April 2009

When Rivals can be Friends…

It was a day to suspend the natural rivalry that exists between Yankees Fans and Red Sox Fans…

On a beautiful Sunday near Fenway Park, I met Julia of Julia’s Rants.  She was a very gracious host, and gave me an insider’s tour of the area. 

We took a long walk around Fenway Park, and I was able to envision what the area must look and smell like on game day…

We ducked into Game On!, a restaurant attached to Fenway Park, for lunch…

Julia had a BLT, while I went with the Tuna Salad Pita Sandwich.  While we ate, I had very strange feeling that I’d heard the name of the restaurant before.  During lunch, Julia gave me a gift for making the trip to Boston.  I may not have known who the Boston mascot was before, but I do now!  

Here’s Wally…

After lunch, Julia took me to the finish line for the Boston Marathon, which is on Boylston Street at the Boston Public Library.  As a long distance runner, I harbor grand illusions of actually one day qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  So, it was inspiring to see where I could eventually be running if my legs would ever cooperate in my attempts to make the qualifying time required for entry.

From Boylston Street, we walked over to the Prudential Center and went up to the 50th Floor Observation Deck known as the Prudential Skywalk.  Julia had a Red Sox jacket on and the young girl who took our tickets asked Julia if the Sox were playing tomorrow.  When Julia responded that they were, the girl proceeded to do a cute little dance.  Red Sox passion, you can’t help but admire it.   The views from the Skywalk were breathtaking, and I was in awe of the countless historic buildings below.

After taking our time walking the perimeter of the Skywalk, we resumed our hike down Newbury Street.  After seeing blocks and blocks of great shops, I couldn’t help but think that if Leigh Teixeira’s desire for Mark to sign with the Yankees was because of Manhattan shopping, she obviously has never been to Newbury Street.

We made our way to the Public Garden and Boston Common, walking through both parks.  Boston Common reminded me of Central Park on a smaller scale, but without the thugs.  It was a very nice day in Boston, and the general feeling of euphoria was shared by the hundreds of people in the parks. 

 

After leaving Boston Common, we came across the highlight of my day.  The original Cheers bar!  The bar, formerly called the Bull & Finch Pub, was used for the exterior shots of the TV series Cheers.   It is now called Cheers Beacon Hill and is located on Beacon Street.  There was a strange sense of déjà vu as we traveled down the steps to the bar.  I kept looking for Norm and Cliff but didn’t see them anywhere.  Somehow, I was expecting everyone to yell ‘Scott!’ when I walked in but alas it didn’t happen…

We walked back to Fenway Park, where I said farewell to Julia.  It was the end of a great day, and it certainly gave me a better understanding for why Julia is so passionate about her Red Sox.  You can see how excited she gets when she talks about her team, and you realize how much she loves the game of baseball.  I know very few people who enjoy the game as much as she does.  When she says that the Red Sox are going to win it all, you realize she may be right.

 

Wait a minute!  What am I saying?  The Yankees are going to win it all!

 

I have to say that I had a fantastic time in Boston.  It is a wonderful city, and if I had been born in the Boston area, there is no doubt that I’d be a Red Sox fan.  I found the city to be very clean, and the people were very warm, friendly and inviting.  Of course, they didn’t know my secret identity… 

 

Hey Julia, Game On!

By the way, there’s one thing that I don’t understand about Red Sox fans.  Why would anyone want to worship a pair of socks! 

 

A-ROD UPDATE

He’s (nearly) back!  After initial reports had Alex Rodriguez’s return set for mid-May, there is now talk that he may be back by the end of the month.  He is recovering very nicely, and says he is about 70% healthy.  He’s apparently already begun taking batting practice, and will be traveling to Tampa in a week where the Yankees will be able to evaluate his progress. 

 

Chuck Soloman/SI

My biggest concern would be for a premature return before he’s completely healed.  Plus, I’ve kind of been enjoying the ‘distraction-free’ aura of Yankees camp for the past month.  It’s been rather nice not hearing about ‘roids or A-Rod’s love life over the past few weeks…

 

OPENING DAY LINEUP

The Yankees opening day lineup in Baltimore against the Orioles will be:

1-Derek Jeter, ss

2-Johnny Damon, lf

3-Mark Teixeira, 1b

4-Hideki Matsui, dh

5-Jorge Posada, c

6-Robinson Cano, 2b

7-Xavier Nady, rf

8-Cody Ransom, 3b

9-Brett Gardner, cf

 

Starting Pitcher:  CC Sabathia

 

Here’s hoping the magic of the original Yankee Stadium finds its way across the street…

 

Elusive in Beantown!…

I successfully arrived in enemy territory.  Fortunately, I was not captured by the enemy…

