an eight-year old basketball league. During a game, he missed a shot and began to cry as he made his way back down the court. O’Neill and his wife Nevalee were in the bleachers watching the game. Nevalee tapped her husband on the shoulder.

 

She could only say one thing to her husband as she watched her son cry:”It’s all your fault.” 

 

It’s obvious that although O’Neill had that warrior-like mentality and gamesmanship, it went the other way sometimes and had negative effects on those around him.

 

He also drew criticism from it; when he was extremely upset with a call from an umpire or a failed at-bat, he would toss his helmet, throw his bat, argue, smash the bat rack and Gatorade coolers, and/or throw his batting gloves.

 

He used to fume when things didn’t go his way and his teammates drew fascination and amusement from it. His opponents thought he was acting like a child. Basically his antics were amusing to his friends but not his enemies.

 

Me–I thought he was awesome. It was never something I incorporated into my own routine as a Little Leaguer; I always tried to be as respectful as possible (and still do). But watching O’Neill was great. He just never gave up and never wanted to lose.

 

My favorite memory of O’Neil came in 1997; I was in fourth grade and at Yankee Stadium on a class field trip and it was the first regular season Subway Series. In the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 2-2 and O’Neill standing on third base, Tino Martinez hit a long fly ball to center, a sac fly that allowed O’Neill to score the winning run.

 

Yankees beat the Mets, 3-2. It was one of my more special games attended and one of my favorite sports moments ever.

 

I was also happy to see O’Neill play in the Old Timer’s game in 2007; I went to the game with my family and it felt like the old days, watching O’Neill and all the former players put on their cleats for one more day. That was also a great memory I had of him and the Yankees in general. 
This was my view of the field watching O'Neill play on Old Timer's day in 2007I

 

After the 2001 season, O’Neill called it a career. It was heartwarming in Game Four of the World Series that year; the Yankee faithful serenaded the beloved Yankee, chanting, “Paul O-Ne-ill” for almost an entire half inning. You could just tell how emotional it was for him by his body language; I think it nearly brought him to tears.

 

Even though the Yanks lost the World Series in ’01 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, O’Neill finished his career on a high note; Five World Series titles (including the Championship he won in 1990 with the Cincinnati Reds) Five All-Star selections, 281 home runs, a .288 lifetime batting average, 1,269 RBIs.

 

So much respect for no. 21 

 

He certainly left a lifetime of memories for us fans.

 

Since he retired, I don’t think there has been a right fielder who has made as much of an impact as O’Neill. Even after he retired (in 2002, to be exact) then-Yankee manager Joe Torre reached out to O’Neill asking him to come out of retirement because he was in dire need of a right fielder.

 

A year after he retired, they wanted him back because nobody was as good as him.

 

O’Neill maintained his retirement and turned Torre down, which prompted Torre and the Yankees’ front office to make a trade for Raul Mondesi, who played right field for about a year in pinstripes before he was traded away.

 

They say true heroes live on in those who continue their legacy. And there have been many players who have taken over right field, yet none of them staying as long as O’Neill.

 

Mondesi succeeded O'Neill 

 

Mondesi lasted until 2003 and after Karim Garcia ruined right field for me, it was Gary Sheffield, who could hit but also ran his mouth too much. Sheffield publicly stated that he should have been the team captain.

 

 


Sheffield was no O'Neill 

Yeah…sure, Sheff. You were in pinstripes for a cup of coffee; Derek Jeter played his whole career in pinstripes with an enormous amount of success. You, not Jeter, should be captain. Dream on, buddy.

 

Sheffield played 2004, 2005, and was injured for the majority of the 2006 season, which yet again forced the Yankees to make a trade for a right fielder.

 

In ’06 the Yankees acquired Bobby Abreu, who I think without a shadow of a doubt, was the best right fielder since O’Neill. His calm personality and humble demeanor was a stark contrast to O’Neill’s, but he could hit for average, power, and maintained control of right field the way O’Neill would have wanted.

 

Bobby Abreu was probably the best right fielder since O'Neill 

 

Abreu was and still is a very special player and even though he is an Angel right now, I still like him, respect him, and wish he was still with the Yankees.

 

Nick Swisher played right field for the Yanks in '09 

 

In 2009, the Yankees called on Nick Swisher to play right field, due to the season-ending elbow injury of Xavier Nady. Swisher was not too shabby, what with his goofy personality and funny antics.

 

But no matter who plays right field in the years to come, O’Neill will always hold a special place in Yankee lore and certainly in my heart.

 

Now the real question is, will they retire his number 21? I was so happy to see his giant banner in the Great Hall at the New Yankee Stadium this year and when you think about it, no one has really worn the number 21 since he retired. The Yanks have sort of taken it out of circulation.

 

O'Neill in the Great Hall. Will 21 be retired? 

 

LaTroy Hawkins tried out the number in 2008, only to get booed by the Yankee fans. Hawkins asked Jeter why the fans were booing him, and Jeter told him that his number was “close to the fans.”

