April 2010

Hahaha!…I Love It!…

 

It was in the Wall Street Journal so it must be true!…

 

 


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Ask my friend Julia who the most hated team in baseball is and I’m sure she will point towards the Bronx.  Sorry Julia!  According to the Wall Street Journal, the Cleveland Indians are the most hated team followed closely by…the Boston Red Sox!

 

 

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The Yankees may have finished fifth on the list (created by Nielsen Co. using an Internet algorithm), but they were better than the Red Sox (of course!) and that’s all that really matters!  The Boston Red Sox, more despised than the New York Yankees.  Ah, what a great feeling!  Just sayin’…  J

 

 

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Nice recovery by the Yankees in Baltimore.  After dropping the first game of the series in pathetic fashion, they rebounded to take the final two games by scores of 8-3 and 4-0, respectively. 

 

In the first win, the Yankees rode a season high 15 hits to victory.  CC Sabathia was off his game somewhat as he gave up 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings, but he only allowed 3 runs. 

 

 

Mark Theiler/EPA

 

 

Robinson Cano, off to a blazing start this season, homered in the third.  Like many people, I felt that this was going to be a huge year for Cano, particularly moving up to 5th in the batting order behind Alex Rodriguez.  So far, he has not disappointed.

 

 

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Mike Ricigliano/Baltimore Sun

 

The game wasn’t all smiles as the Yankees did lose catcher Jorge Posada in the second inning with a right knee contusion after he was hit by a pitch.  He won’t miss much time but he’ll be sore for a few days. 

 

 

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada (r.) walks with Joe Girardi after getting hit by Oriole's pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on Wednesday.

Burton/AP

 

Tonight, the Yankees were led by the brilliant pitching of A.J. Burnett and the continued hot hitting of Robinson Cano.  Cano, with an AL-leading batting average of .407, hit his 7th and 8th home runs of the season in the fourth and eighth innings.  With Cano’s scorching bat, it’s too bad that A-Rod and Mark Teixeira aren’t hitting at the plate.  When they get going, the Yankees are going to be very hard to stop.  Sorry Julia!

 

 

Yankees' Robinson Cano

Mark Theiler/EPA

 

After Burnett left (8 innings, 3 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts, with only one base runner getting past second base), the great Mariano Rivera finished up in a non-save opportunity.

 

It was a long road trip that saw the Yankees’ series win streak snapped in Anaheim, but they finished strong with the series win in Baltimore and an overall winning record (5-4).  Now, if somebody could just beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

 

Third base coach Tom Foley fist bumps Jason Bartlett after a triple to right field, which scored two runs in the second inning.

James Borchuck/St. Petersburg Times

 

 

The Yankees head back to the Bronx to face the Chicago White Sox in a weekend series. Hopefully, Javier Vazquez will get going against his former teammates.  It’s time for him to get the Yankee fans behind him, and start pitching like he is capable of. 

 

 

 

Off-topic alert!

 

It is no secret that I was disappointed the Minnesota Vikings passed on a quarterback of the future in the recent NFL Draft (when they could have selected Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy).  They did draft a QB in the sixth round (UAB’s Joe Webb) but he is targeted for a position switch to wide receiver.  They signed undrafted free agent QB R.J. Archer of William & Mary, but the most intriguing player is QB Ryan Perrilloux.  Ryan has been given a tryout during this weekend’s mini-camp.  He was highly touted coming out of high school in 2005.  He was considered the top prospect at the position, along with current New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez.  He went to LSU, where he played behind Oakland Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell.  Off-the-field transgressions and violation of team rules led to his suspension and subsequent ouster from the school.  He transferred to Jacksonville State where he had a largely unnoticed but successful career. 

 

 

Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI

 

I don’t know what happened at LSU, but Ryan appears to have learned from the errors in his past.  I do believe in character and attitude first, but he deserves a second chance assuming that he truly has “righted the ship”.  He shares an agent (Bus Cook) with Vikings QB Brett Favre, which may have led to the tryout with the Vikings.  He has also been seen practicing with Favre this off-season.  I wish Ryan the very best in his tryout and I hope to see both him and Favre on the field for the Vikings this fall. 

 

I hope everyone has a super fantastic weekend…including Ryan!  :)

 

–Scott

 

So Close Yet So Far Away…again…

A wasted Phil Hughes performance…

 

From the movie, Hangover

 

Hughes did his part.  Unfortunately, no one else did.  Pitching into the 6th inning with only one run allowed, Hughes saw a potential victory evaporate in the hands of relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson.

 

 

 

Thanks, in part, to a throwing error by Jorge Posada in the 8th, and a subsequent hit by Cesar Izturis, the Baltimore Orioles had the insurance run they would need to hold off a late rally by the Yankees.

 

A fielder’s choice groundout by Alex Rodriguez in the 9th inning ended the game after two runs had scored in the inning to bring the Yanks within one run, 5-4.  The blazing hot Robinson Cano was left standing in the on-deck circle.

 

 

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

 

This was a very disappointing performance by the Yankees, who have been very uninspired of late in losing four of the last five games.  Not even a Monday trip to Washington to meet President Barack Obama helped motivate the squad. 

 

 

Obama Yankees Baseball

AP 

 

After a terrific start, the Yankees are now 12-7, 2 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox have won two straight to pull within 3 games of the Yankees and into third place.

 

 

Clay Buchholz

 

Boston Globe

 

In typical Curt Schilling fashion, controversial remarks were abound as he indicated Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez was not an American League guy.  Manager Joe Girardi defended Vazquez.  “Guys are asked to analyze situations, and so they make their analysis.  We still believe Javy’s going to be successful, and he’s going to pitch at a very high level for us.”  I hope Joe’s right, but I have to admit I had the same reservations when I first heard the Yankees had re-acquired Vazquez.  His greatest successes have come in Montreal and Atlanta, both National League cities.  I am still hopeful Javy will succeed in the Bronx but the concerns and fears will remain until he proves me wrong…

 

 

The Yankees are bringing pitcher Javier Vazquez back to the Bronx...

Bazemore/AP

 

 

Hats off to San Francisco pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for outdueling the great Roy Halladay in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night.

 

 

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez th... Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

 

 

 

 

Thus Endeth The Streak…

 

He gave up two home runs and a total of four runs, and four walks over 5 1/3 innings…

 

 


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…and got the win.  Unfortunately, it was Scott Kazmir of the Los Angeles Angels and not Javier Vazquez of the New York Yankees.  Javy had worse line (5 hits, 5 runs and 3 walks in 3 2/3 innings).  This isn’t exactly what GM Brian Cashman was looking for when he traded for Vazquez in the off-season.  Perhaps the Yankees should have stayed with a ‘been there, done that’ approach and left Vazquez in Atlanta.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’ll get the biggest boos when the team returns to Yankee Stadium.  Javy is now 1-3 for the season, with an ERA of 9.00, after today’s 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

 

 

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Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

 

The loss also ended the Yankees streak of series wins to start the season.  Tied with the 1926 Yankees for the best start to the season with series wins, the 2010 missed a chance to take the record for themselves.  The Angels took two of three, also winning Friday night’s game.  The only Yankees win was Saturday’s 7-1 win behind a terrific performance by Andy Pettitte. 

 

 

Yankees Angels Baseball

 

If Vazquez has competition for boos at home, it will come from reliever Damaso Marte.  The game was still close (5-4) with Marte on the mound today.  With Yankee killer Kendry Morales at the plate, manager Joe Girardi thought about lifting Marte.  He left the dugout but changed his mind on the way to the mound and turned around.  Morales subsequently pounded a three-run homer to give the Angels their margin of victory.

 

 

Yankees Angels Baseball

 

If I can take away any positives from today’s game, it was that Angels DH Hideki Matsui did not collect his 1,000th career hit against his former team.

 

 

 

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Andrew Gombert/EPA

 

 

I am sure that somewhere far, far away, someone is enjoying the Yankees loss on her birthday…

 


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Happy Birthday to my friend, Julia!  By the way, how did the Celtics and Red Sox do for you today?  ;)  Sports aside, I hope it was a great day for you!

 

 

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I felt Friday night’s collision at home between Mark Teixeira and Angels catcher Bobby Wilson was clean albeit quite unfortunate.  It left Wilson with an ankle injury and a concussion.  Baseball can be a violent game and Teixeira was focused on scoring.  I know that there is probably no one who feels worse about what happened than Teixeira.  Well, perhaps Wilson himself.  Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery by Bobby Wilson!

 

 

Mark Teixeira

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

 

Monday the Yankees will head to Washington to meet with President Obama at the White House.  Then, it’s off to Baltimore for a three-game set in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  At 12-6, the Yankees are in second place, 1 ½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays….but 4 ½ games ahead of the fourth place Boston Red Sox.

 

Tim Wakefield tips his cap to the...

AP

 

The NFL Draft has finally concluded.  I am not a fan of the new format (Round 1 Thursday night; Rounds 2-3 Friday night; and Rounds 4-7 Saturday).  I definitely prefer the previous Saturday-Sunday format much better. 