Steven Senna/AP

I have set up camp on the foreign ground, and I set out today to explore the lay of the land.  First up, I checked out the enemy’s battle ship, the USS Constitution.  It is oldest commissioned warship in the world.  The sailors aboard the vessel indicated that at 33-0, Old Ironsides was the only undefeated team in Boston.  A formidable foe these Bostonians are…

 

Photo of painting at US Naval Museum

Next, I set out on foot and came upon the Bunker Hill Monument, site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.  It is where the colonials first stood up to the British army.  They repulsed two British attacks on June 17, 1775, but had to retreat during a third attack due to insufficient ammunition and an inability to ward off a powerful bayonet charge.   Although the British won the battle, they sustained heavy losses with 1,034 casualties (out of 2,200 men) and the colonials had proven they could stand up and fight.

The monument stands 221 feet and has 294 steps.  The steps were a bit of challenge for some, but the pay off were some great views of the city at the top of the monument. 

 

I continued to make my way along the Freedom Trail, where I encountered a number of enemy troops…

Masslive.com/Mediagirl

I took refuge in the Old North Church.  Built in 1723, it is the oldest standing church in Boston.  But it is better known as where, on April 18, 1775, two lanterns were held high in the steeple to signify that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea.

This was immortalized in a poem called Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860.  Here is an excerpt from the poem:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower, as a signal light, –
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

I stopped by a nearby restaurant, Strega, for lunch.  It’s a cozy, Italian ristorante on Hanover Street.  I had the Risotto Don Pietro, which was excellent, although a bit overpriced.

I spent the next few hours at Quincy Market, which featured a variety of shops.  I encountered a few outdoor musicians which is always a nice touch.  I almost bought a print of Fenway Park.  I guess the heavy influence of the enemy was getting to me, but I resisted and bought a YANKEES bear at Build-A-Bear instead…

Whew!  Close call.  One thing I did find interesting is that almost every place that sold Red Sox paraphernalia also featured Yankees items.  Not once did I see anything that referenced Rays, Orioles or Blue Jays, but the interlocking NY was everywhere.  So, I felt that even though I was in enemy territory, there were many fellow Yankee fans lurking among the crowds of people.

I checked out a few other historical sites, and also stopped by an Irish Pub for a bit of Guinness, but the afternoon was cut short by cold, high winds. 

So, I made my way back to my camp safely and unharmed.

The weather on Sunday is expected to be more favorable, so I am looking forward to continuing my reconnaissance mission.  Tomorrow, I will be meeting Julia of Julia’s Rants to get an insider’s view of Boston.  I have not met Julia before, but I doubt she’ll be hard to spot.  She’ll be the one in the pink Red Sox hat…

Don’t tell anybody, but I think Boston’s a very impressive city…

 

YANKEES WIN TWO AT NEW STADIUM

The Yankees defeated the Chicago Cubs in both exhibition games at the new Yankee Stadium.

Tomasso DeRosa/US Presswire 

Last night, they beat the Cubs, 7-4.  Mystique and Aura were out in full force as the Yankees hit home runs off both the right and left foul poles.  What are the odds of that happening? 

The Yankees won today’s game, 10-1, behind solid pitching by Andy Pettitte.  Mark Teixeira, with two home runs, is showing that maybe he won’t be a slow starter this year for a change.  Derek Jeter and Shelley Duncan also homered.

It was a tremendous start for the new Stadium.  Hopefully, the magic will continue on April 16th when the Yankees officially open the ballpark. 

The Yankees head to Baltimore to face the Orioles at Camden Yards on Monday for the season opener.  Also, in a move that had been expected in recent weeks, Ramiro Pena beat out Angel Berroa for the utility infielder spot.  In order to make room for Pena on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated pitcher Dan Giese for assignment.

Kim Klement/US Presswire

FOR JULIA…

If you’ve seen Julia’s latest post, you’ll know that she suffered a mishap today involving a knife and her finger while slicing a bagel.  Yikes!  Hopefully, she’s okay and will have a speedy recovery.  Good luck with those one-handed posts!  ;)

Julia, here’s something to cheer you up…

Mission: Behind Enemy Lines…

I am headed into enemy territory…

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe

I am on a mission to see how the Red Sox fans prepare to celebrate Opening Day at Fenway Park.  I’ll just put on a disguise and maybe I’ll fit right in as I talk with the locals…

Okay, maybe I should tone it down just a little…

nymag.com

I know, I’ll just go incognito…

I am looking forward to seeing the sights of Boston as I take my morning jog…

 

I am sure that the people of Boston are warm and friendly to visiting Yankees fans…

 

Would they take it as a compliment if I said, “Oh, that’s Fenway Park?  It’s almost as nice as Yankee Stadium!”?

