August 2009

Yes, Ozzie, It Was ‘Very Nice’…

 

A “very nice” weekend…

Weekend.JPG

 

Asked about the weekend in New York City following the three game sweep by the Yankees, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen would only say that Yankee Stadium is a very nice ballpark and that they had stayed in a very nice hotel.  Very nice, if I say so myself!  ;)

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

I doubt it was too much fun to be on the White Sox’ plane as they flew to Minneapolis following Sunday’s game.  The trip to Boston and New York was not a fun experience for the White Sox, who were once considered play-off contenders.

 

Ozzie Guillen argues a close play at second base with umpire Mark Wegner, who called Derek Jeter safe at second on a fielder's choice in the first inning. 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP

 

Mathematically, the White Sox are still in it as they are only 6 games behind the Detroit Tigers.  However, the past week, with only 1 win in 7 games against Boston and New York, showed that they are pretenders at this point. 

 

Yankees 8, White Sox 3

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

It was good to see the Yankees complete the three-game sweep, particularly considering the disappointment o f the prior series they lost to the Texas Rangers.  As it stands, the Yankees need every victory because the Boston Red Sox just keep on winning.  The Yankees’ lead in the AL East remains at 6 games.  Unlike Chicago, Boston does have the ability to win the division so the Yankees need to keep winning to stay ahead.

 

Winslow Townson/AP 

 

Yesterday’s one-hit shutout in the Yankees’ 10-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox was very satisfying.  Sergio Mitre was pitching a great game, his finest in pinstripes, but he suffered a forearm contusion off a liner hit by A.J. Pierzynski in the 7th inning and departed the game.  Chad Gaudin closed out the one-hit masterpiece.  My biggest fear is that Mitre’s gem came at the last opportunity for the Yankees to secure a reliable #5 starter for September.  If Mitre’s performance causes the Yankees to end their quest for an upgrade and he reverts to his usual mediocre ways, it will be a frustrating September.

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP 

 

I think it is important for the Yankees to play for home field advantage in the play-offs, and that’s why I am so concerned about the #5 spot in the rotation.  I agree that by the time the play-offs start, the #5 starter becomes a long man out of the pen.  But given the Yankees’ struggles against the Los Angeles Angels, they need every advantage they can get between now and when they’ll have to face their nemesis with the chips on the line.  I was surprised that the Tampa Bay Rays traded Scott Kazmir, but it was tough to see him go to the Angels.  The Yankees have not done well against Kazmir and he solidifies the Angels’ rotation.  The Yankees were able to reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox; I only hope they’ll be able to do the same with the Angels when the time comes.

 

Shazam.JPG

 

Sunday, “Joba Rules 2.0″ were in effect so it was an abbreviated start for Joba Chamberlain who only went 3 innings (2 runs on 4 hits).  Alfredo Aceves, in the role perfectly suited for him, relieved Chamberlain and picked up his 9th win of the season.  The game had been tight until the 7th inning when the Yankees scored 5 runs (primarily on the strength of Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer, his 32nd of the season).  Teixeira, in picking up his 101st RBI of the season, now has hit 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s for the sixth consecutive season.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

The game also saw Johnny Damon hit the 200th home run at the new Yankee Stadium since it opened in April.

 

Johnny Damon is congratulated by Derek Jeter after hitting a two-run homer in the third inning off of starter Freddy Garcia.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images 

The Yankees now head to Baltimore.  The Orioles have generally played very well against the Yankees, so it should be a challenging series.  Meanwhile, their chief rival heads to Tampa for a three-game series against the Rays.  Normally, I’d like the Rays’ chances in the match-up, but I have to believe that for a team still in contention, the trade of Scott Kazmir had t be somewhat demoralizing.  Therefore, the Red Sox are probably getting to Tampa at just the right time…not to mention that they’ve been on fire since they played the Yankees earlier this month.  The beginning of September should be interesting in the AL East…well, at least for the Yankees and Red Sox…

 

 

Standings as of 8/30/09:

TEAM

W

L

%

GB

Yankees

82

48

.631

Red Sox

76

54

.585

6.0

Rays

70

59

.543

11.5

Blue Jays

58

70

.453

23.0

Orioles

54

77

.412

28.5

 

I saw that Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassell was hurt this weekend.  I know the Chiefs are awaiting tests to determine the extent of the injury, but hopefully, the news will be good and he’ll return soon.  Even though he didn’t end up with the Vikings, I had been looking forward to see if Cassell could continue his success in Kansas City.

 

It was a painful sack for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on the third play from scrimmage in Saturday's game against the Seattle  Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium. Cassel left the game because of a leg injury and did not return to the sideline.

The Kansas City Star 

 

I was very surprised that the New England Patriots have chosen to cut backup QB Kevin O’Connell.  Granted, I am not too close to the scene so I don’t know all the details, but I hope the Pats have a plan for a safety net behind Tom Brady.  I am sure they’ll be scouring the waiver wire and calling other teams looking for possible replacements.  The Pats do need more than Andrew Walter or Brian Hoyer should Brady go down for any extended period of time.  Maybe the Pats should have opted for Michael Vick…

 

Kevin O'Connell #5 of the New England Patriots shouts instructions against the Baltimore Ravens during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 7, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Getty Images North America

 

I am anxious to see what Brett Favre is able to do when he plays the first half against the Houston Texans in tomorrow night’s exhibition game.  Last week, he was outplayed by Tavaris Jackson as he only went 1-for-4 for 4 yards.   I am sure that the word “schism” will be heard more than once on the telecast Monday night. 

