July 2009

Hey Julia, Thanks for the Rose-Colored Glasses…

 

To borrow a friend‘s words, it was a game that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside… – SMILE! 

http://fineartamerica.com/watermark.html?id=438664

Courtesy http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

 

While she (aka Julia) was referring to the last time the Red Sox won, they seem so appropriate for the last two Red Sox games (both losses to the Oakland A’s).  Julia, if you didn’t notice, we won our series against the A’s.  What’s the problem?  ;)

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

To Boston’s defense, they tried to come back in both games, but as the saying goes, too little…too late…

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

In tonight’s game, the A’s had leads of 5-0 and 8-3, before the Red Sox chipped away and brought themselves within 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th.  Representing the tying run, J.D. Drew grounded out to end the game.  The night before, the Sox had a 6-2 lead, but it vanished, thanks primarily to several throwing errors in the 9th and the Sox were defeated 9-8 in 11 innings.  The A’s had scored 2 runs in the top of the frame, but the Sox added a run in the bottom of 11th before Dustin Pedroia ended the game with a fly out.

Of course, it makes for a very happy Yankees fan since the Bronx Bombers are now 3 ½ games up on the Red Sox in the AL East Standings.  Plus, they picked up a game on the Tampa Bay Rays by virtue of taking 2 of 3 during the past three days.  Life is good…

 

 

Without a game by game breakdown, the Yankees dominated the Rays with pitching.  Of course, the lone subpar pitching performance belonged to CC Sabathia who lost on Tuesday night.  I don’t need to read the headlines or the box score when CC pitches and I didn’t watch the game, I just look for the game photos.  If CC has a hand to his face, it means he was saddled with another “L”. 

Mike Carlson/AP 

 

A.J. Burnett has continued to pitch like the ace that he is.  Since the Boston series in early June, he has been the premier pitcher of the staff.  Joba Chamberlain, tonight’s winner, has been the top tier pitcher as advertised since the All-Star Break.  In 21 2/3 innings since the All-Star Break, Joba has only given up 2 runs and has 19 strikeouts.  I guess he’s been paying attention to Phil Hughes.  Seriously, if he continues to pitch like this, the Yankees will definitely be playing games in October.

Mike Carlson/AP 

 

The warts that were revealed in the Rays series is that Brian Bruney cannot be trusted in the 8th inning…at least not yet.  Also, Nick Swisher’s fielding leaves much to be desired and he is definitely not the right guy for a full-time right field responsibility…regardless of how much I like the dude and how much his personality has meant to the 2009 Yankees.  The last concern, that I have, is center field support for Melky Cabrera while Brett Gardner is out.  I keep thinking that Austin Jackson would be the perfect guy to call up from AAA Scranton, but then again, I really feel that Shelley Duncan deserves another shot.  Brian Cashman has a tough job with difficult decisions, I am glad that he is receiving the Steinbrenners’ money and not me.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

OFF TOPIC COMMENTS

So, Brett Favre has decided to hang up the cleats, huh?  I have to admit that I had mixed feelings.  As much as I publicly voiced my opposition, there was a part of me that wanted to see the former Packers rival suit up in purple and gold.  I am not 100% sold on Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, and I think the Vikings have a great window of opportunity this season.  Unlike the Patriots or the Steelers or even the Cowboys, the Vikings will not have the sustainability to remain Super Bowl contenders.  When I was a kid, I took the Vikings’ repeated appearances in the Super Bowl for granted.  I thought that it would only be a matter of time before there was a ticker tape parade in Minneapolis.  Unfortunately, that day has never come.  Years ago, I made a bet with my uncle, a devout Chiefs fan.  We bet $10 (hey, I was only a teenager, c’mon!) regarding whether the Vikings or the Chiefs would win the Super Bowl first.  If neither team made it that year, we’d add 0.50 cents to the pot each year.  So, this year’s pot is a ******** $26!  So, perhaps Brett Favre has cost me the price of a half a tank of gas!  LOL!  As a native Iowan, I would like to see Sage Rosenfels, a fellow Iowan, surge to the type of late season success that was enjoyed by former Viking QB Rich Gannon in his later years in Oakland.  I am also pulling for former USC QB John David Booty, who currently wears the #4 jersey that would have been taken by Favre.  But, I am not against T-Jack if he can show in training camp that he is the man.  I want to win, so that means I simply want the best guy for each position and QB is not exception.  I have to admit that had Favre came back, I had serious doubts about his ability to hold up for an entire season since he failed last year.  Obviously, Brett had the same doubts…

 

 

 

On my last blog I mentioned the Batting Stance Guy.  I was not familiar with him until a recent appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.  Here is another video classic for my friend Julia: 

 

Maybe I Should Go Away More Often…

 

A great day for a birthday…

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Today is my birthday, and it couldn’t have had a happier ending than a Yankees win combined with a Red Sox loss.  All week, a certain blogger from Boston kept telling me that I couldn’t have a Red Sox loss for my birthday since she would be in attendance at Fenway Park.  Hey Julia, how did that work out for ya?  ;)

 

John Smoltz leaves the mound after...

AP

 

This is my first blog in a week so I don’t really plan to delve into breakdowns of the games that have been played since my last blog.  I recently took a job with a new company that allowed me to return home to Silicon Valley, California.  I had been in Wilmington, Delaware for the past year.  For the past week, I packed my belongings and drove across the country (3,000 miles in 3 ½ days).  Since the focus of the week was the move, I did not take my laptop with me and as a result, I have been silent on this blog for a week.

 

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In seven days while I’ve been gone, the Yankees lost only one game.   The Oakland A’s snapped the Yankees’ winning streak on Saturday, when Alfred Aceves failed to bail out Andy Pettitte.  It was the end of the Yankees eight game winning streak, as well as an eight game streak against the A’s dating back to 2008 (they had taken the first four games of the series this year).

 

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger 

 

Beating up the Tigers, Twins, and A’s has allowed the Yankees to extend their lead in the AL East to 2 ½ games over the Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees do have a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season, and it won’t get any easier with a 9-game road trip that begins in St. Petersburg, Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.  The Rays are currently in third place, 6 ½ games back.

 

0705rays12

Jason Behnken/Tampa Bay Tribune 

 

I have been pleasantly surprised about the Yankees’ success so far in the second half of the season.  Admittedly, I was down after the Yankees had been swept by the Los Angeles Angels to close out the first half.  Prior to that series, the Yankees had tied Boston for the AL East lead.  While the Yanks were getting swept, Boston was doing their own sweeping so the first half closed with a three game Boston lead.  But as quickly as the Yanks went from a first place tie to three games back, they surged back to overtake Boston with only one loss since the All-Star Game.  I suspect that the lead will change hands a few more times before this is all said and done, but it is nice to see the Yankees reach 60 wins faster than any other AL team at this point in the season.

 

Christopher Pasatieri/US Presswire 

The news regarding Chien-Ming Wang has not been good.  He will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.  Wang had a second MRI last week, according to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, and it revealed a possible rotator cuff tear.  If it is not a scar from Wang’s prior surgery in 2000, and has rotator cuff surgery, he will be lost for most, if not all, of next season.

 

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

I do not think that Sergio Mitre is the answer in the rotation, and apparently neither do the Yankees.  According to Jenifer Logosch at MLB.com, the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Ian Snell pitch.  Snell struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season, going 2-8 in 15 starts, with 5.36 ERA.  He was demoted to AAA Indianapolis and has pitched lights out.  In four starts for Indy, Snell has pitched 26 1/3 innings with a 0.34 ERA and 34 strikeouts.  Snell apparently has no interest in rejoining the Pirates, and feels that he was made a scapegoat for their early season problems.  I am not sure if Snell is the answer or if his AAA success can equate to Major League success after past difficulties, but, for the right price, he is probably worth trying.  I’d rather go there before taking a chance with Kei Igawa.  I read that the Seattle Mariners wanted both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for Jarrod Washburn, so there’s no way that deal is happening unless the Mariners drop their asking price.  The Yankees won’t be contenders for either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, so they’ll continue to rummage through the bargain bins over the next couple of days as they continue to seek possible replacements for Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation.

 

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Speaking of Brett Gardner, he landed on the DL after suffering a fractured thumb in the first inning of Saturday’s game.  Of course, in that game, he had a run-scoring triple and played excellent defensively AFTER the thumb injury.  He is a huge loss for the team, but hopefully he’ll be out no more than three weeks or so.  I hope that Melky Cabrera maintains a high level of play during Gardner’s absence, and doesn’t lose any motivation or ambition without Gardner competing with him every day.  Hopefully, Gardner’s recovery will be as speedy as he is on the base paths…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

Boston has a chance to make up ground on the Yankees during the upcoming 9-game road trip, but I have to admit that I am very shocked that John Smoltz is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA.  I liked Boston’s pick up of Adam LaRoche (well, not as a Yankees fan, but looking at the trade objectively and knowing what it means for the Red Sox).  Of course, with Theo Epstein, you know that the next few days will be very interesting as Boston continues to seek upgrades.

 

A look back at Theo Epstein's first season with the Red Sox -- 2003

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

I am sure that most people have become familiar with Batting Stance Guy but I wasn’t.  I saw him on David Letterman this week and he was hilarious (his impression of Kevin Youkilis is priceless).  You can check him out at www.battingstanceguy.com.  His posts can also be found on YouTube.  Here is his impression of the 2009 Yankees:

 

 

As much as I will miss the close proximity to Yankee Stadium, I am looking forward to my first visit to AT&T Park this year when I attend next Sunday’s match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.  After a year in Phillies country, I am excited about the opportunity to watch Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, J-Ro, and the other Phillies without being surrounded by those “calm and quiet” Philadelphia fans!  Seriously, there aren’t many things better than watching baseball near the Bay…

 

 

Have a great week!

–Scott

 

Good Pitching beats Good Hitting, or so they say…

 

Starting the second half on the right foot…

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Two games and two wins for the New York Yankees since the All-Star break.  It is definitely the way to start the second half.  With the two wins, the Yankees have closed the gap to two games behind AL East Leader Boston.

 


 

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Friday night, the Yankees defeated the Detroit Tigers, 5-3, at Yankee Stadium behind a 7th inning blast by Mark Teixeira.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger 

 

Although he only gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, A.J. Burnett was off his game with five walks and six hits.  Nevertheless, he kept the Yankees in the game and Teixeira put the Yanks ahead with his first Yankee Stadium homer since June 12th.  Burnett didn’t get the win, but I credit him for battling.  After the game, he said that it felt like he had thrown 200 pitches (it was only 104).

 

A.J. Burnett.