Would they mind if I said that Manny Ramirez was my favorite Red Sox player?

 

 

Would it be okay if I wore my Bucky Dent t-shirt?

 

Hmmm, how many World Championships do the Red Sox have compared to the Yankees?

Oh, by the way, how did the Patriots fare with that perfect season?

 

There’s been a few references to “Sox-tober” but isn’t that when the Red Sox players are scheduled to begin their early vacation?  Just wondering… 

Seriously, I am looking forward to the journey to Boston.  It’s a place that I’ve always wanted to visit.  I promise not to brag about the Yankees while I am there…well, not too much

FIRST WORKOUT AT YANKEE STADIUM

The Yankees held their first workout at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.  The players were in awe of the new digs, and it promises to be a thrilling weekend in the Bronx as the Yankees play the Chicago Cubs in a two-game exhibition series.

Thursday’s experience left players and fans alike in complete awe of the new Stadium.

Tim Scheld/WFAN

Peter Abraham’s LoHud Yankees Blog has some great details regarding the first day of the new Yankee Stadium.  Also, check out the Daily News.

BEARS GET CUTLER

I know that is not a football blog, but I’m mad.  I am mad that the Vikings made no apparent attempt to acquire Jay Cutler and I’m mad that Cutler was traded to the division rival Chicago Bears.  I agree that the Bears paid a very high price for Cutler (QB Kyle Orton, two first round picks and a third round pick).

Lecka/Getty 

I cannot say that I would have wanted the Vikings to give up that much, but they didn’t even try to get into the game and that bothered me.  I don’t want the team to make a foolish trade.  When they acquired Herschel Walker, they were a player or two shy of being a Super Bowl contender (like they are now).  But the trade backfired and the bounty propelled the Dallas Cowboys to a few Super Bowl Championships.  So, I understand the need to be conservative.

 

However, the Vikings have done nothing this off-season, in my opinion, to strengthen the team.  It has been more about try to keep the status quo.  Unfortunately, that won’t translate into a championship.  I am rapidly becoming an anti-fan of Head Coach Brad Childress.  I am not ready to throw him into the Les Steckel category, but he’s perilously close.  I miss Mike Tice today more than I ever have…

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

FINALLY

I’m happy again…I’m headed to Boston…

Enjoy your weekend!

P. S.  I still don’t like this guy…

Another Yankees Championship!…

The Yankees win the Grapefruit League Championship!

 

Getty Images 

Break open the champagne!

 

Bring on the lights and cameras!

Derek Jeter 

Let the party begin!

 

What?  You mean the games don’t count?  Are you telling me that the Yankees are champions of games that mean absolutely nothing? 

Bummer.

Oh well, it’s good momentum to take to Baltimore after the brief trip home to face the Chicago Cubs for two exhibition games at the new stadium. 

Speaking of the Cubs, it’s appropriate that Lou Piniella will be the opposing manager and the Cubs starting pitcher for Friday night will be Ted Lilly.  And, of course, Alfonso Soriano will be there.  It’s a great way to introduce America to the new Stadium!

BAD TRADE REVISITED

The Yankees beat the Phillies yesterday 8-5 to secure the best record in the Grapefruit League. 

The Phillies losing pitcher was 21-year-old Kyle Drabek. 

Jerry Hale/MLB.com

That brought back memories of one of the Yankees bad trades.  After the 1986 season, the Yankees traded Kyle’s father, Doug, to the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with Brian Fisher and Logan Easley, for Rick Rhoden, Cecilio Guante, and Tyrone Slothrop. 

It’s no wonder the late 80’s were not happy times for Yankees fans.

IS HE RETIRED OR NOT?

Reports circulated yesterday that Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard had retired.  However, according to the Yankees, those reports were inaccurate.  It remains to be seen if Sheppard’s health will improve enough to allow his return, but at least there’s still hope.  It would be great if he could make at least one final return to the new Stadium.

Bob Sheppard in 1951/Daily News

THE ROSTER

Regardless of who wins the Yankees utility infield role (Angel Berroa or Ramiro Pena), the Yankees will have to clear room on the 40-man roster.  Therefore, someone will be moved soon.  I am not expecting any major transactions, or any attempts to find a better third base option. 

Congratulations to Brett Gardner for winning this year’s James P. Dawson Award as the best rookie in Yankees camp.  But, of course, given how much he played at the end of last season, it doesn’t seem like he should still be classified as a “rookie” (even though technically he is). 