 

 

Tuesday night, I will be going to my first Nickelback concert.  They’re my favorite band, and I am excited to finally see them in person.  Over the years, I’ve used different lyrics as a mantra, and these are some of my favorite lines from the song, If Today Was Your Last Day…

So do whatever it takes

‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life

Let nothing stand in your way

‘Cause the hands of time are never on your side

 

 

Hopefully, Tuesday night will find the Yankees 7 ½ games up on the Red Sox!  J

–Scott

Reality Check…

 

What a letdown!…

 

 

 

After taking 2 of 3 from the Boston Red Sox last weekend, the Yankees landed with a thud in the Bronx.  The Texas Rangers, normally a team the Yankees can handle, took 2 of 3 from the Bombers while Boston was busy taking 3 of 4 from the Chicago White Sox.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

The once expansive 7 1/2 game lead has been reduced to 6 games.  But all things considered, a 6 game lead on August 27th is still a very good place to be.

 

 

I was disappointed with the first game of the Texas series.  Trailing 10-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees brought it to 10-9 with runners in scoring position.  But the rally was killed by a failed bunt attempt by Nick Swisher and a game-ending double play by Melky Cabrera.

 

Henny Ray Abrams/AP 

 

Andy Pettitte convincingly won the second game of the series, but further disappointment followed in the final game as the Yanks fell 7-2.  A.J. Burnett continued his recent streak of no success.  Despite 12 strikeouts and an otherwise dominating performance, he paid dearly for a mistake that resulted in a three-run bomb by Ian Kinsler.

 

Noah K. Murray/Star Ledger 

 

Now the Yankees prepare for the Chicago White Sox to arrive in town.  It won’t match the intensity of the last Sox team, but hopefully, CC Sabathia will right the ship and get the Yankees back on the winning track.  After all, these Yankees have a division to win.  Right, Alex?

 

 

 

So, the Yankees were apparently the team that filed the waiver claim on pitcher Brad Penny.  The move forced the Red Sox to drop Penny for no compensation.  Bummer for Theo.  While I suspect, like everyone else, that Penny will return to the NL, I can’t help but think that he’d be an improvement over Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin.  The Yankees should definitely consider being one of the teams lining up to talk to Penny on Monday when he clears waivers.

 

Reuters

 

I read tonight that the Yanks most likely won’t be buyers in the free agent market this winter.  I guess that means no Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.  Okay, I recognize that we are spoiled as Yankees fans by ownership committed to winning, but I do miss having at least one superstar outfielder (sorry Johnny!).  Austin Jackson will enter the outfield mix in 2010 but there is no in-house answer for right field if Xavier Nady is allowed to walk at the end of the year.  But of course, what you HEAR is not always what you SEE with the Yanks.  Brian Cashman has gotten good at lying in the weeds, waiting to strike…

 

 

I hate to go off-topic (okay, not really).  There are reports that a “schism” has developed in the Minnesota Vikings’ clubhouse with players feeling that either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels would give them a better chance to win than Brett Favre.  I still remain hopeful that we’ll see the 2007 Packers version of Favre rather than the 2008 Jets version.  Favre will play a half during Monday’s exhibition game and he needs to start showing his teammates that he is still the same player that terrorized them in Green Bay.  This season has the makings of something really special…or something really rotten.  The difference maker, in either direction, will be Favre.

 

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Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune 

 

I am definitely looking forward to the Top 11 post by my friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants).  The photos of her in a Yankees cap will be a special treat.  Nevertheless, I recognize that September will be a dogfight and I look forward to the next battle with Julia.  Hmmm, maybe we need to raise the stakes…

Hey Yankees, let’s roll!…

 

The Little Engine That Could…

 

Wow, the winner is….ME! 

 

 

When the season started and the Yankees promptly proceeded to drop the first 8 games of their season series to the Boston Red Sox, I was starting to develop an inferiority complex.  At every turn, Julia was emerging victorious and I was wearing pink Red Sox hats.  But finally the tide turned in early August.

 

driveway1.jpg 

At the All-Star break, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by four games.  They had been swept in their last series before the break by the Los Angeles Angels, and admittedly, I was a bit pessimistic.

 

 

But after the break, the Yankees quickly caught and passed the Red Sox.  Then, came the four game sweep at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox in early August that stopped the losing streak.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

But the true test was the latest road trip.  The Yankees first headed for Seattle where they took 3 of 4 from the Mariners.  Next stop was Oakland.  Former Yankee Brett Tomko silenced the Yankee bats in the first game, but the Yanks came back to win the next two to take the series.  With a 5-2 road record, the Yankees headed for Boston.  The Sox had been playing very well, and the 30 inning scoreless streak against the Yankees earlier in the month seemed to be a distant memory. 

The Yankees took the first game at Fenway Park, but it wasn’t easy as ridiculous as it sounds.  With a 12-1 lead, I was actually fretful of a Sox comeback.  The Red Sox did starting scoring runs, but fortunately the Yanks stayed several steps ahead.  At one point, I had sent an email to Julia to tell her guys to quit scoring.  She didn’t listen.  With a 20-7 lead in the 9th inning, the Red Sox scored 4 runs to close the gap to 20-11, but that was it…finally.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

I knew that once the Yankees scored 20 runs, they were in trouble the next day.  Generally, whenever the Yanks have scored 20 or more runs in a game, they struggle offensively the next night.  I can really only recall one time that ever not being the case.  Unfortunately, it held the next day as the Red Sox thrashed the Yanks, 14-1.

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

So, Julia and I went into the final game of the series tied.  I wasn’t overly optimistic given that Josh Beckett was on the mound.  But at least we had CC Sabathia on our side.  I recognize that CC has had his share of failures at Fenway Park, but in August, CC seems virtually unstoppable.  It wasn’t a great performance on Sunday, but he didn’t give up 5 home runs like Beckett.  Plus, he had Hideki Matsui on his side.  Matsui lived up to his nickname this series, “Godzilla”…

 

 

It was somewhat bittersweet given that this is perhaps his final year in pinstripes.  There is virtually no chance that the Yankees will re-sign Matsui so this is his farewell tour.  The Red Sox probably wish that he would have left a year earlier.

 

Charles Krupa/AP 

 

In the end, the Yanks had an 8-4 victory, and completed a 7-3 winning road trip.  They had taken the Red Sox in the latest series, with only one more remaining.  So, it means that my friend Julia will be posting a Pro-Yankee Top 11 List.  Plus, she must spend a day wearing a Yankees cap and provide photos to prove it.  A pink Yankees cap has been ordered through MLB.com, and is making its way to Boston.

New York Yankees Caroline Women's Cap - MLB.com Shop

Enjoy being a Yankees fan for a day, Julia!

 

 

 

…farewell until we meet again in September!  We’ll need to come up with a memorable wager since it will be the last hurrah of 2009…well, at least until the Yanks meet the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series!

With the Red Sox’ win tonight over the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ lead in the AL East stands at 7 games.  This one is far from over, but on August 24th, I like where the Yankees sit.

 

 

During the off-season, I liked the moves that Theo Epstein made for the Red Sox, including the one they didn’t make (Mark Teixeira).  Overall, I thought that Theo did a better job of filling the holes, while Brian Cashman was focusing on big game.  Even during the season, Theo has made some wise moves, such as the trade for Cleveland’s Victor Martinez.  John Smoltz didn’t pan out, but he was better suited for the NL anyway.  In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather have Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation than John Smoltz so it worked out for Boston.  I was frustrated when the Yanks’ biggest in-season moves were Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Chad Gaudin.  But the patience that Brian Cashman had (that I did not have) paid off as the bullpen solidified once Phil Hughes began his mastery of the 8th inning.  I guess that’s why Cash gets the big bucks, and I only sit and write about it.

 

 

I am still not convinced that the Yankees have the starting pitching to go deep in the play-offs unless A.J. Burnett steps up his game.  But the Yanks have the talent to get hot in late September/early October.  Frank Miller, a late cartoonist for The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, used to say that it wasn’t an official World Series if the Yankees weren’t in it.  I am thinking that it is time for an official World Series…

 

 

World Champs.JPG

 

Go Yankees!

–Scott

Deuce! Advantage, T.B.D.!…

 

The showdown to be decided among a battle of aces…

IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) CC Sabathia #52 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 *** CC Sabathia

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

 

As Julia (of Julia’s Rants) indicated to me, this is the first time that one of our Yankees-Red Sox wagers will be decided by the final game of the series.  In today’s match-up, CC Sabathia will take the hill in opposition to Boston’s Josh Beckett.  At stake?  Only my pride!  ;)

 

 

Today’s game will decide whether I will be cruising around the San Francisco Bay Area wearing a Red Sox hat or if Julia will be walking across Boston Common in a Yankees hat.  Well, maybe not Boston Common, but she’ll be wearing an interlocking NY cap in the heart of the RSN…if the Red Sox lose.

 

Julia, you might want to improve your wardrobe while you are at it!

 

 

The Red Sox bats have been hot during this series.  Despite allowing 20 runs to the Yankees on Friday, the Red Sox still managed score 11 runs themselves, including 4 in the bottom of the 9th.

 

Elise Amendola/AP 

 

They carried over the offensive charge into Saturday’s game in the absolute annihilation of A.J. Burnett.  During the off-season, one of the factors cited for signing Burnett was his success against the Red Sox.  At that time, he had been 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 8 career starts.  Yet, this year, Fenway Park has been very unkind to A.J.  He’s 0-2, with a 14.21 ERA in three games at Fenway.  Yikes!  That doesn’t bode well for October success.  Perhaps A.J. should go to Montoursville, PA to consult with Mike Mussina to find a way to beat the Red Sox in their own backyard.

 

Theodorakis/Daily News

 

I knew that Saturday’s game would be very difficult for the Yankees.  Generally, whenever the Yankees score 20 more runs, they struggle offensively the next night with runs of 3 or less.  True to form, the Yankees only managed 1 run against Boston rookie Junichi Tazawa.

 

Winslow Townson/AP

 

I don’t know what to make of the alleged communication problems between Jorge Posada and Burnett.  Hopefully, they’ll resolve their issues and get on the same page.

 


Best Buddies.JPG 

 

So, it all comes down to today’s game at Fenway Park.  Hey Julia, Game On!  J

 

 

PLEA FROM ONE OF OUR OWN…

Here is a copy of the latest post by the Rockpile Ranter.  He needs our assistance in finding his daughter…

I need your help

8/20/09

First off let me apoligize for the lack of baseball entries. Although I couldn’t be more proud of the Rockies right now I can’t concentrate on writing as my mind is elsewhere.

Most of you that know me know my oldest came out to stay with us a couple of weeks ago. She was here for five days and on the sixth day she walked into Nederland, CO to make a phone call and we haven’t seen or heard from her since.

Her taking off unexpectedly is not uncommon, but her leaving without any of her belongings is. I really don’t know what to do so I’m reaching out to my friends and the baseball community and asking if you see my little girl please let me know.

                                         This is the poster the police have created for her. 

                                                                   Missing/ EndangeredNaomi Chilcote.jpg

Naomi Chilcote

03/05/87 White Female

5’07″ tall 125 pounds

Blond hair Brown eyes.

Last seen near Nederland, Colorado on 08/03/09

Naomi was involved in a violent Domestic Violence Incident in Reno, Nevada on 07/15/09 with a suspect named Robert Amata DOB 04-05-58. Amata is possibly associated with the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club and has a history of Obstruction, Resisting Arrest, Dangerous Weapons, Drug Possession, and various Domestic Violence offenses. Naomi is needed to testify against Amata in the case in Nevada and her family is concerned for her welfare in that she disappeared from their home in Colorado without taking any of her belongings. If Naomi is contacted please check on her welfare and contact Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ali Thompson at 303-441-3643.

I realize this is a shot in the dark but it’s all I’ve got and worth a shot. I’m not looking for your pity I’m just looking for my daughter. Please if you see her or even think you did shoot me a message.

        Thank you for your help my friends…D The Rockpile Ranter 

 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rockpile Ranter and his family.  Hopefully, Naomi will be found safe and healthy very soon! 

 

OTHER STUFF…

Friday night saw the debut of new Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre.  That still sounds, and looks, weird.  He received a great ovation from the fans, but the performance was insignificant.  Favre went 1 for 4, with 4 yards, in the passing game before departing.  I wasn’t really expecting much for an exhibition game, but hopefully Favre will give the thousands of fans who have invested in purple #4 jerseys a chance to cheer for him during games rather than just before the games start.

 

Andy King/AP 

 

Of the other three QB’s on the roster, I have to think that Tavaris Jackson is the most likely to be holding a clipboard elsewhere.  I can’t envision the Vikings retention of four QB’s during the season, and in my opinion, they’d be foolish to cut or trade John David Booty who represents life beyond the Favre year(s).  Sage Rosenfels signed the contract extension with Minnesota following his acquisition from Houston, so I don’t really see him going anywhere.  So, by process of elimination, T-Jack would appear to the odd man out.  Regardless of what happens, I think the Vikings backup QB will see plenty of action this year.  To expect Favre to take every snap would be senseless and he’d benefit from the relief particularly later in the year when, hopefully, the Vikings will be charging for the play-offs.

 

Paul Battaglia/AP 

 

According to multiple reports, former Yankees slugger Jason Giambi is headed for Blake Street in LoDo.  The Colorado Rockies have apparently signed Giambi to add a bat for their drive to the NL play-offs.  There’s nothing like Coors Field to juice up a sagging bat, but of course, the move also means that Giambi would have to play the field.  So, the question is whether he can produce more runs than he gives up…

 

 

It was unfortunate to see the foul ball hit Johnny Damon’s knee on Friday night, but I am glad that it wasn’t worse.  He received treatment yesterday and will hopefully be back in action soon…possibly even today.

 

C.J. Gunther/EPA 

 

Well, Julia, let the game begin!  I’m ready.   The Yankees are ready.  Game on! 

Lock and Load, Welcome to Fenway…

 

The showdown resumes…

 

Fight.JPG

 

The Yankees begin a three game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night.   After losing the first 8 games of the season series to the Red Sox, the Yankees rebounded during the last four game set to sweep the series from the Red Sox.  So, here we are on August 20th, and the Yankees hold a 6 ½ game lead over the Red Sox.  At the All-Star Break, I said that the Yankees just needed to win four more games than the Red Sox.  They have done that and then some, but the key is to hold the lead.  This weekend’s series can go a long ways toward deciding the eventual 2009 AL East Champion.

 

 

 

For the latest series, I have once again made a wager bet with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  I so enjoyed finally emerging victorious during the last series, and I have to admit that Julia impressed me with her “payment” for the loss.  She wrote a fantastic Top 11 about positive Yankee statements, and her photos with the Yankees flag attached to her SUV were exactly as required under the terms and conditions of our bet.  For the latest series, we have decided to retain the Top 11 post (once again the credit goes to Jimmy Curran for the idea) but for the second part, we have opted to spending a day wearing the opposing team’s ballcap.  I do recognize that Julia is at a disadvantage since it would be more painful to wear a Yankees cap in Boston than it would be wearing a Red Sox cap in the San Francisco Bay Area.  So, I will toss in an extra.  If the Yankees lose the series, I will wear the pink Red Sox hat for a day following a day of wearing the traditional Red Sox cap.  Not that I intend to lose, but I recognize that Julia needs a handicap.  So, Julia, my friend, game on!

 

 

The latest road trip, so far, has been successful for the Yanks.  They took 3 of 4 from the Mariners in Seattle, and 2 of 3 from the A’s in Oakland.  I attended the second game in Oakland, and had a few observations.  I knew that CC Sabathia was a big guy, but seeing him close-up as he warmed up prior to the game, I’d have to say that the dude is absolutely huge.

 


Huge.JPG 

 

After seeing a few games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, it was somewhat of a disappointment to go to Oakland Coliseum.  My wife and I took BART up to the stadium, and my first thought was that the “drive up” appeal of the stadium was sorely lacking compared to AT&T Park.  As you approach the stadium, you quickly realize that you are in Raiders territory.  I hate to knock a stadium, but after a year that has seen my attendance at AT&T Park, the new Yankees Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I’d have to say that Oakland Coliseum is a major letdown.  I am optimistic that the A’s relocate to San Jose, so we’ll see.  They definitely need a new home.  Back to the game, I was disappointed when CC gave up a home run to catcher Kurt Suzuki after throwing a brushback pitch.  But the disappointment was short lived as the scoreboard announced that my section and row had won a free pizza from Roundtable Pizza as a result of the home run.  Hey, c’mon, it’s pizza!  The game remained tight until the sixth inning when the Yanks finally broke through with 5 runs, and eventually won 7-2.  The crowd was very pro-Yankees as the chants of “Let’s Go Yankees!” drowned out the cries of “Let’s Go Oakland!”. 

 

IMG_0334sm.JPG

 

There were many Derek Jeter jerseys in attendance.  I like DJ and I know that he’s headed for Cooperstown, but I’ve never fully understood the attraction that DJ has on fans.  Personally, I prefer watching the home run guys, like Mark Teixeira.  It’s not that I wouldn’t want Jeter on my team (I do), but I don’t see the power he has over women.  I heard one older woman Red Sox fan (not Julia, she’s not old!) once say, “I hate Derek Jeter, but he’s so cute”.  I don’t get it. 

 

IMG_0335sm.JPG

 

My wife took this photo with her cell phone and posted it on Facebook.  It was amazing how many people thought this was an actual photo from the stadium.  It does look kind of real though…

 

 

So, with Boston’s win over Toronto tonight, the Yankees arrive at Fenway Park with a 6 ½ game lead.  Regardless of what happens, they’ll leave Boston in first place.  But will the Red Sox be close enough that Julia can return to her “obnoxious” ways (j/k), or will the Yankees put further distance between them and the boys from Beantown.  This is ‘to be determined’ but I can assure you that I do not intend to wear a pink hat!

 

 

The San Diego Padres have apparently accepted cash from the Yankees for pitcher Chad Gaudin in lieu of the player to be named later.  Considering that the cost was only $100K, I suppose that meant GM Brian Cashman just had to reach into petty cash to settle the account.  Rumor has it that the Accounting Department doesn’t know how to write any checks with 6 figures or less.  LOL!

 

 

So, the St. Louis Cardinals are counting on John Smoltz to help them stave off the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central?  Yikes!  Good luck with that.  Then again, the Yankees are going with the two-headed monster of Mitre/Gaudin so I guess I have no room to talk…

 

 

Yes, it’s off topic but how can I resist making comment about new Vikings QB Brett Favre.  As you may (or may not) know, I am a die-hard Vikings fan.  I have been one all my life, and it has been a roller coaster ride.  I resigned as a Vikings fan when they made Bob Lee the starting QB following Sir Francis Tarkenton’s retirement.  But I came back around with Tommy Kramer.

 

  

The Dallas Cowboys were always my second favorite team, so I followed them in those in-between years.  But fast forward to present day, the QB position has always been very important to me.  I had been a big fan of Dante Culpepper’s and it was disappointing when his Vikings career ended because of the knee injury and a difference in philosophy with coach Brad Childress.  It has been frustrating to see ex-Vikings go elsewhere and thrive, like Rich Gannon  previously in Oakland, Shaun Hill in San Francisco or even Tyler Thigpen who started a few games for the Chiefs last season.  I was never a fan of Tavaris Jackson, and I was somewhat skeptical of Sage Rosenfels.  The only connection I have with Rosenfels is that we are both native Iowans, like Kurt Warner.  I like John David Booty, but I do wonder if he’ll ever achieve professional success.  So, I am begrudgingly warming up to the idea that Brett Favre is now the Vikings starting QB.

 

Tarvaris Jackson, Brett Favre

Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune 

 

The 2009 Vikings have the most talent of any Vikings team that I’ve seen since at least 1998.  All the pieces to the puzzle are in place for a great year…except QB, until now.  Perhaps Favre comes out and repeats his performance with the New York Jets last year (great start, but fizzle down the end), but conversely, there is a chance that he could replicate his final season with the Green Bay Packers.  So, based on that, I do feel that I have to give him a chance.  If anything, it has to be a great learning experience for Jackson, Rosenfels and Booty to be around Favre.  Granted, one of those guys will probably be holding a clipboard for a different team when the regular season starts, but there is value in Favre’s presence among the other QB’s.  Maybe Favre should have considered ‘Just For Men’ but then again, if memory serves correctly, Kenny Stabler had grey hair in defeating the Vikings in the 1977 Super Bowl.  Not one of my fondest memories…

Receiver Fred Biletnikoff, left, and quarterback Ken Stab... AP File 1977

 

Nevertheless, I’ll give #4 a chance.  I am not ready to mail in my fan membership.  But, hey, my expectations are only ‘Super Bowl or Bust’…

 

Hey Julia, we’re coming for you!  Get ready for that Yankees cap!  J

A New Attitude…and a Few More Wins…

 

The Yankees won Friday night, thanks to the late game heroics of Mark Teixeira…

 

Ted S. Warren/AP

 

As a Yankees fan since the early 70′s, I have seen many highs and lows.  1998 was clearly a special year so excluding that year, this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons, so far, that I’ve experienced.  Granted, the Yanks may still fall short but the ride has been enjoyable as we near the stretch run.

 


Fun Ride.JPG 

 

The April woes of the bullpen, Cody Ransom as the starting third baseman, Chien-Ming Wang’s disastrous starts, among other things, are a forgotten memory…

 

 

I really thought that Jason Giambi would change the Yankees clubhouse with his personality when he joined the Yanks back in 2002.

 

 


JGiambi.JPG 

 

But it never happened, and the clubhouse remained very “corporate” as G changed his persona to fit the team.

 

Frederic Larson/AP

 

But along came Nick Swisher…

 

 

He is not a superstar.  He’s not going to lead the league in hits, average or home runs.  He’ll make some painful defensive plays to watch.  But at the end of the day, there is not another guy you’d want on your team.  He, along with A.J. Burnett and others, have successfully loosened up the Yankees clubhouse, and I think he is a big reason why the team is enjoying success this season. 

 

 

 

Friday night, the Yankees began a road trip in Seattle that will conclude with a three game set at Fenway Park beginning on Friday.  Andy Pettitte pitched another quality game but was gone before the outcome of the game was decided.  With a lead-off homer in the 9th, Mark Teixeira put the Yanks up by a run.  Nick Swisher added a RBI single, and the rest was left to Mariano Rivera.  In his 900th major league appearance, Mo got his 34th save in 35 chances.  I guess the “cranky” shoulder is in a better mood now!

 

 

Tonight, the Yanks are up 4-2 in the fifth.  Swisher has a home run, as the Yanks scored 4 unearned runs in the top of the second inning.

 

John Froschauer/AP

I’d like to say that I am confident, but not with Sergio Mitre on the mound…

 

Worried2.JPG

 

Meanwhile in Texas, unable to mount a comeback for a second day in a row, the Boston Red Sox lost to the Rangers, 7-2.  So, the Yanks have a chance to pick up another game on the Sox should they beat the Mariners tonight.  Hey Julia, are you back there?  I don’t seem to be able to see you anywhere.  Wait a minute!  That speck!  Is that you?  ;)

 

 

I didn’t realize that Derek Jeter is on the verge of a major milestone.  The MLB record for hits by a shortstop is held by Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (2,673).  After last night, DJ was just three hits shy.  He has a hit tonight, so he is just two away from tying Aparicio.  Congrats DJ!  Another record on your way to Cooperstown!  Very well done!

 

John Froschauer/AP

Congratulations to Julia of Julia’s Rants for her successful completion of the wager loss for last week’s Yankees-Red Sox series.   Due to the Yankees’ sweep, she had to:

1.      Post a pro-Yankees Top 11 List.

2.      Take photos of her car at various prominent locations in the Boston area…with a Yankees flag attached.

 

 

driveway2.jpg

http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

 

She did an excellent job with both.  So good, in fact, I think she should lose again next week just so we can see more of her creative side!

 

 

 

The Yankees will head for Oakland after Seattle, and I will be attending the second game of the series.  Like fine wine from Napa Valley, older players like Rivera and Jeter are aging very gracefully and the AL East leaders are showing they are the right vintage for success this year.  Hey guys, see you in Oakland! 

Go Yankees!

 

Extending the Lead…

The Boston Red Sox lost…

 

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Life is good.

 

Relax.JPG

 

Justin Verlander was throwing smoke today.  Not just in the 1st inning, but he was still hitting 100 mph with a couple of pitches to “future Yankee” Jason Bay in the 8th inning.  The Detroit Tigers were victorious in the game against the Red Sox that saw Verlander go 8 innings while giving up only 4 hits and no runs.  It was a very impressive performance and it couldn’t happen against a better team!  Right, Julia?  ;)

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

To the Red Sox’ defense, Clay Buchholz pitched a great game in a losing effort, and is a notable improvement over the departed John Smoltz (much to my chagrin).  Theo, can you bring Smoltzie back?

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

The Yankees closed out a very successful home stand against the Red Sox and the Blue Jays.  They could have (should have) won the first game against the Jays, but I think they were still coming down from the high of sweeping the Red Sox.  Nevertheless, they came back to win the next two games to take the series so all is good.

 

 

 

On the downside, the last victory against the Jays was a costly win.  Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada all suffered severe bruises.  DJ and A-Rod were hit by pitches, while Posada took a foul ball on his right hand.  Like Posada said, “I got hit everywhere.  It was like a boxing match.”

 

 

And, oh yeah, Mariano Rivera had a “cranky” shoulder and was unavailable.

 

 

 

It wasn’t a great way to start the road trip in Seattle.  Both A-Rod and Posada were out of the starting lineup for the opening game against the Mariners, however, Jeter was back in the lineup at the top of the order.

 

Elaine Thompson/AP 

 

I didn’t think that the acquisition of Jerry Hairston, Jr. at the trading deadline was significant, but I’d have to say that I was wrong.  In a short amount of time, he has proven to be an invaluable commodity and he’s playing third base tonight.  He’s a quality player, and has performed better than I had expected.  Even though he isn’t used as much, I’d also have to say that I am impressed with Eric Hinske.  The Yankees’ bench is definitely much stronger today than it was on June 1st.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP 

As I finish this post, the Yankees have just beaten the Mariners 11-1 so they didn’t seem to be missing A-Rod and Posada too much.  Jeter and Matsui have home runs (Godzilla had 2), and Hairston had 2 RBI’s.  Hey, Julia, I wasn’t a math major in college, but I’d call it a 6 ½ game lead!  J

 

 

CC Sabathia picked up his 13th win while surrendering only three hits and one run in 8 innings, while striking out 10.  CC is definitely locked and loaded, and this is why Hal Steinbrenner signed off on the huge deal in the offseason despite budget constraints.  The pitcher the Yanks blew out was former Pirate Ian Snell.  Before the trading deadline, the Yanks had been scouting Snell, who was then with the Pirates’ AAA affiliate.  As the saying goes, sometimes the best trade is the one never made.

 

 

 

The Yankees still need to do something about the #5 slot in the starting rotation.  There are plans to insert Chad Gaudin for a start this week in order to skip Joba Chamberlain and limit his season innings.  But I am not expecting great things from Gaudin, who was 4-10 for the Padres this season.  In other words, note to Brian Cashman, try again…

 

 

The Tampa Tribune has settled on a name for the new Jeter mansion in Davis Islands, FL.  By way of an online poll, the winning name was St. Jetersburg.  I don’t even have to hear the other choices to know that they made the right selection.  The name is perfect.

 

 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on this subject even though it’s off topic.  I can’t believe the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick.  I was listening to the guys on San Francisco’s sports talk radio station, KNBR, and they felt that Vick couldn’t have landed in a “softer” spot.  Personally, I think it was a bad decision for Eagles management.  I know that Donovan McNabb has had his share of critics, but he remains in the upper tier of NFL QB’s.  I know, it’s not like Vick is going to beat out McNabb, but his mere presence on the field shows that the Eagles will accept victories over moral responsibility.  Granted, I wasn’t an Eagles fan to begin with, but suffice to say that I am glad (and proud) that my team didn’t sign the morally corrupt Vick.  The only reason that Vick is asking for a second chance is because he got caught.  Good luck with that, Philly…

 

 

I know Julia, I saw that Tom Brady threw 2 TD’s…blah, blah, blah…  Go Vikings! 

 

 

 

 

 –Scott

What The Sam Hill Did I Drink?…

 

A Post-Red Sox Hangover…

 

Hangover1.JPG

 

Fresh off a four game series sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees stumbled tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 5-4.  Of course, the deck was stacked against the Yanks with Sergio Mitre on the mound.  Mitre went five innings, giving up five runs (three of which were earned).  He also had six strikeouts.  It wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t awful…somewhere in middle which seems to be typical-Mitre…not bad but not quite good enough.  I am ready for a change.  Give Chad Gaudin a chance or, gasp!, reach down and pluck Kei Igawa from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.  I wish now that the Yankees had made a play for Pedro Martinez who is scheduled to start for the Phillies  on Wednesday.  Heck, even Luis Tiant was looking good the other night on ESPN!  Anybody but Mitre.  I know, he pitched better tonight than his previous outings and it was a miscue (his, by the way) that was his downfall.  But I am just not convinced that he is the answer…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Yankees’ seven game winning streak was halted with the loss, and they lost a game in the standings to the Red Sox, who defeated the Detroit Tigers, 6-5.  Their lead in the AL East is now 5 ½ games.  Of course, I’ve already read that the largest lead the Yankees have ever blown was 6 games in 1933.  Julia is probably already writing about it on her blog…

 

Happy Woman.JPG

 

Cody Ransom cleared waivers, and now heads back to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

 

UPI 

 

Today was a sad day with news of the death of Mickey Mantle’s widow, Merlyn Mantle.  She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, and made her last public appearance during a dinner before a memorial for Bobby Murcer.  I lived in Dallas during Mickey’s final years.  I never saw the Mantles, but I attended Mickey’s funeral in 1995 and used to drive by their condominium building on a regular basis.  Just this morning, unaware of Merlyn’s health, I put up an autographed picture of Mickey in my office.

 

AP 

 

On a brighter note, I heard that Aaron Boone is already playing baseball again for the Houston Astros’ AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks.  He played third base and was hitless in two at-bats before departing.  Less than five months ago, Boone was undergoing open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect in his aortic valve.  That’s incredible news.  I suffered a stress fracture of my left tibia several months ago, and I am still trying to make a comeback.  Boone is sliced open so the world can see his heart, and he is swinging at 90 mph fastballs.  I’m a wimp.  I thought that Boone’s career was finished, and he proved me wrong.  I wish him the very best as he attempts to make a comeback.  I hope that the road leads to Houston.  Good luck, Aaron, old friend…

 

Al Messerschmidt/AP

 

Tomorrow night, I’ll get my first taste of the San Francisco Giants rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers when I travel to AT&T Park.  It will be my first time to personally attend a game in opposition to Joe Torre and one of my all-time heroes, Don Mattingly.  On the bright side, I’ll be wearing the same hat as my favorite closer of the 80′s, Dave Righetti.

 

 

 

It just wasn’t that long ago when I was cheering for Rags to close out games…

 

AP 

 

Hopefully, Tuesday will bring a new Yankees winning streak… 

 

New York Daily News

–Scott

Quite Simply, A Wonderful Weekend!…

 

An unexpected sweep…

 

Sweep.JPG

 

The Yankees rallied to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2, on Sunday.  With the win, the Yankees completed a four game sweep of the Red Sox, and increased their lead in the AL East to 6 ½ games over Boston.

 

The Baltimore Sun

 

Prior to the start of the weekend series, I had hoped that the Yanks would win enough games so that they’d finished the series on Sunday in first place.  However, I never imagined that the lead would balloon to 6 ½.

 

Whoa.JPG

 

The game had been another scoreless affair through the early innings.  Jon Lester continued his dominance over the Yankees, with 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, and 7 strikeouts.  He did not have any walks.  Of the Boston pitchers, Lester is the one that I have the most respect for, and he did a masterful job.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

The Yankees struck first with a solo home run by Alex Rodriguez in the 7th inning.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

However, the Red Sox quickly struck back with a two-run homer by Victor Martinez off Phil Coke in the top of the 8th, which ended the team’s 30 inning scoring drought.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

Coke had relieved Andy Pettitte, who, like Lester, pitched a terrific game.  Pettitte also went 7 innings, with 5 hits, no runs, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.  Unfortunately, it was a no-decision for Pettitte’s effort, as Coke lost the lead but earned the victory with the Yankees’ 8th inning comeback.

The first batters went down quickly so it appeared that the Yanks would head to the 9th down by 1.  However, Johnny Damon came to the plate and tied the game with a homer.  He was followed by Mark Teixeira, who connected for a homer to put the Yanks up by 1.  After a couple of more runs scored courtesy of a single by Nick Swisher, the Yankees had turned a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 lead.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 9th, and looked a bit rusty.  With a hit and a walk, he allowed the tying run to come to the plate.  However, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a grounder that Mark Teixeira was able to field and step on first before Ellsbury could get there.  So, although the 9th inning was tense, the Yankees emerged with the victory and the series sweep.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

Congratulations to the Yankees for a job well done!

 

 

Well Done.JPG

 

Meanwhile, my friend, Julia (of Julia’s Rants) has completed ½ of her wager loss with a tremendous Top 11 (eleven positive, memorable things about the Yankees).  For the other half of the waiver, she has to take a photo of her SUV in three high profile, easily recognizable spots.  One catch, the SUV has to be flying a Yankees flag.  That’s easier said than done, at least in Boston.  Good luck, Julia!  The flag is in the mail!  Julia, by the way, has been a great sport.  It’s tough to be positive about the other team when your team loses to them (trust me, I have great experience!), but she’s held her head high and paid her debt while maintaining the pride and respect of the RSN.  I realize that this is just a single victory…well, okay, four of them!  ;)  The Yankees and Red Sox will go at it again beginning August 21st at Fenway Park, and you can be assured that the Red Sox will be seeking revenge, as will a certain woman from Boston

 

 

See you again on August 21st, my friend!  The game is still on!  :)

Pitcher Chad Gaudin joined the Yankees today, and as expected, pitcher Josh Towers was DFA’d without throwing a pitch for the Yanks (he had just been called up from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre for insurance after the long 15 inning ordeal on Friday night).  Gaudin will pitch out of the bullpen, and was told by manager Joe Girardi that he could come in to face a batter or two, or he could be asked to pitch an entire game.  I think he is just on Sergio Mitre start away from getting a shot in the rotation…

 

 

 

Here are the final totals for the Red Sox-Yankees series:

 

Runs

Red Sox                                  8

Yankees                  25

 

Home Runs

Red Sox                                  3

Yankees                  9

 

Wins

Red Sox                                  0

Yankees                  4

 

Winner:                                 Scott!

 

 

It was a very enjoyable weekend!

–Scott

Victory over the Red Sox…and Julia’s Rants…

 

I won?  I don’t know how to act…

 

 

Three games into a four game series and the wager is over.  With the Yankees’ three game win streak against the Boston Red Sox after an 0-8 season start, I can relax knowing that, for a few days, I can enjoy an advantage over Julia and her beloved Red Sox.  Of course, by next Monday or Tuesday, the Yankees success in the current series will be forgotten and the Red Sox will be charging ahead for the next match-up which begins in Boston on August 21st for a three game set.

 

 

Nevertheless, today was all Yankees.  I was unable to watch the game, but saw that CC Sabathia had a no-hitter going in the 5th inning.  I would not text or email anyone for fear of jinxing the no-no, but unfortunately, CC did allow a few hits.  He pitched into the 8th inning and did not allow a runner past second base.  He allowed only two hits and two walks, while striking out 9.  With the 5-0 victory, CC improved his record to 12-7.  He has clearly shown why he was signed to a huge contract in the offseason.  When the stakes are high, CC rises to the occasion and has given the Yankees the ace they’ve been lacking for so many years.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

With the win, the Yankees have improved their lead over the Red Sox to 5 ½ games (their greatest lead of the season).

 

 

 

Clay Buchholz did pitch effectively for the Red Sox.  He went six innings and gave up only two runs.  It was a tough luck loss for Buchholz but he showed enough to prove that he is ready to assume the role in the starting rotation that was vacated when John Smoltz was DFA’d.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

Derek Jeter capped the Yankees scoring with a two-run homer in the 8th.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

It is hard to believe that the Yankees have held the Red Sox scoreless for 24 innings.  For whatever reason, this isn’t the same Red Sox squad that the Yankees faced and lost to earlier in the season.  More than likely, it is a momentary lull, much like the Yankees against the White Sox or earlier against the Angels.  I fully expect the Red Sox to rebound and they’ll be charging by the time the Yankees and Red Sox resume play at Fenway Park on August 21st.

 

Winslow Townson/AP

 

I realize that the tie-breaker for my wager with Julia is no longer a concern, but I’ll continue to post the totals through Sunday.  Hey, what can I say, the numbers look good to me and as they say, numbers don’t lie…

RUNNING TOTALS  (8/06 – 8/09) FOR TIE-BREAKER:

Runs

Red Sox                                  6

Yankees                                  20

 

Home Runs

Red Sox                                  2

Yankees                                  6

 

Wins

Red Sox                                  0

Yankees                                  3

 

Winner:                                 Scott!

 

Tomorrow’s pitching match-up has Jon Lester facing Andy Pettitte.  This will be a tough game for the Yanks…and Pettitte.  But with three wins, the Yankees no longer have a psychological disadvantage to Boston.  They now know that they can win (beat Boston), and that will go a long way as we move into the crunch months. 

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

Today’s announced crowd was 48,796.  It was another sell-out, so the Yankees can thank John Henry for filling the seats and helping pay for the salaries of Sabathia, Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

The Yankees did make a roster move today as they sent down Mark Melancon to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre and recalled pitcher Josh Towers.  Apparently, Towers is out of options and will be DFA’d tomorrow to make room for pitcher Chad Gaudin who was acquired from the San Diego Padres.  If Towers clears waivers, he’ll head back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

 

thetimes-tribune.com

 

With last night’s game winning home run, Alex Rodriguez tied Harmon Killebrew for 9th place on the All-Time Home Run List with 573.  Next stop will be 8th place – Mark McGwire, 583 home runs.

 

 

As for tonight’s home run, Derek Jeter now has 12 home runs…one more than all of last season.  This has been a great year for DJ, particularly since it started with so much talk about how he was beginning his decline…

 

 

Hey Julia, the Yankees will be in Boston on August 21st.  Are you ready for another wager?  Why do I ask, of course, she’ll be ready and so to, I suspect, will the Red Sox.  But for now, scoreboard Yankees!…scoreboard ME! 

 

–Scott

 

 

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