Keivom/New York Daily News 

 

With a three-run homer in rainstorm off Joel Zumaya, Teixeira rallied the Yanks from a 3-2 deficit and made a winner of Phil Hughes.  Hughes, in contrast to Burnett, was nothing short of perfect.  He has excelled as the set up guy for Mariano Rivera, and has made it very difficult for the Yanks to consider putting him in the rotation in 2010.  Friday’s night performance was two innings with six strikeouts.  That’s sick.  He did give up three hits, but none scored.  In fact, he hasn’t given up a run in 15 2/3 innings, and his ERA as a reliever is currently 0.89.  The calls of ‘Joba to Pen’ seem to have died down as Hughes has exhibited his dominance.  And, oh yeah, Mariano Rivera picked up his 24th save.  The back-end of the Yankee bullpen is as good as it has been in many years. 

 

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press 

 

Saturday, the Yankees continued their winning ways behind CC Sabathia.  For the second game in a row, a timely 7th inning home run was key.  This time, it was Alex Rodriguez who broke the scoreless tie with a solo homer off Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger 

 

The Yanks added an insurance run on a RBI single by Melky Cabrera.  It was a hit that normally would have been cleanly field by Tigers shortstop Adam Everett, but Nick Swisher, running from second to third, danced through the ball and it may have momentarily distracted Everett, allowing Cabrera to reach first with two outs and scoring Robinson Cano from third. 

Former Yank Marcus Thames hit a solo shot in the top of the 8th off Alfredo Aceves, but that would be as close as Detroit could get.  By the 9th, it was Mariano Rivera time and he retired the side for his 25th save.

 

 

 

While Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, they fell today, 6-2.  The loss allowed the Yankees to close the gap to two games.  Roy Halladay will be on the mound Sunday as the Jays attempt to win their first series against Boston in six tries.  Good luck, Doc!  The only thing we’d enjoy more than seeing you in pinstripes is a ‘W’ by your name in a box score for a game played at Fenway Park.

 

Reuters

 

Has it really been ten years since David Cone threw his perfect game?  Wow.  That’s hard to believe.  Coney was always one of my favorite Yankees because of his huge heart.  It was hard to see him pitch for the Red Sox at the end of his career, but Cone was a huge part of the Yankees championship run in the late 90’s and his efforts will not be soon forgotten.

 

David Cone throws out ceremonial first pitch to celebrate anniversary of his perfect game.

Simmons/New York Daily News

Reuters

 

He may not win the championship, but I am very pleased to see Tom Watson atop the leader board at the British Open.  Watson, a five-time winner of the British Open, last won in 1983.  To put it in perspective, this was the Yankees lineup on July 17, 1983:

Bert Campaneris, 3B

Larry Milbourne, 2B

Dave Winfield, LF

Lou Piniella, RF

Don Baylor, DH

Steve Balboni, 1B

Rick Cerone, C

Jerry Mumphrey, CF

Andre Robertson, SS

 

The starting pitcher was Matt Keough.  The Yankees won the game against the Texas Rangers that day, 8-6.  Some guy named Don Mattingly subbed for Balboni at first late in the game…

 

Best of luck to Tom Watson, and hopefully he’ll become a six-time British Open champion tomorrow!  It’s highly improbable but stranger things have happened…like the Red Sox winning World Series championships…

 

And now the five-time Open winner stands just 18 holes away from one of the greatest achievements in golf history.

Cannon/Getty

 

Speaking of the Red Sox, a friend was recently doing his best to “flush” the Red Sox dominance over the Yankees this season.  I think it just might work!

 

Posted on YouTube by nsayer

 

Hey Julia, we only have to be three games better than you now!  Perhaps the Yankees can give me first place for my birthday!  J

 

dent.jpg image by smoothjazzandmore

 

This is my final blog for a week.  I am moving cross country, so I’ll be unable to post any new blogs until the move is completed.  So, I’ll leave you with this great YouTube post by purvis1031.  Hey Julia, we’re coming for you (the Red Sox)!  Four games at Yankee Stadium beginning on Thursday, August 6th…game on, my friend!  This time it is you that will be wearing the pink NYY hat!    

 

Posted on YouTube by Purvis1031

 

P.S.  Is Mike Mussina really going to play in the Old-Timers Game?  Okay, now I really feel old…

 

 

–Scott

Ready, Set, Go!…

 

A rare off day…

 

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The Yankees have an extra day of rest before they embark on the second half of the season.  Hopefully, it will give them the necessary distance from last weekend’s debacle in Anaheim.  Of course, it doesn’t get any easier as the Detroit Tigers invade Yankee Stadium.  But with a little pitching, a little hitting, a little fielding, and a whole lot of hustle, I’ll take my chances…

 

 

The Yankees deal with 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Damian Arredondo was voided by the league when they found out that he wasn’t 16 and his name is not Damian Arredondo.  Sure, the league saved the Yankees over $800,000, but I would have thought that the Yankees would have done a little due diligence before signing the alleged “prospect”…

 

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So, the Boston Red Sox are “desperately” seeking to trade Julio Lugo?  I guess they have been listening to that ranter in Boston.  Hopefully, they didn’t get her message about Jason Bay…

 

AP

 

I am surprised, but Derek Jeter is building a monster mansion on Davis Islands in Florida (not far from downtown Tampa).  The square footage per the county is 30,875.  The home has 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.  According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, the average Best Buy store has 39,700 square feet (to put it in perspective).  The home is on Bahama Circle, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.  I want to be Derek Jeter when I grew up!  ;)

 

Derek Jeter house

Richard Mullins/Tampa Bay Tribune

 

According to the Associated Press, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner spent three hours at his office in the Tampa spring training complex.  He reportedly said that he is doing well.  Hopefully, he is putting the finishing touches on that deal for Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay…

 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

 

Apparently, Brett Favre has set a deadline of July 30th to decide if he’ll play for the Minnesota Vikings this fall.  The date is when the Vikings open camp.  The Star Tribune has created The Brett Favre Page to track the developments between now and Favre’s imposed deadline.  At this point, I have to believe that we’ll see #4 in purple when the team reports to Mankato.  I guess that means Erin is going to become a Bears fan…  ;(

 

Brett Favre

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

 

Let the second half begin!…

 

 

Neil Shapiro 

Bad Finish to a Good First Half…

 

I knew it was going to be a bad weekend, and it was…

 

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I didn’t feel right about the Yankees’ series against the Angels.  I was excited about the Yankees reaching a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox following their sweep of the Minnesota Twins last week, but I had suspected that they’d lose some ground over the weekend.  I just didn’t expect that it would be a three game fall. 


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Of course, it didn’t help that the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals.  Why couldn’t the schedule gods have pitted a more difficult opponent for Boston as their first half ending opponent?  There is no doubt that Julia is proclaiming 3 as her new favorite number…

 

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My concerns heading into the second half include:

Starting rotation. 

The only reliable spot, as of late, has been A.J. Burnett.

 

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CC Sabathia has been a disappointment in terms of expectations in light of the monster off-season contract.  For the amount he’s paid, you’d expect his performance to more close resemble the performances of Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett. 

Joba Chamberlain has been an enigma.  You keep hearing comments that he is still learning the ropes, but how long is that going to continue? 

Andy Pettitte probably should have retired last fall. 

Chien-Ming Wang is on the DL, and has clearly been a major disappointment.  It is very likely that the Yankees rotation will include Sergio Mitre. 

As much as I’d like Roy Halladay in the rotation, I do not feel that the Yankees should give up the young talent it would take to pull off a deal.  Almost any trade would certainly include Phil Hughes, and other blue chip prospects.  That’s just not worth it for a 32-year-old pitcher.  Of the other possibilities, there really isn’t much to get excited about (Jarrod Washburn?), so it appears that the Yankees will have to find the answers to the starting rotation from within.

Bullpen.

Phil Hughes has proven that he is the answer for the bridge between Mariano Rivera and the rest of the guys.  He has been very effective as a set up guy, but of course, the question is whether he’ll continue his progress in the second half.

 

Paul J. Berewill/Newsday 

 

Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves have been effective, but I am concerned about Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte.  I still believe that Marte can return to his previous status as a premier left handed reliever, so hopefully, he’ll be much improved upon his return from the DL. 

I would like to see the team find an upgrade for Brett Tomko.

I am supportive of David Robertson and Mark Melancon and would like to see them contribute in the second half.

And then there’s Mo…life is good…

 

McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Catcher

Health is the key for Jorge Posada.  He has performed very well, considering his age and despite the time on the DL. 

The Yankees learned they may have something with young catcher Francisco Cervelli, who provided much energy and excitement during Jose Molina’s stint on the DL.  Plus, further help is on the way with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.  So, while there are short-term concerns about the catching position, the long-term prognosis is very bright. 

I think Posada will enjoy a productive and injury-free second half.

 

The Yankees and the Mets may fight it out for Jorge Posada.

Kathy Willens/AP

 

First Base

Defensively-speaking, Mark Teixeira has provided the best performance the position has seen since the days of Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez.  The bat has been very hot and cold.  The month of April was very chilly, but Teixera’s bat heated up once A-Rod returned in early May.  Mark cooled off in late June and early July, and must have missed the flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles because he was a no-show during the Angel series.  Not really, but that’s what it felt like.  So, my wish for the second half is more consistency…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

Second Base

The curious case of the missing bat.  Robinson Cano is another player who ran ice cold at times.  I know that players go through streaks, but again, consistency is the key.  I’d rather see someone who is consistently productive than someone who had have a monster three weeks, followed by six weeks of swinging for air.

 

 

 

Shortstop

Derek Jeter is playing better than I had expected him to.  He is definitely outperforming his 2008 version, and hasn’t shown any signs of decline.  He still makes the occasional error at the most inopportune time, but he’s been very solid so far this year.  More of the same in the second half will be much appreciated.

 

 

Third Base

Considering that he had hip surgery in March and didn’t resume playing until May, I thought A-Rod had a very productive first half.  Watching Mike Lowell struggle with hip issues shows how difficult it is to come back from hip surgery, so I have to give A-Rod much credit.  There have been times that I’ve been frustrated by his bat, but c’mon, if I had hip surgery in March, I’d probably still be in the hospital in critical condition.  LOL!  Seriously, my primary hope for the second half is continued good health with sufficient rest and full protection for Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

 

Newscom

 

Outfield

Health is the key for veterans Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.  Ideally, the second half will see Matsui being able to play some outfield to free up the DH slot for Jorge Posada or Alex Rodriguez. 

Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera have both shined at various point of the first half, so continued progress for both would be key for the stretch drive.

 

George McNish/The Star Ledger

 

Nick Swisher has performed capably, but of course, he is still a downgrade from last year’s starter, Bobby Abreu, and he isn’t that player that Xavier Nady is/was.  Perhaps Eric Hinske will see more time in the outfield.

While I’d like to see an upgrade for the outfield, I really do not see a major trade bringing someone like Matt Holliday to New York.

Conclusion

In years past, when the Yankees have said that they’d be quiet at the trading deadline, I have taken it as “trade posturing”.  This year, I do believe that the Yanks are attempting to operate within a budget (imagine that!) and no major moves are likely.  The team will go as far as the current roster takes them.  Perhaps a few second half surprises will come from the resources at Scranton/Wilkes Barre or Trenton.  But this team is going to win or lose with Joe Girardi at the helm.  I do see greater consistency from the big guys like CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, but it probably won’t be enough to overtake Boston.

Nevertheless, the Yankees are in control of the AL Wild Card (they lead by 2 ½ games over the Texas Rangers).  They have a 51-37 record.  Despite the weekend disaster, they are still only 3 games behind Boston.  They clearly have the talent to remain in the mix until the end.  Is it enough to beat the Red Sox or Angels?  At this point, probably not, but there are still three months left in the season.  Much can happen, and the Yankees have plenty of time to overcome their “demons”, i.e., Angels and Red Sox.  No worries, well, unless you are Joe Girardi…

 

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Best wishes for a highly successful second half to the New York Yankees!  May they be four games better than the Boston Red Sox come October!  J

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

After all, it’s a Yankees Universe!

 

Derailed in Anaheim…

 

Unfortunately, I saw it coming…

 

 

I knew that the Yankees tie with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night was going to be short-lived.  For whatever reason, the Yankees cannot beat the Los Angeles Angels, and last night’s game was further evidence.

 

Rose Palmisano/Orange County Register 

 

Joba Chamberlain had 5-1 lead in the fifth inning when the wheels came off.  The crushing blow was a three-run home run by Kendry Morales that tied the game.

 

Rose Palmisano/The Orange County Register 

 

The Angels proceeded to score five more runs in the 6th and 7th innings (against Mark Melancon and Brian Bruney) to pull away.   The Angels won the game, 10-6.

 

Mark J. Terrill/AP

 

Earlier in the evening, the Boston Red Sox had defeated the Kansas City Royals, 1-0, so the first place tie quickly evaporated into a one game deficit (I know, Julia is lovin’ every minute of it!).

 

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (second from right) and his Red Sox teammates celebrate the victory.

Barry Chin/Boston Globe 

Alex Rodriguez did hit his 568th home run to pull within one of Rafael Palmeiro for 10th place on the All-Time HR List.  But his error in the fifth did not help anybody…well, except for the Angels…

 

 

 

Joe Girardi keeps talking about Joba’s inexperience and youth as reasons for his struggles, but it is really up to Joba to decide if he wants to be a frontline starter.  The excuses from Girardi are getting kind of old…

“I don’t expect him to be perfect, I don’t. He’s probably got about 30 starts under his belt in the big leagues. That’s not a ton of starts”, Girardi said after the game.  “You can’t just focus on this kid. We had other chances to win this game and we didn’t do it.”

 

Avery/Reuters

 

The Yankees continue their series against the Angels.  I wish I could say that I am confident, but unfortunately, I am not.  Andy Pettitte pitches today, and of course, he has been consistently inconsistent this season.  There was a time when Andy could be counted on to follow a loss with a win, but those times have long since passed.  I am definitely a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of guy today… 

 

 

 

Congratulations to…

Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants, for throwing the first no-hitter of the 2009 season against the San Diego Padres.  An error by Juan Uribe cost Sanchez a perfect game, but he was absolutely outstanding in the 8-0 victory.  He had 11 strikeouts as a replacement starter for Randy Johnson who was earlier placed on the DL.   Sanchez has been mentioned as possible trade bait, so the no-hitter will certainly enhance the Giants’ ability to get quality in return.  Nick Johnson anyone?

 

Jonathan Sanchez is mobbed by his teammates after strikin... (Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle)

Liz Halafia/San Francisco Chronicle

 

Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JSOnline)

 

With a home run in last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Manny tied Mickey Mantle for 15th place on the All-Time HR List with 536 home runs.  It is sad to see the Mick soon fall out of the Top 15, and eventually the Top 20…

 

 

Angel Berroa, who was released by the Yankees last week, for signing a minor league deal with the New York Mets.  Good luck with that…

 

 

Alex Rodriguez, who moments ago homered in today’s game against the Angels for his 569th home run, tying Rafael Palmeiro for 10th Place.  The Yankees have a very early 2-0 lead.  Next stop, Harmon Killebrew at 573 home runs…

 

 

 

Return of the Nemesis…

 

It may be brief, but the view from the top is magnificent…

 

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After tonight’s games, the Yankees may or may not be in first place, but at least they started the day that way.  Of course, the last time I was excited about this was at the start of the last series with the Boston Red Sox.  That didn’t end so well for me, and a pink hat and a Red Sox shirt later; the Yanks were back chasing the Sox in the standings.

 

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Once again, thanks to a series sweep of the Minnesota Twins, combined with a Red Sox loss last night, the Yankees were once again tied atop the AL East Standings with Boston (despite the 0-8 mark against same).

 

 

Associated Press

 

The Yankees open a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim tonight.  Of all the teams I want to face right now, the Angels aren’t one of them.  For whatever reason, the Yankees have historically not done very well against the Angels.  I don’t know the exact stats off the top of my head, but it seems that the team loses more than it wins against those pesky Halos.  I’d like to say that this dates back to the 2002 play-offs, but it has been much longer than that.  I remember teams with Bobby Grich, Rod Carew, and Reggie Jackson giving the Yankees fits.

 

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You can’t say that the Angels’ mastery over the Yankees is because the team doesn’t match up very well against the Angels.  If you compare the starters of Game 4 of the 2002 American League Division Series in Anaheim on October 5, 2002, only Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada remain with their original team (you could consider Juan Rivera but he has switched sides). The Yankees lost that night, 9-5, effectively ending the Yankees’ most recent World Series run.  But despite the roster turnover, the Angels’ domination continues.

 

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I wish I understood the reason, but the Yankees did to figure out the Angels if they want a chance to return to the World Series.

 

 

 

I know, they also need to figure out Baltimore and Boston.  But one thing’s for sure, they know Minnesota!

 

 

For the record, the Red Sox won tonight, so pending the Yankees game against the Angels (which starts shortly), the Sox are up by a ½ game.  Why is it that Boston gets the Royals while the Yankees get the Angels?  It’s so not fair!  ;)

 

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I thought the New York Mets’ acquisition of Jeff Francoeur from the Atlanta Braves for Ryan Church was a solid move.  I realize that Francoeur has struggled the last couple of years, but I still think that the “light bulb” will eventually come on and he’ll be every bit the productive player that he showed in Atlanta when he first came up.

 

 

 

I still think that there’s no way that either the Red Sox or the Yankees will trade for Roy Halladay.  Both teams have done such a great job protecting their young talent in recent years, and it would “break the bank” to bring Doc to Boston or New York.  They’ve mentioned the Philadelphia Phillies as the front-runner and I agree with that, or perhaps the St. Louis Cardinals.  I’d like to see the San Francisco Giants become a player but I don’t think they have what it takes to make a deal.  A starting rotation led by Tim Lincecum and Halladay would be incredible, and would definitely be a major roadblock in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ attempt to crush the NL West.

 

Tim Lincecum picked up his 10th win Thursday and took his... (Tony Avelar / AP)

Tony Avelar/AP

 

Luc Leclerc/US Presswire 

 

I am definitely in agreement that the question is ‘when’ Brett Favre joins the Minnesota Vikings, not ‘if’.  He has apparently placed a $30,000 deposit on a condo in Edina, Minnesota.  I am sure that he didn’t do it just so he could go ice fishing this winter.  The Vikings’ single-game tickets go on sale July 20th, so an announcement could be forthcoming prior to that date.  I don’t think it is the right move and I think that Vikings coach Brad Childress will be forced to play Favre the entire season regardless of how he performs.  There would be   a huge stigma attached to the coach who “sat” Brett Favre.  It’s really shaping up to be a ‘lose-lose’ scenario…

 

 

Well, it’s time to go check in to see how Mr. Chamberlain is doing…

 

 

–Scott

 

No Competition for Wakefield…

 

So much for quality starting pitching to rival Boston’s staff…

 

Matthew West/Boston Herald

 

There was a time this season where you could trust the starters, but had to worry about the bullpen.  My, how times changed!   Suddenly, Joba Chamberlain has become the starting rotation’s version of Jose Veras, and Andy Pettitte is its Damaso Marte.

 


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Sunday’s game turned out well (a win), but it was Joba’s worst outing yet.  He couldn’t get out of the 4th inning, and gave up 8 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk.  Fortunately, for Joba’s ERA, only 3 of the 8 runs were earned.  But games are won or lost on runs, earned or unearned, and Joba gave up a lot of them.  He threw 86 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, and failed in his 9th try to win at the new Yankee Stadium.  To me, Joba isn’t improving each time out and he is not even forcing the “to the pen” chants to percolate, but rather he looks like is auditioning for a possible future start in Scranton/Wilkes Barre or Trenton.

 


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The Yankees have been very fortunate for Alfredo Aceves to find his niche in long relief and prove he is the guy the Yankees have been seeking for years to replace Ramiro Mendoza.  Aceves’ four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief allowed the Yanks’ comeback to stand, as they beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-8.  Aceves picked up his first save of the season in relief of Jonathan Albaladejo, who picked up the win.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

All-Star starting shortstop Derek Jeter had four hits and delivered the key go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

Monday, on the other hand, did not turn out so well.  After a solid outing in his last start, Andy returned to his inconsistent ways.  By the top of the 7th inning, the Blue Jays had built a 7-1 lead against Pettitte and Brian Bruney.  Pettitte gave up 6 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings.  He walked 3 Toronto batters.

 

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger

 

The Yankees attempted to rally, scoring 5 runs over the final 3 innings.  However, with the tying run on first in the 9th inning, Eric Hinske struck out to end the game as the Yankees fell to the Jays, 7-6.  To Hinske’s defense, he had homered earlier in the game and also had several outstanding defensive plays in right.  So, the loss cannot be saddled on Hinske.  But Pettitte?  He gets full credit for this loss.  Well, Derek Jeter’s failed attempt to swipe third didn’t help.  Tag or no tag, it was a bad play on DJ’s part…

 

Yankees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reuters

 

I am definitely concerned about both Chamberlain and Pettitte, and both guys need to get it together.  With Chien-Ming Wang on the DL, the Yankees cannot afford for the only source of consistency to come from CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.  Plus, CC has not performed like the ace he is paid, so that places even more pressure on the back half of the rotation.

 


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When Girardi stretched Aceves out to four innings and let him close out Sunday’s game, I suspected that he was giving Aceves for length for a possible start.  Sure enough, Aceves will start on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins.  I was probably more in favor of bringing up Sergio Mitre, but if the Yankees feel that Wang will be back in a month, then perhaps Aceves is the best option.   But long-term, I’d hate to lose the long relief star. 

 

Pitcher Alfredo Aceves #91 of the New York Yankees throws against the Texas Rangers in the 9th inning on May 25, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Alfredo Aceves

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images 

 

Tonight, the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins, 10-2.  CC finally pitched like the ace he is, and he only gave up three hits and one run in 7 innings of work.  So, the streak of poor starting pitching is over.   Hopefully, Chamberlain and Pettitte will follow CC’s lead as we move into the second half of the season…

 

Mone/AP

 

In addition to Derek Jeter, the 2009 American League All-Stars will include Mark Teixeira at first base.  Mariano Rivera was among the pitchers selected.  Congratulations to DJ, Tex and Mo!

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Toronto Blue Jays have indicated that they’ll entertain offers for pitcher Roy Halladay, 32.  I’d be very surprised if the Jays dealt with either the Yankees or the Red Sox.  If they did, I am sure that the price would be significantly greater than what, say, the Philadelphia Phillies would have to pay.  But a note to Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi, if you receive a phone call from someone named Epstein with a 617 or 857 area code, don’t answer it.  It’s probably just an annoying sales call!  ;)

 

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It sounds like Francisco Cervelli is headed back to Scranton/Wilkes Barre, possibly tomorrow, to make room for the returning Jose Molina.  Bummer, I will definitely miss Cisco’s energy and hustle.  He had definitely made his mark on the team, and hopefully, he’ll be back sooner rather than later…

 

There is no love lost as the Yankees play their final series in the Metrodome.  The Twins will move to their new home, Target Field, in downtown Minneapolis next spring.  Now, if the Vikings could only figure out a way to get out of the Metrodome…

 

 

Sorry Julia, it’s still just one game…

 

 

–Scott

Easy Does It…

 

There might be something to this so-called “rest”…

 

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Of course, we all know how well Alex Rodriguez responded to some rest and relaxation.  Mark Teixeira has not had any rest, and of course, we’ve seen the results of that…

 

Reuters

 

The latest recipient of rest was catcher Jorge Posada who sat out a couple of games with a bruised thumb.  He was back in the lineup on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the results were, well, for the lack of a better word, very A-Rod-like.  On Sunday, in the 12th inning with the game tied at 5, Mark Teixeira doubled to open the bottom of the inning.  With first base open, Alex Rodriguez was intentionally walked.  Robinson Cano was up next, but true to form recently with men in scoring position, he failed to advance the runners as Tex was out on a fielder’s choice.  Jorge Posada came to the plate, and he ripped the third pitch to center, scoring A-Rod with the winning run.

 

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Posada had also homered earlier in the game, a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the 4th inning.

 

Sabo/NY Daily News

 

Chien-Ming Wang had pitched well through five innings.  When the 6th inning started, Wang was nursing a 3-2 lead over Yankee killer Roy Halladay and the Jays.  He had retired 10 of 11 Toronto batters at that point.  With Halladay, it’s like what it used to be with Pedro Martinez when he pitched in Boston, you just want to keep it close until you can get into the other team’s bullpen and then take your chances.  Unfortunately, disaster struck Wang in the 6th.  Marco Scutaro led off with a double.  After Aaron Hill had grounded out, Adam Lind homered to give the Jays a 4-3 lead.  He threw one pitch to the next batter, Scott Rolen, but Posada knew that something was wrong.  Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue came out to the mound, and Wang departed the game.  He was later diagnosed with a shoulder strain with bursitis, and had a MRI at a local hospital.

 

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger 

 

Wang was relieved by David Robertson.  Robertson ended up walking Rolen, and subsequently walked the next batter (Lyle Overbay) too.  After striking out Vernon Wells, Alex Rios singled to score Rolen.  David Dellucci flied out to end the inning, but Doc Halladay and the Rays had a two-run lead.

 

Luc Leclerc/US Presswire

Brian Bruney, currently out as the 8th inning bridge to Mariano Rivera until he begins pitching more effectively, opened the 7th inning.  The results were mixed but at least he held the Jays scoreless.  The first two batters singled.  A sacrifice moved the runners to second and third, and Adam Lind was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out.  Fortunately, Bruney retired Rolen and Overbay to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 7th, Derek Jeter singled and scored when Johnny Damon homered to tie the game.  That was definitely a huge hit at a very critical time.  I think I forgot to thank Julia for failing to re-sign Johnny…

IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees poses during Photo Day on February 19, 2009 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Johnny Damon

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Phil Hughes pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning, and further cemented his status as the set up guy in place of Bruney.  I would have liked to have seen Hughes pitch the 9th with the game still tied, but Girardi went with Mariano Rivera.  The bullpen continued its stellar performance of late with two scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th by Phil ‘Coke, and then Brett Tomko put the team in position to win by retiring the three batters he faced in the 12th.  Clearly, the Yankees won because of their bullpen.  Back in April, games were routinely lost because of the pen.  The reversal has been very dramatic and clearly the two Phils share the credit, along with the continued domination of ageless closer Mariano Rivera.  It doesn’t mean that I now trust Brett Tomko, but at least there is no longer any reason to dread the arrival of a Yankees reliever into a game.

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

A quick note on Robinson Cano…I am not quite sure what is wrong, but he was 0-for-6 and failed in several key spots.  For some reason, he has developed an aversion to hitting with men on base.  In the 12th inning, he missed a sign and bunted on a 3-0 pitch.  He caught everyone off guard, including Mark Teixeira who was standing on second.  He was thrown out at third by 20 feet.  “Let’s just say somebody missed something,” Girardi said. “A better way to explain is he misunderstood something.”  Cano left 10 men on base, 5 of whom were in scoring position.  In his first 5 at-bat’s, he ended the innings, including the 9th with runners at first and second.  I am starting to think that Julia swiped Robby and dropped Julio Lugo into his uniform!  ;)

 

 

The initial word is that Chien-Ming Wang is headed for the DL, and will be gone for about a month.  At this point, I do not think there’s any way that Phil Hughes would be re-inserted into the starting rotation.  Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog speculated that Sergio Mitre of AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre might be the choice, and I agree.  Mitre served a 50-game suspension earlier this season after testing positive for Androstendione (it was allegedly the result of an over the counter supplement purchased at GNC which contained an unlisted amount of the steroid).  Since his return, Mitre has pitched 30.1 innings and has compiled a 2-1 record in 5 starts with 3.26 ERA.  I’d definitely rather see him than Kei Igawa.

 

 

 

Backup catcher Jose Molina feels that he will be ready to rejoin the team on Tuesday in Minnesota.

 

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Wikimedia Commons

Sunday’s match up features Joba Chamberlain (4-2) versus Brett Cecil (2-1).  Cecil is a replacement for Scott Richmond, who was bumped because of a sore shoulder.  To me, it’s time for Joba Chamberlain to make a statement with a solid performance.

 

Gunn/AP

 

Today, in stadiums across the country, the words of Lou Gehrig filled the air in a day of remembrance.  70 years ago today, it was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium and the Iron Horse gave his immortal farewell speech:

 

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

 

This video is very fitting on a day when we remember Henry Louis Gehrig…

 

 

Posted on YouTube by kylethompson4

 

As the celebrity deaths continue, I was saddened to hear about the death of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair.  I remember when Air McNair was being drafted from college, and I had been so hopeful that the Vikings would draft him.  I can still remember the disappointment when he was drafted by the Titans.  I vividly remember that it was a cloudy day as I listened to the draft.  Hopefully, Steve’s killer will be found and brought to justice.

 

Damian Strohmeyer, SI/AP

 

In more uplifting news, congratulations to Serena Williams for her victory at Wimbledon over her sister, Venus.  I was pulling for Serena so it was enjoyable to see her win in two sets.

 

Hamish Blair/Getty Images

 

Now, if Roger Federer can beat Andy Roddick, it will be a GREAT tennis weekend at Wimbledon!

 

Tennis.com

 

I am in the process of relocating back to my home in Northern California so my posts in the coming days may be more sporadic than usual.  But rest assured that I will be back and at full strength by August when the Yankees face the Boston Red Sox.  Julia has been lulled into a false sense of security.  The Red Sox dominance over the Yankees will end, and we are now just one game behind her beloved boys from Beantown.  All things considered, life is good…

 

 

–Scott

 

It’s A Wonderful Day!…

 

Happy 4th of July!

 

 

The Yankees were victorious on Friday, thanks in large part to the generosity of the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees won the game, 4-2. 

Without a ball leaving the infield, the Yankees broke a 1-1 tie with the Jays in the 5th inning.  The first two batters (Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter) walked, and Johnny Damon hit a bunt single to load the bases.  Mark Teixeira was the beneficiary of the third walk of the inning, which scored Gardner.   After Alex Rodriguez hit into a fielder’s choice that took out Jeter at home, a passed ball by Jays catcher Raul Chavez allowed Damon to race home with their 2nd run of the inning.

The Jays’ Vernon Wells homered in the 6th to close the gap to 3-2, but that’s as close as they would get.  A.J. Burnett fared much better in his second start against his former team, going seven innings and allowing only six hits and two runs.  He walked only two batters, while striking out seven.  He also hit David Dellucci with a pitch, but the walks and hit batter did not come back to haunt him.  He was able to work out of difficult situations in the early innings without any damage. 

 

Simmons/NY Daily News 

 

By the late innings, it was over.  The Phil’s took over in the 8th.  Phil Coke induced the only batter he faced, Adam Lind, to fly out to left.  Phil Hughes came in and, after allowing a single to Scott Rolen, got the next two batters, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells, to ground out.  Manager Joe Girardi still insists that Brian Bruney is his 8th inning guy, but for the last couple of games, he’s gone with the hotter hands. 

I am very impressed with the job that Phil Hughes has done since his conversion to the bullpen.  I am still hopeful that he’ll take a starting role in 2010, but for now, it’s nice to have a reliever that can be depended upon in late innings.  I personally think he should become the bridge to Mariano Rivera unless his performance dictates otherwise.  Hughes’ emergence definitely relieves pressure for the Yanks to seek outside help for the pen, although I agree that it would still be an upgrade to add Houston Street or Chad Qualls (depending upon the cost).

 

Simmons/NY Daily News 

 

A home run by Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 8th allowed him to tie Don Mattingly for ninth place on the Yankees All-Time HR List with 222.  He also now stands on the Major League All-Time HR List with 567 HR’s (two behind Rafael Palmeiro).

 

 

 

Mariano Rivera quietly finished the Jays in the 9th.  He faced only three batters, and struck out two including Raul Chavez to end the game.

 


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Artist – John Michael Santora

 

The Yankees closed the gap behind the Boston Red Sox to two games.  The Sox fell to the Seattle Mariners, 7-6, in eleven innings.

 

Spoiled rotten

John Tlumacki/Boston Globe 

 

It was an enjoyable day in baseball, but today, win or lose, promises to a very magical and special day for all baseball fans.  Enjoy the day!

 

Murray Becker/AP

 

–Scott 

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