 

Hawkins then changed his number from 21 to 22.

 

Whatever happens with his number, O’Neill will forever be immortal. No Yankee fan like me, who grew up with the Yankee Dynasty of the late ’90s, will forget him. He was just an everyday guy who everyday went out and played his guts out.

 

He was a warrior. And I don’t think we will ever see another Yankee quite like him.

 

“Paul O’Neill’s daily fight for success became our fight.“–David Cone

 

 

Bob Sheppard Retires

 

The legendary Bob Sheppard has called it a career

 

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

These are words we have heard from the legendary Bob Sheppard for the better part of 56 years. After a long career behind the microphone as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, the 99 year-old Sheppard has officially retired as of yesterday.

 

Sheppard had missed time during the 2007 and 2008 seasons battling sickness, and has now given up his spot behind the microphone in the Bronx. It is a sad day, but I am so thankful that we had Bob for so long. 

 

His first day on the job was April 17, 1951, a Yankees/Red Sox game. How fitting! Among the future Hall of Fame players in the Red Sox lineup that day were Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau.

 

The future Yankee Hall of Famers in the starting lineup included Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and Johnny Mize.

 

Happy Birthday, Bob Sheppard!!! 

 

Sheppard knows so much about how proper language should be spoken. In fact, he was a speech teacher at John Adams High School and at the college he graduated from, St. John’s University.

 

He felt his teaching career was more important than his job as an announcer.

 

Sports have always been in Sheppard’s blood. At St. John’s he earned seven varsity letters as the baseball squad’s starting first baseman and the football team’s starting quarterback.

 

Talk about being an outstanding athlete!

 

As an announcer, Sheppard pronounced everything the way it was supposed to be pronounced. He once said in a documentary, “My job as an address announcer is to inform the people that the next hitter is De-rek Je-ter–clear, concise, correct, there’s nothing wrong with it.

 

It’s not DEEERRREEEEKKK JEEEETEEERRRR!!!!!!!”

 

I have to agree with him; nobody wants to hear the announcer scream the names of the players so that we cannot understand what they are saying. We always knew what Sheppard was saying.

 

Bob Sheppard is the man 

 

He also owned a unique way of announcing the players; for instance, he would say, “Now batting, third baseman, number 13, Alex Rodriguez. Number 13.” He would give you the player’s position, uniform number, name, and then uniform number again.

 

He had his own style. That is the trademark of someone who his great at what they do.

 

In the same documentary, Sheppard noted that Mantle was his favorite player to announce. The Mick once told him, “Every time Bob Sheppard announces my name, I got shivers up and down my spine.”

 

Sheppard responded, “So do I.”

 

To announce the winningest franchise in all of sports had to wonderful for Sheppard, yet to be a part of that winning for so long was probably even better for him.

 

Sheppard's monument in the park 

 

When the Yankees won, so did he. Sheppard has been awarded with the World Series Championship rings for his role as the Yankees’ announcer. He was also given a well-deserved monument in the park at Yankee Stadium, dedicated by the Yanks on May 7, 2000.

 

His microphone has also been encased in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

 

Yet baseball was not the only sport Sheppard was involved in.

 

Bob Sheppard announced for the NY Giants from 1956-2005 

 

He also served as the announcer for the New York Football Giants from 1956 through the end of the 2005 campaign. Just like he received World Series rings from the Yankees, Sheppard was honored with Super Bowl rings when the G-Men won Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and Super Bowl XXV in 1991.

 

The Giants played their home games at Yankee Stadium beginning in 1956, and the ever-loyal Sheppard stayed with them through their move into Giants Stadium in 1976.

 

Sheppard also announced football games for St. John’s before he made his debut as the Yankees’ public address announcer.

 

Sheppard is a man who has seen it all; American League Pennants, World Series Championships, Super Bowls, some of the greatest games ever played. And now his announcing career is at an end.

 

But no matter where he goes and how he goes, he will never, and I repeat NEVER be forgotten by his fans. He will always be a part of the Yankees’ family and…well, he is immortal. His legacy will always be one of dignity, class, and grace.

 

Reggie Jackson once called him “The Voice of God.” And he really is. Sheppard’s booming, jovial voice will always be a part of the Yankees.

 

On behalf of every Yankee fan in the World, THANK YOU, BOB SHEPPARD! YOU ARE TRULY A LEGEND!  

 

“Thank you all. Please drive home safely.”  

World Series Game 6 and the 27th Title!

 

 

World Series!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Bus 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

But Matsui was just getting warmed up.

 

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

 

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

 

 


Hideki Matsui won 2009 World Series MVP 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Celebrate!!!! 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

What a way to end this year!

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


The Yankees have won their 27th title 

World Series Game 5

 

World Series!!!

 

That was almost awesome. Almost.

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

 

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

 

No such luck, whatsoever.

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Mark Teixeira ended game five with a strikeout 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Hey Pedro! 

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

 

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

 

Until then, Go Yankees!!!

 

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers