September 2009

Next Round, please…

 

First Objective…Complete!…

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Yankees claimed the 2009 American League Eastern Division Championship with a 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.  The win also assured the Yanks of the best record in the AL, which will allow them to choose their play-off format to maximize the use of a 3-man rotation.

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

The win was the Yankees 100th of the season.  This was so improbable at the start of the season when Alex Rodriguez was sidelined for six weeks due to hip surgery, the Boston Red Sox were invincible against the Yanks in winning their first 8 meetings, and the bullpen was in a complete state of flux.

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

Fast forward to September 27th and the Yankees were spilling champagne all over the Yankee Stadium clubhouse floor.  What a great way to christen the new Stadium!

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Sorry, Big Papi, no champagne for you in New York!

 

 

Joe Girardi gets my vote for AL Manager of the Year.  The only other possible consideration, in my mind, is Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire if the Twins can overtake the Detroit Tigers in the final days of the season.

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

The Red Sox may be focused on playing in October but for a day, the Yankees could relax and enjoy knowing they are the division champs and can now look forward to the next level…the ALDS against the Tigers or Twins.

 

Credit:  AP 

 

I would have excused the Yankees for a loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday night, but the Hangover Guys continued their winning ways with an 8-2 victory and 101st win.

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

It was a fantastic sports weekend for me.  Born and raised in an Iowa farming community, I have been a lifelong fan of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.  Growing up, 3-8 seasons under coach Bob Commings were the norm.  But then Texan Hayden Fry came to Iowa City and the uniforms were updated to their current Steelers-like design.  Even Herky the Hawk received a facelift.  Hayden instilled a winning pride at the school.  This year, the Hawkeyes started the season by barely overcoming the University of Northern Iowa, but followed it with two victories, including a win against bitter in-state rival Iowa State Cyclones.  Unranked, they went to State College, PA on Saturday night, and emerged with a 21-10 win over the 5th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.  Very exciting!

 

Credit:  Matthew Holst/Press-Citizen

 

But clearly Sunday was the day.  Besides the Yankees’ division championship, the highlight reel featured Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.  With 2 seconds left, Brett Favre fired a 32-yard TD pass into the end zone which was hauled in by Greg Lewis.  The Vikings prevailed 27-24.  After watching Favre turn excitement into bitterness for so many years, it was nice to experience a reversal of fortune.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit:  Pioneer Press 

 

This just might be a good sports year for me…  J

 

 

 

Correction:  As Greg of Red Sox Ramblings astutely pointed out, I misidentified Jason Varitek in my last blog.  Varitek wears #33, not #37.  I had crossed his age with his uniform number.  My apologies to the RSN.  But guess what, Tek’s still old!  ;)

Mission (nearly) Accomplished!…

 

The day brought several victories on the homefront…

 

Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP

 

The Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3-0, on Saturday behind the stellar pitching of CC Sabathia.  The game featured the potent formula that the Yankees hope will take them deep into October.

CC Sabathia + Phil Hughes + Mariano Rivera = Win, Hold, and Save!

CC was locked into a pitchers’ duel with Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Dice-K pitched masterfully on the day.  His only mistake was a pitch left out over the plate with Robinson Cano batting to lead off the 6th inning.  Cano took advantage of the opportunity, and gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead with his career high 24th home run of the season.  It would be the only run that CC needed.

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

It would have been the final score except for an error in the 8th inning by Red Sox third baseman Chris Woodward.  The Sox had speedster Brett Gardner caught in a rundown between third and home, but Woodward couldn’t handle a throw from catcher Victor Martinez.

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

 

The play extended the inning and allowed Johnny Damon to bat after Derek Jeter struck out with the bases loaded.  Damon delivered a two-run single to raise the score to 3-0.

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

I realize that Red Sox manager Terry Francona is playing for October, as evidenced by his starting lineup (possible future Yankees left fielder Jason Bay had the day off).  Nevertheless, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is clearly playing for the AL East Championship.  I am sure that once the Yanks clinch the division, we’ll see a lineup that includes Shelley Duncan, Juan Miranda, and Ramiro Pena, with Josh Towers on the mound.  For now, the Magic Number is 1 and the Yankees have a game to win.

 

 

Their next victory will be the 100th of the season.  Joe Girardi’s second season has been very successful, so far.  CC has played a huge role (no pun intended) in the team’s success.  I know Zack Greinke is being highly touted for the AL Cy Young Award, but the Kansas City Royals reside in the cellar of the AL Central.  Without Greinke, they’d still be among the AL’s worst teams.  Felix Hernandez has also pitched great this season, but the Mariners season will be coming to an end in about a week.  CC Sabathia, on the other hand, has the Yankees at the doorstep of the AL East Championship.  Without CC, it’s likely the AL East pennant chase would have been much closer or perhaps Boston would have been in the lead.  So, in my mind, CC has made a much greater difference on his team’s success than Greinke or King Felix.  Admittedly, the Cy Young is for individual accomplishment, but CC leads the AL with 19 wins and is fourth in ERA (3.21).  He hasn’t lost a game since late July and he has been the true definition of an ace for the Yankees.  I know that Greinke has an ERA of 2.08, with 229 strikeouts, but seriously, there’s more pressure pitching in the Bronx against the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays than facing the Chicago White Sox in Kansas City.

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

 

By taking the first two games of the latest series, the Yankees accomplished several objectives besides cutting the Magic Number to 1.  First, I am the winner of the latest wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  As her penalty for losing, Julia will once again grace us with a pro-Yankees blog entry.  She’ll post a list of Top 11 Yankees players, past or present (and can include managers).  The list will be in no certain order or ranking; she can simply choose 11 Yankees she feels have made a difference in the game.  I would like to see a mix of different eras, including the present, but it will be up to Julia to decide.  She will also be forced to wear a Yankees t-shirt in photographs near famous Boston landmarks.  The pink Yankees hat is optional.

 

 

I had a tough time trying to decide what t-shirt Julia should wear.  My initial thought was to go with the player I felt was most instrumental in the series win.  Despite CC’s great performance yesterday, the table was set on Friday night with the hitting (and stealing) show put on by Alex Rodriguez.  However, A-Rod has certain past indiscretions that made him an illogical choice.  I thought about Robinson Cano or CC, but I really wanted someone that represented the Yankees like no other.  With that in mind, the choice became clear.  “I’m Not A Headline Guy” is a tribute to Lou Gehrig so it is only right that Julia must wear a #4 jersey…

 

Lou Gehrig Yankees MLB Prostyle Player T-shirt

 

The second benefit of the Yankees victory is they have denied the Red Sox the opportunity to break champagne on Yankee Stadium soil.  If they had clinched the Wild Card slot while in the Bronx, they would have become the first team to break bubbly at the new stadium.  However, with two Sox losses and a win by the Texas Rangers yesterday, Boston’s Magic Number stands at 3, making it impossible to clinch on Sunday.  As a result, the Yankees are the only team with the chance to spill some champagne today so life is good…

 

Champagne.JPG

 

Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe wrote “Today might be a good day to employ the half-full theory.  Cover your eyes, let the Yankees celebrate, and think about October”.

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

Yes, today is our day to celebrate.  It is time for the Yankees to put closure on the AL East Championship!  Tomorrow, we can join the RSN in thinking about October!

 

 

By the way, nice play by Boston’s Victor Martinez. 

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

It’s the changing of the guard in Boston, as Jason Varitek makes his way to the exit door.  Tek has been a worthy opponent, and I am sure that we’ve not seen the last of #37 who is a future manager waiting to happen…

 

Credit:  Boston.com

 

Go Yankees!

 

Credit:  Simmons/Daily News

 

P.S.  Congratulations to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes for their 21-10 victory over the fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday night.  The Hawkeyes upset Penn State last year, so the Nittany Lions were seeking revenge.  It was not meant to be as the unranked Hawks moved to 4-0 on the season.  As a lifetime Hawkeyes fan, success has been very fleeting so it’s always a great time when they can play with the big boys.  J

 

Credit:  Matthew Holst/Press Citizen

 

P.S.S.  Good luck to A.J. Burnett’s father, who undergoes surgery on Monday.  Bill Burnett will have triple-bypass surgery.  A.J.’s start was pushed back to Tuesday so that he could make the trip to Arkansas to be with his dad.  Best wishes for a successful surgery, followed by a speedy recovery!

 

Credit:  abcnews.com

Us Against Them…

The” Rivalry continues…

 

 

When I was a kid, the Yankees chief rival seemed to fluctuate between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.  But for the last decade (or so it seems), the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has been the most intense rivalry in sports.  Well, at least from my perspective…

 

 

I lived in Dallas during the early 1990’s so I enjoyed the passion and the fire of the rivalry between the Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.  I hated the 49ers during those years.  But in the grand scheme of things, the rivalry was short-lived since it is hard to maintain dominance in the parity-balanced NFL.

 

 

 

Now, residing near San Francisco, I recently attended a game between the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Dodgers-Giants rivalry has been billed as very intense, but the game felt like a little league game compared to Yankees-Red Sox. 

 

 

 

So, this is a great time to be a fan of the Yankees…or if you must, HER team…

 

 

Tonight, the Yankees made it ‘Advantage Scott’ in the latest wager between Julia and me.  The Yankees emerged victorious with a 9-5 victory over the Red Sox to take the first game of a three-game set.

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP

 

First and foremost, I want to say that I am glad Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was not seriously hurt tonight.   He took a liner off the bat of Melky Cabrera in the 3rd inning, and the ball struck near his right knee.  He collapsed to the ground in pain, but X-Rays showed that he had suffered only a contusion in the quadriceps above the right knee.  I may “hate” the Red Sox, but Lester has been one of my favorite players.  He has been fantastic this season and he continues his progression toward elite status.  Not that I want the Red Sox to do well in the play-offs , but Lester is vital to their success and I am glad that he’ll be ‘in the game’.

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP 

 

After starting the season 0-8 against the Red Sox, the Yankees have won 7 of 8.  It has been a complete reversal of the early season results.  Hopefully, the trend continues into October because these two teams are destined to meet again.

The Yankees started the scoring first with a run in the bottom of the first inning.  Derek Jeter had left off the inning with a single and advanced with a stolen base, the first of 7 bags swiped on the night.  With two outs, Alex Rodriguez scored Jeter with a single.  It would prove to be a big night for the man who was almost a Red Sox (or is it Sock?) as he also had a two-run homer in the third and a run-scoring double in the sixth.  His homer in the third set a Yankees single season record for most home runs at home with 127.  Home sweet home…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

After missing all of April and part of May, A-Rod has a shot for 100 RBI’s.  With 4 RBI’s tonight against the Red Sox, he has 93 with 8 games left.  Very impressive…

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP

 

A-Rod, of all people, had three stolen bases.

 

 

It was a quality start for Joba Chamberlain, who went 6 innings.  He gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, and 1 walk.  He struck out 5.  The performance earned Joba his 9th victory of the season (against 6 losses).   He is clearly slotted for the bullpen when the play-offs begin (assuming that the Yankees win best record and their pick of the ideal play-off format), but it is good to see him regain a good form.

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP 

 

Hey Jonathan Albaladejo, I hear that the Pittsburgh Pirates are very interested in you.  I’d go with them if I were you.

 

Outside of the performance of a future Pirates pitcher, it was a good night for the Yanks bullpen.  A return to good health for David Robertson is all that this unit needs for October success.  He didn’t pitch tonight, but I am still amazed that I am blessed to see the Hall of Fame career of closer Mariano Rivera.  He caught the opening pitch by Panamanian president  Ricardo Martinelli, who wore the prestigious #42 jersey.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

I felt that the only thing the Yankees needed to do to win the AL East was to win one game of this series, so that objective has been achieved.  But my fear remains.  If the Red Sox clinch the Wild Card slot during this series, they could become the first team to celebrate with champagne on the new Yankee Stadium grounds.  The thought of that is horrific.  Maybe the Sox won’t celebrate the Wild Card (like the Yankees win they clinched the play-off spot).  After all, the Red Sox have won 2 of the last 5 World Series so just making the play-offs is no longer an excitement in Boston.  Their magic number remains 3 with the loss, and a Texas Rangers win (they beat the long-forgotten Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3).  All it takes is any combination of Red Sox wins and Ranger losses to clinch the Wild Card spot, so the risk of Sox champagne on Yankees carpet is very high.  Of course, a Yankees sweep would give the Bronx Bombers the AL East Championship so that would be a great defensive mechanism!

 

 

Alright, one down, two to go.  Let’s go Yankees!  J

 

No. 2 Is Just Fine…

When is Number 2 quite acceptable?…

 

Number 2.JPG

 

It’s not the Boston Red Sox who move closer to clinching at least a Wild Card berth.   It’s not the Yankees who lead the American League East by 6 games.  Finally, the Yankees number 2 starter, A.J. Burnett, has successfully righted the ship…

 

Chris Carlson/AP

 

After struggling in August, A.J. turned in his second consecutive solid start by pitching into the sixth inning, giving up 7 hits but only 2 runs.  He struck out 11 batters (just one shy of his season high).   The Yankees need an effective Burnett as they move into October, and his recent performances have shown that he is up to the task.  The Yankees made a 3-run 4th inning hold up today as they defeated the Angels, 3-2.

 

Chris Carlson/AP 

 

Following Burnett were a bevy of relievers, but the most notable was Ian Kennedy.  Kennedy entered in the 8th inning to make his 2009 season debut.  Kennedy had surgery for an aneurysm in his right armpit in May.  I am not so sure that I would have gone to Kennedy in a tight situation, with the Yankees leading by 1.  However, manager Joe Girardi must have felt that he had no choice due to a depleted pen.  Kennedy made it interesting with 2 walks and a hit batter to load the bases, but he avoided any damage by getting Erick Aybar to fly out ending the inning.  Congrats to Ian for a successful return.  I have been critical of Kennedy in the past, but he has the talent to succeed.

 

Chris Carlson/AP 

Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th to close it out for his 42nd save.  With the victory, the Yankees took 2 of 3 games in Anaheim, and proved that they can win in the Angels backyard.  I was very worried about this road trip going in since the Mariners had a winning record and have historically played the Yankees very tough at Safeco Field and prior to this series, the Yankees had not won a game in Anaheim this year.  The Yankees did struggle in Seattle after Friday night’s walk-off homer by Ichiro, but the two wins in Anaheim salvaged a 3-3 record on the road trip.  All things considered, I am very happy with the result.

 

 

 

After losing ground over the weekend to the Red Sox, the Yankees were able to pick up one game during the Angel series.   Therefore, they head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the Red Sox and a 6 game lead.  Mathematically, the Red Sox still have a chance to win the AL East, however, the odds are against them.  At some point, Red Sox manager Terry Francona will begin resting his regulars to get ready for, as Julia puts it, Soxtober.   It obviously won’t happen this weekend, but so long as the Yankees don’t get swept, I think they’ll take the AL East crown. 

 

 

The Yankees have possibly lost supersub Jerry Hairston, Jr.   Batting in the 7th inning, he felt something pop in his wrist and left the game.   He will be undergoing a MRI but it doesn’t sound good.   Ramiro Pena has quite possibly landed in the very high profile position as October approaches.  Maybe a call should be placed to Brian Doyle to be Ramiro’s private coach…

 

 

 

The Yankees have pushed CC Sabathia back by one day so that he properly aligns with the start of the play-offs.  Joba Chamberlain will take CC’s place as Friday night’s starter against the Red Sox and Jon Lester.  CC will pitch on Saturday.

 

I have to say that I get excited every time Brett Gardner gets on base.  He is simply the most exciting Yankee to watch on the base paths.  In Tuesday night’s game, he stole a base (on a pitch out) in the 9th inning and scored the winning run on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly.  Gardner, with a dirt stained jersey, is becoming common place, and he is always instrumental in making things happen.  He may not be a starter, but he is invaluable to the 2009 Yankees.   As A-Rod said, Gardner is a pain in the butt, and we wouldn’t want it any other way…

 

 

As the Boston Red Sox head for the Bronx, this weekend will pit…

I’m A Headline Guy

 

VS.

 

Julia’s Rants

We are ready to engage in our final match of the regular season.  After early season success, Julia has found the last couple of months to be very Yankee-oriented.  Let’s hope that trend continues.  Plus, Julia is just so good at writing about the Yankees.  We need to see more of the same!  J  Hey Julia, the time has arrived, Game On!

 

yankees.jpg image by Skee-Skee

 

For Julia, I am glad to see that one of her personal favorites, Tim Wakefield, will be starting next Tuesday night.  Wake has had a great season, but he has had some unfortunate setbacks health-wise that prevented this from being one of his most successful seasons.  He is a good guy, even if he plays for THAT team, and I do wish him the best for his next start.  This is a guy who was once cut by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but has carved out a tremendous career for the Red Sox.

 

AP 

So, now it’s time for the resumption of THE series.  Bring on the Red Sox.  We’re ready…

 

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott

Running Out Of Gas…

 

Aargh!  It’s frustrating watching the Yankees struggle…

 

 

Meanwhile, the Red Sox just creeping closer and closer.  Fortunately, a never-say-die Kansas City Royals squad fought back from an 8-2 deficit to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 12-9.  The loss kept the Red Sox from drawing even closer, but the Yankees aren’t doing anything to help themselves.

 

 

The team that has been so hot since the All-Star Break has suddenly gone into the deep freeze.  Road trips are never fun, and this one has been particularly brutal.  Of course, it doesn’t help when Joba Chamberlain drives off the deep end or Andy Pettitte tries to pitch through a fatigued shoulder.

 

 

 

With the Angels’ 5-2 win tonight, the Yankees are just be 4 games up on the Red Sox in the loss column, with three to play this coming weekend.  The division is certainly up for grabs, yet the Yankees only need one elusive victory to secure a play-off spot.  I am glad that the Rangers won tonight because I’d hate to see the Yankees stumble their way into the play-offs.  They need to earn it outright.

 

 

 

For this weekend’s Yankees-Red Sox series, I have once again made a wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  The loser must post the usual Top 11 posting, and this time, it is comprised of 11 special Yankee or Red Sox players (in no particular order or rank).  If Julia loses, she must write 11 short bio’s about past or present Yankees, and vice versa for me.  Also, continuing with the theme of photos in “enemy” territory, we’ll go with enemy t-shirts at meaningful landmarks in our specific locations.  That means Julia would need to wear a Yankees t-shirt in Boston.  Since I live near a National League city, my punishment would be wearing a Dodgers t-shirt in San Francisco.  However, I would also have to wear a Red Sox hat to stay true to the theme.  Wearing a Red Sox t-shirt just wouldn’t get the same reaction in San Francisco as the Dodgers would, so that’s why we are going with a slight variation.  Granted, it would still be more painful to wear Yankees gear in Boston than it would be to wear Dodgers gear in San Francisco, but it still wouldn’t be a fun experience either way.  Hopefully, my guys will turn it around before the weekend gets here.

 

 Boston Massachusetts

 

Chad Gaudin has finally replaced Sergio Mitre as the Yanks’ #5 starter.  My only reaction…it’s about time.  Gaudin is nothing to write home about, but he has been a better option than Mitre if you throw out the single good start at the end of August.

 

 

 

The Yankees had their annual rookie hazing.  Mark Melancon was Batman, video coordinator Anthony Flynn was Robin, massage therapist Lou Potter was the Penguin, radar gun operator Lou Potter was the Joker, Mike Dunn was the Riddler, and Ramiro Pena made his debut as Catwoman…

 

Yankees hazing rookies

Bryan Hoch/MLB.com

Yankees batman hazing rookies

Ted S. Warren/AP

 

Now, if they could only start winning…

 

Huh? That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!…

A bitter taste…


Loser3.JPG 

Finally, A.J. Burnett was pitching like the guy that the Yankees expected when they signed him as a free agent in the off-season.  After a series of poor starts, he had dominating stuff last night and was in position for a win.  He went 7 innings, and gave up only 1 run on 7 hits.  He struck out 6, and walked only 3.  He was leading 2-1 at the time of his exit, and the Yankees seemed to be in control despite the close score.

 

Ted S. Warren/AP

 

The 8th saw a business-as-usual performance from Phil Hughes, with 3 up and 3 down.

 

Mariano Rivera appeared very loose in the bullpen prior to his entrance in the 9th.  The stage was set for another save on his way to Cooperstown.  Even the Seattle-based announcers made a comment that they should just waive the 5 year waiting period for Mo when he retires.  Mo easily set down the first two batters (getting the second, Mike Carp, out on his 1,000th career strikeout), but then pinch hitter Mike Sweeney stroked a double to right.  Okay, there were two outs, the Yanks were still in good shape.  Only Ichiro stood in the way of their 95th victory.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  Mo tried to go inside on a cutter but left the pitch out too much, and Ichiro got a hold of it and sent it into the outfield bleachers for the game-winning home run.  The Mariners walked off with a 3-2 victory…

 

Ted S. Warren/AP

 

Mo saw his string of 36 consecutive saves snapped.  The only other time he has failed to convert a save this season was in April on a Jason Bay home run.

 

Sipkin/New York Daily News 

 

Ichiro may have been picked off twice in the game, but he clearly got the last laugh…

 

Ted S. Warren/AP

With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Red Sox shrank to 6 games.  This is definitely a tough stretch.  The Yankees are on a difficult road trip against winning teams and in cities they historically have troubles with.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox are playing the lifeless Orioles, and then move on to Kansas City for face the punchless Royals for four games.  Both the O’s and Royals stand at 87 losses prior to today’s games.  So, the Yankees’ three-game series against the Red Sox next weekend looms as the big AL East showdown.  It is very possible that the Red Sox may be in position to determine who enters the play-offs as the AL East champion and who backdoors it as the Wild Card entrant.  The Yankees’ magic number remains at 10, but their magic number for making the play-offs dropped to 3 with the Rangers’ loss to the Angels.  That one was a double-edged sword as the Angels gained a game on the Yanks for best record.  So, needless to say, Ichiro’s hit made for a very difficult night on many fronts.

 

 

Hopefully, the Yanks will show their mettle and rebound today with CC Sabathia taking the hill in search of his 18th victory.  Let’s hope it’s the Yanks’ 95th

 

 

I still can’t believe that the great Peter Abraham (who has been referred to as the “blogfather”) is leaving the LoHud Yankees Blog to go to work for the Boston Globe and write about the dreaded Red Sox…  L

 

Disbelief.JPG

 

The oldest living Yankee has passed away,  Lonny Frey, who played with the Yankees in the 1947 World Series, was a three-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds in the 30’s and 40’s.  Frey died on Sunday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at the age of 99.  He was the last surviving player to play for the Yankees, the New York Giants, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 

Courtesy Richard Hirschman

 

Frey’s passing leaves Tommy Henrich, 96, as the oldest living Yankee.  Henrich played his entire career with the Yankees from 1937 to 1950.  He is the last surviving member of the World Champion 1938 Yankees.

 

193820Crosetti2C20Rolfe2C20Henrich2.jpg 1938 New York Yankees image by BillBurgess

Courtesy Bill Burgess

 

Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.  Andy missed his last start due to a “fatigued” shoulder, and hopefully, the rest has helped him.  Andy will be a huge part of what the Yanks will try to accomplish in October.  It was good to hear that he has reached most of his incentives to allow him to nearly double his $5 million salary for the year.  He has certainly earned his pay (relatively speaking of course, because $5 mil is a heck of a lot of money any way you slice it!).

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger 

Speaking of rest, reliever David Robertson, who was shut down for elbow stiffness, appears to be on track for a return by the final week of the season.  He is another arm that will be crucial to October success.  I am glad that his visit to Dr. Andrews did not reveal more serious problems and that rest was the prescribed treatment.  Robertson has been great in the pen this year.

 

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

Today is a new day.  Let’s get back to winning…

 

 

–Scott

No Time for Sleepless in Seattle…

A well deserved day off while the Yankees head to Seattle…

 

 

Speaking of Seattle, I am always appreciative of the fact that Tom Paciorek no longer plays baseball.  For my generation, he was the original Yankee killer.  I know that there were many before him and many since, however, he was the first player that I personally witnessed as a single-handed destruction force against anything pinstripe-related.

 

paciorektom81d.jpg image by worldwideed

 

It was an interesting week.  Monday saw the Yankees defeat their nemesis, the Los Angeles Angels, in a makeup of the May 3rd rainout.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

Tuesday was a mess.  A brawl left Jorge Posada and Shelley Duncan with three-game suspensions.  Posada, who had taken exception to an earlier pitch, threw an elbow at Jays pitcher Jesse Carlson, while scoring on a double by Brett Gardner.  There were several bench clearing moments, and the latter occurred following the elbow by Posada.  Hitting coach Kevin Long and pitcher Edwar Ramirez were also fined for their involvement in the fracas.  Any way you slice it, it was an ugly representation of baseball.  The Yankees dropped the game, 10-4.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

Wednesday, the teams were more amenable to each other.  The Yankees fell behind the Jays early and trailed 4-2 in the 7th inning.  I had started to become concerned that the Yanks were on the verge of their second consecutive loss, but Hideki Matsui allayed my fears with a two-run homer in the 8th to tie the game.  At that point, I had confidence that the team would mount yet another walk-off win.  I was not denied, although I was a bit surprised by the source.  I will first start by saying I love watching Brett Gardner work the base paths.  Following a lead-off single in the 9th inning, he stole second.  Derek Jeter grounded out to short, but it advanced Gardner, the winning run, to 3rd.  That brought catcher Francisco Cervelli to the plate.  His single to left scored Gardner, and the Yankees had a new recipient for the pie of the day…

 

Yankees tangle in positive way thanks to Francisco Cervelli.

Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

This morning, I was looking at the AL East standings, and was surprised to see that the Red Sox were only 5 games behind the Yanks in the loss column.  Boston has been playing very well lately as evidenced by the 7-game winning streak.  Julia is quick to note that this team reminds her of the 2004 and 2007 World Championship clubs, and the way they’ve been playing, I do not necessarily disagree.  Nevertheless, I have confidence in my guys and their ‘no-quit’ determination.   Given that the Texas Rangers have performed the baseball equivalent of hara-kiri, there is no much mystery left regarding whether the Yankees and Red Sox will make the play-offs.  The only question is who will take the AL East crown, and right now, the Yankees have the advantage.  The Yankees continue their quest for the best record in the AL, but they cannot lose sight of the team in their rearview mirror.  I learned long ago not to underestimate the Red Sox.

 

 

 

The Red Sox did see the end of their 7-game winning streak tonight, as they were clipped by the Angels, 4-3.  The Yankees magic number has been reduced to 10, although the Angels were able to pick up a ½ game on the Yanks.

 

Charles Krupa/AP 

The Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees were unable to defend their International League crown.  They were swept in the finals tonight by the Durham Bulls with a 3-2 loss in the third and final game.  The Yankees did pick up championships in two other minor leagues.  Class A Tampa won the Florida State League, while the Staten Island Yankees won the New York/Penn League.  I’m thinking “three’s company”, so let’s go big league Yanks!

In a somewhat shocking announcement, Peter Abraham of the Yankees LoHud Yankees Blog announced that he will be moving to Boston to work for the Boston Globe.  His blog has long been one of my personal favorites, and I will miss his Yankees insight.  I am sure that he’ll provide Red Sox fans with the same robust and reliable information that we Yankee fans have been accustomed to, not to mention the quick wit.   Pete Abe made a comment that some will call him a traitor, but I will not.  He is a class act, and his decision was made for family reasons, which is a very admirable trait.  I would like to thank him for his work over the years, and I wish him the very best in Boston.  Of course, he’ll miss out on writing about the 2009 World Series Champions…

 

 

My fantasy football team faces a huge dilemma this weekend.  My starting QB is Tom Brady, while my defense is the Jets D.  So, I have one player working against another since the Patriots face the Jets this weekend.  Who do I pull for?  Yikes!  As an 0-1 team (thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle), I have to hope that best case scenario plays out.

 

 

 

I will close with a photo of my pride and joy.  She has been the master of self portraits since she was very small, and has developed a great sense of humor (despite her dad)…

 

 

–Scott

Another Passing Grade for the Test…

I missed a great game…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

I should have been in attendance at Monday’s game between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels in the Bronx.  I had gone to the May 3rd game that was rained out, so my ticket would have been good for Monday’s game which was the make-up game.  I had it all laid out perfectly.  I had requested Monday and Tuesday off from work, so that I could stay at the Stadium until the bitter end.  Unfortunately (baseball-wise, not personally), I relocated from the East Coast to California so a trip to New York City was not in the cards.  I missed an outstanding game as a result of my attempt to improve the circumstances of my life.

 

 

I realize that it was only one game.  However, the Yankees, for one night, showed that they could beat the Angels at their own game.  It lifted a huge monkey off the Yankees’ back, and they know that they can beat the Angels.  On a double-steal in the 8th inning, Brett Gardner racing to third, broke for home when catcher Mike Napoli’s throw to third sailed into left field, scoring the go-ahead run.  Alex Rodriguez reached third on the play, and scored on Robinson Cano’s RBI single.  As a result, the Yankees emerged with a 5-3 victory over their nemesis.

 

 

Meanwhile, Scott was sitting in Northern California wondering what could have been…

 

 

The Yankees couldn’t parlay the win into a victory tonight as they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-3.  But for one night, they can be excused.  Unfortunately, the Red Sox creep (and I use that word for its multiple meanings) one game closer to the Yankees.  So, the so-called Magic Number remains at 12.  The Rangers did lose, so the Yankees did move closer to the guaranteed Wild Card slot. 


Victory1.JPG 

What about the Rays?  The schedule makers have slotted the Yankees to begin AND end the 2010 season against the Boston Red Sox.  I guess there will be more fun and games for my friend, Julia, and I.  Julia is very quick to tell me that the Yankees will end their season THIS year against the Red Sox, but I know that my friend lives in a fantasy world…

 

 

Fantasy.JPG

 

Last night, baseball aside, was tough.  I did not expect to hear the news that Patrick Swayze had died.  Yes, I knew that he was battling pancreatic cancer, but Patrick has long been one of my heroes.  I felt if anyone could beat cancer, it was Patrick.  I became a Swayze fan during The Outsiders, and I remained a true fan through his final appearances in the TV series, The Beast.  I remember feeling a loss when he died in Ghost even though his spirit succeeded in reaching out to his true love and eliminating his enemies.  Now, the feeling is loss is permanent and it stinks, to say the least.  Julia mentioned to me that Patrick had a way of appealing to men and women.  I don’t disagree with that.  He was always one of my heroes, and he will remain someone who lived by the standards that I will always strive to achieve.  This one will be tough to overcome…Patrick will be missed…

 

 

Whoa!  I can’t believe my favorite tennis player, Roger Federer, lost the U.S. Open against Juan Martin Del Potro.  Congratulations to Del Potro, but hopefully Roger will return to his rightful throne in the not-so-distant future.  My brother was in attendance at the Open, and I should have been there, but the move to CA kind of got in the way.  Sorry Roger, I let you down…

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

Back to baseball, there’s not much drama regarding the AL East Champion and the Wild Card except who will fill which role.  Clearly, the Yankees have the advantage, but the Red Sox are not out of contention…not if they keep winning.  But the Rangers are done.  They are losing tonight to the Oakland A’s and probably won’t be mounting a miraculous comeback.  So, despite the Yankees’ loss, they will still gain ground on the Rangers for the Wild Card.  As Julia is quick to mention, it doesn’t matter how you get into the play-offs…

 

AP

 

The Yankees announced that they’ll skip Andy Pettitte’s next start due to a fatigued left shoulder.  I think this is a case of Yankee conservatism, and Pettitte would pitch if the situation were dire.  I just wish that they’d quit trotting Sergio Mitre out there…

 

Chris Sweda/MCT

Hey, I am just glad that we’ll be playing October baseball again.  But I gotta admit, I like this team…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

When You Need A Stopper, Call The Big Guy…

 

You talkin’ to me?…

 

DeNiro.JPG

 

After dropping two games to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees averted a sweep by clobbering the O’s 13-3 on Sunday.  As usual, the stopper was CC Sabathia.  It wasn’t a great performance but it was enough to help CC pick up his 17th victory of the season (against 7 losses).  CC went 7 innings and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs.  He walked 4 and struck out only 1 batter.  Still, CC showed why he is the ace of the staff…

 

Mark Lennihan/AP

The game saw the ejections of Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi.  A-Rod took a called third strike to end the fourth inning with the bases loaded.  He felt that the pitch was outside.  He continued jawing with the umpire, Marty Foster, about the call, particularly after watching a video replay following the top of the 5th which confirmed his belief that the pitch was outside.  Foster finally had enough and tossed A-Rod and then Manager Joe Girardi, who argued very animatedly the umpire.

 

Mark Lennihan/AP 

 

There is bad blood between the Yankees and Foster, who also made a bad call on Derek Jeter in July.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

Chris Faytock/The Star Ledger 

 

Eric Hinske took over for A-Rod at third after the ejection, but fortunately, it worked out in the end.  Thanks to an 8-run 8th, which included a three-run homer by Matsui, the Yankees put this one away and assured a return to the win column.

 

Mark Lennihan/AP

 

Nonetheless, they will still lose a ½ game to the Boston Red Sox, who swept the Tampa Bay Rays today.  The Yankees now lead Boston by 7 games.  How sad is it that the Rays have now lost 11 straight games?  The magic of 2008 is definitely gone.

 

Winslow Townson/AP

 

The Yankees’ lead over the Los Angeles Angels for best record in the league stands at 5 games.

 

Mark J. Terrill/AP

 

This is an interesting week schedule-wise.  The Yankees will play one game against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.  This is a make-up of the May 3rd rainout at Yankee Stadium.  I remember that day well considering that I was in attendance at Yankee Stadium.  I won’t be able to take advantage of my ticket tomorrow since I’ve since relocated from the East Coast to California, but I’ll definitely be there in spirit.  The last time the Yankees faced the Angels, they were swept (final series before the All-Star Break).  This is just one game, but the Yankees have a chance to make a statement against the Angels.  Joba Chamberlain (8-5) faces Jered Weaver (15-5).

 

Joba Chamberlain

Taylor Public Relations 

 

Then, the Yankees close out the home stand with two games against the Toronto Blue Jays.  They travel across the country on Thursday to open a three-game weekend series in Seattle against the Mariners.

 

Behind home plate at Safeco Field 

 

Congratulations to Brett Favre for his first victory with the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings defeated the Cleveland Browns and Favre’s former coach, Eric Mangini, 34-20, on Sunday.

 

Mark Duncan/AP 

 

His stats weren’t great (14-for-21, 110 yards, 1 TD), but when you have Adrian Peterson in your backfield running for 180 yards and 3 TD’s, there’s not much you need to do. 

 

Mark Duncan/AP 

 

I was excited that Favre’s lone passing TD was to Percy Harvin.  I am excited about what Harvin means to the Vikings offense, and hopefully, this is the start of something special…

 

Mark Duncan/AP

–Scott 

TheYankee Hit King…

 

He did it.  He is the Yankees all-time hit leader.  Of course, he is only 1,500 hits behind Pete Rose…

 

Bill Kostroun/AP

 

Derek Jeter finally broke Lou Gehrig’s club record for career hits with his 2,722nd hit in the 3rd inning of tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.

George Steinbrenner issued a very classy statement:

“For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter. Game in and game out he just produces.  As historic and significant as becoming the Yankees’ all-time hit leader is, the accomplishment is all the more impressive because Derek is one of the finest young men playing the game today.

From ESPN, this is an impressive list:

Player

Hits

Derek Jeter

2,723

Lou Gehrig

2,721

Babe Ruth

2,518

Mickey Mantle

2,415

Bernie Williams

2,336

Joe DiMaggio

2,214

Don Mattingly

2,153

Yogi Berra

2,148

Obviously, there is always the question of how many hits Lou Gehrig would have had only if…

 

 

But there are two names that also stand out on the ‘only if’ list.  Mickey Mantle.  What if he had avoided alcohol and the knee problems?  Don Mattingly.  What if he hadn’t encountered the back problems?  It is so tough to get where Derek Jeter is, so tonight belongs to him.

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

If Derek had played in 1927, starting shortstop Mark Koenig probably would have been in Boston!  Julia, the Red Sox lost 103 games that year.  J

 

 

On a day where the NBA elected its greatest player ever to the Hall of Fame, the Yankees have two guys guaranteed for Cooperstown…DJ and Mariano Rivera.  Sorry A-Rod, you’ll get there, but it will take some time…

 

The games involving both the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers were postponed, so the Wild Card chase is suspended for a night.

 

 

 

As for the Yankees game, they are trailing the Baltimore Orioles, 10-4, in the 7th inning but the game is delayed.  Nevertheless, I will chalk this one up the loss column, so the Red Sox will pick up a ½ game despite their inactivity.

 

Matt Campbell/European Pressphoto Agency 

 

Speaking of Jeter, I do think that the Yankees need to do what’s right and lock him up for the remainder of his career.  He has a chance to be the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits in pinstripes…and it should be in pinstripes.  I like the fact that you can think of players like Carl Yastrzemski or Cal Ripken and you can only associate them with one team.  It should be the same with DJ.  How awful would it be to see DJ playing short for the Los Angeles Dodgers?  C’mon Hal, loosen up the purse strings and do what’s right…

 

For my usual off-topic Vikings talk (c’mon, I don’t write a Vikings blog…give me a break!), I’d like to address the Vikings’ cut of WR Bobby Wade.  Wade, who recently cut his salary in half in an effort to remain with the team AND who was the leading receiver for the past two seasons, met the wrong end of the blade this week.  Coach Brad Childress, who I am not a big fan of, decided that former Philadelphia Eagles WR Greg Lewis was a better fit.  Childress was familiar with Lewis from his Philly days, however, if you compare each player side-by-side, Wade wins.  Plus, Wade was a solid clubhouse guy.  ESPN was quick to report that if the Vikings win, all will be forgotten.  However, why would you mess with team chemistry right when the season is getting ready to begin?  It makes no sense to me.  Hopefully, Childress proves me wrong and Lewis proves to be the superior player.

 

John Bohn/Boston Globe

Also, a federal appeals court cleared the way for the Williams duo (Kevin and Pat) to play all season long despite the league’s attempt to suspend them for alleged drug use.  That is good news for the Vikings defense.  I expect this team to not only make the play-offs, but to win.  They may not make the Super Bowl, but they should have a voice in deciding who goes.  I would love for Brett Favre to end his career with a Super Bowl championship (that really feels weird typing that!), so we’ll see what happens.  All things considered, I am okay with Purple Cheeseheads…

 

 

Congrats to Michael Jordan.  We have been privileged to witness his greatness…

 

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