Finally, I was sad to see Megan Joy go on American Idol last night.  I realize she wasn’t as talented as Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey or Lil Rounds, but I liked her quirkiness and unique style of singing (sorry for the non-baseball comment)…

 

Oh yeah, one more thing, Julia of Julia’s Rants nailed me with her April Fool’s gag yesterday.  Nice, but just remember, the Showdown resumes in three weeks!  Game on, my friend!

–Scott

 

 

 

Turn the Heat Up…

Well, after the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds in their final Grapefruit League road game, I owe an apology to Joba Chamberlain for the wiffle ball comment that I made in my last blog.  

 

Joba sparkled yesterday, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks.  He struck out 6.  But the greater stat, in my perspective, was the increased velocity on his pitches (speeds of up to 96 mph). 

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Both Joba and Andy Pettitte have shown that the back end of the rotation is just fine. 

 

I have seen reports that A.J. Burnett has proven to be a good mentor for Joba this spring.  I am glad to see A.J. take the leadership responsibility, and I think he has much wisdom to offer based on his own experiences as he has learned to become a true pitcher instead of just a hard thrower.  

 

Joba is in Lancaster County, Nebraska today for his arraignment on last fall’s drunken-driving charge.  One thing’s for sure, Joba will hold only himself accountable and he can be depended upon to make the best of a bad situation.  He’s a ‘stand up’ guy, and that’s certainly one quality that has earned my respect.  

 

THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM WON’T BE “OFFICIAL” UNTIL…

 

Until these familiar words flow through the loudspeakers, the new Yankee Stadium cannot be truly christened…

 

“Good evening…ladies and gentlemen…and welcome…to Yankee Stadium”

 

 

Newsday

 

Unfortunately, long-time Yankees public-address announcer Bob Sheppard, who is in his late 90’s, will miss the exhibition games with the Chicago Cubs on April 3rd and 4th, and Opening Day on April 16th against the Cleveland Indians.  

 

He is still recovering from the bronchial infection that sidelined him for most of last season.  His wife indicated that he does not currently have the necessary stamina and was advised against working by his physician.  She stated that a warmer mid-season return was more likely.  Until then, Paul Olden will handle the duties. 

 

It is hard to believe that Sheppard has been the public-address announcer since 1951.  His first game was April 17, 1951.  The Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 4-0, that day.  The combined lineups featured seven Hall of Famers:  Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Ted Williams, and Lou Boudreau.  It was also Mickey’s first game (he went 1-for-4), and the beginning of the Yankee Clipper’s final season.  

 

Here’s hoping for a full recovery and a triumphant return to the new Stadium by Mr. Sheppard…

 

 

ODDS & ENDS…

 

Jonathan Albaladejo has made the final Yankees roster, which means that Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, and Dan Giese are headed for Scranton.  Tomko was very disappointed as he felt that he had pitched well enough to make the roster.  True, but Joe Girardi obviously feels that the club is stronger with Albaladejo.  

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The last roster decision is the infield utility role, which has become a competitive battle between Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena.  Unless the Yankees decide to go outside of the organization for a last-minute choice, I fully expect Pena to be announced as the victor.  But the #90 jersey has to go!  Just kidding.  I know that he’ll be re-assigned a more “reasonable” number if he makes the roster.  

 

I was glad to see that former Yankee Nick Green has won Boston’s infield utility role (well, at least until Julio Lugo returns).  

 

 

I was surprised by the Detroit Tigers decision to release Gary Sheffield.  The Phillies were almost immediately mentioned as a possible destination, but Sheffield is better suited for the American League as a designated hitter.  The Rays have also been mentioned.  Considering that his next home run will be number 500, there should be some good early season drama.  That’s okay, but can we put Sheffield on mute?…

 

Mike Carlson/AP

 

Warning:  I am getting ready to make some non-baseball related comments so please feel free to bail from this blog…

 

What took John Calipari so long to say yes to the University of Kentucky’s $31.65 million offer to become head coach of the school’s basketball team?  Geesh!  $32 mil at one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country.  What’s to think about?…

 

Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress is really scaring me now.  He has made comments that he is satisfied with the current quarterbacks on the roster (primarily Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels).  Fine, but calling Sage “a younger Gus Frerotte” is not a good thing!  No offense to Gus, but c’mon…we need more than the next Gus Frerotte.  The Vikings have shown no interest in Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, but of course, you never know if that’s truly because there is legitimately no interest or if it is simply posturing in the event of a trade so that the team doesn’t appear to be desperate.  Now that the Broncos have indicated they will trade Cutler after an inability to communicate with him for 10 days, it will be interesting to see what transpires.  I am not saying the Vikings need to pull the trigger, but they need to get in the game…

 

Have a happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!

 

  

 

–Scott

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