 

As a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I was a bit underwhelmed with this year’s draft.  With the 30th pick in the first round, I thought the Vikings were in great shape to draft Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, but they opted to trade down with the Detroit Lions.  With the pick, the Lions were able to grab RB Jahvid Best who will definitely help improve Detroit’s running game.  In Detroit’s slot (second pick of the second round), the Vikings again passed on Clausen and went with Virginia cornerback Chris Cook.  Later in the second round, the Vikings traded up with the Houston Texans and drafted Stanford RB Toby Gerhart.  I can’t dispute the Vikings needed secondary help, and after losing RB Chester Taylor through free agency to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings needed a backup for Adrian Peterson.  But…

 

 

Tom Olmscheid/AP

 

I personally thought this would be a great year for the Vikings to draft a “Quarterback of the Future”.  Assuming that Brett Favre returns for at least one more year, he would have been the perfect mentor for a young QB.  The Vikings did draft a QB in the sixth round (Joe Webb from UAB), but he will most likely transition to Wide Receiver in the NFL (assuming he makes it, of course). The Vikings also signed undrafted free agent QB R.J. Archer of William & Mary but he’s nothing more than training camp fodder.  I guess I have something to look forward to in next year’s NFL Draft…

 

 

 

 

Getaway Game Blues…

 

All good things must come to an end…

 

 

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CC Sabathia’s string of superior performances sadly came to an end today, but not before the Yankees had secured their fifth series win in five tries to start the season.  The Yankees took the first two games of the series in Oakland from the A’s (on Tuesday and Wednesday nights by scores of 7-3 and 3-1). 

 

 

Alex Rodriguez

Ray Chavez/Oakland Tribune/MCT

 

In the first game, Javier Vazquez, despite still not having his best stuff, finally got his first win of the season.  Backed by a mammoth home run by Alex Rodriguez, Vazquez was able to do in Oakland what he wasn’t able to do in New York.  Win.  Hopefully, this game is the start of a sustained upward trend for Javy and he’ll soon be able to turn those Yankee Stadium boos into cheers.

 

 

Javier Vazquez

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

I was supposed to go to Wednesday night’s game, but had to cancel at the last minute.  Naturally, it was a huge night for Phil Hughes.  Like CC did earlier this season, Phil took a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  The no-hitter was broken up by Eric Chavez with a shot back to the pitcher that glanced Phil’s forearm and chest and he momentarily lost sight of the ball.  By the time, he retrieved the ball, Chavez was on first.   Not that I wanted Phil to lose his no-hitter, but I really would have been disappointed at missing the game if I had missed a historical moment (as if I wasn’t disappointed enough).  Phil lost his shut-out when he was pulled after walking Gabe Gross.  Joba Chamberlain was brought in, and he gave up a run-scoring single to Jake Fox (which scored Chavez and charged the run to Hughes since the runner was his responsibility).  Nevertheless, it was a win (made even more special for Phil by the presence of his parents at the game). 

 

 

Phil Hughes, Yankees

Cary Edmondson/US Presswire 

 

Today, the Yankees could have completed a sweep but the game got started on the wrong foot when A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.  It was a deficit that the Yankees could never overcome.  CC was solid the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. 

 

The Yankees did manage their first triple play since 1968 in the sixth inning.  With the A’s Daric Barton on second and Ryan Sweeney on first, Kurt Suzuki came to the plate again.  Suzuki hit the ball to third where A-Rod touched third base and threw to Robinson Cano at second.  Cano swiped the bag and fired the ball to first where Mark Teixeira caught it just before Suzuki arrived.  Maybe Suzuki should take some speed lessons from Brett Gardner! 

 

 

Sanchez/AP

 

The A’s Dallas Braden picked up his third win of the season with the 4-2 victory.  Outside of solo homers by Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira, he really didn’t give the Yankees anything.  Braden is definitely a rising star, but then again, when doesn’t GM Billy Beane come up with quality young pitching talent. 

 

 

Dallas Braden

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

There was a bit of controversy when Alex Rodriguez jogged across the pitching mound following a foul ball by Robinson Cano.  Braden took offense, and accused A-Rod of violating an unwritten rule not to cross the pitcher’s mound.  As much as I would like to say ‘what does it matter?’, Braden probably has a point.  It doesn’t matter that he has only 17 career wins, A-Rod should have been more respectful. 

 

The Yankees now head for Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels and Hideki Matsui.  A.J. Burnett will take the mound against Ervin Santana as the Yankees try to extend their series win streak to six series.  It’s great to see that Mark Teixeira is starting to warm up.  Hopefully, he’ll feel comfortable in his former home stadium and help propel the team to yet another series win.

 

 

Mark Teixeira seems to be breaking out of his slump with a solo home run in the sixth. But the inning's highlight was the 5-4-3 triple play initiated by Alex Rodriguez (below).

Sanchez/News

 

I am still not sure what I think about starting the NFL Draft on a Thursday night with one round.  How strange is it that three of the first five picks are Oklahoma Sooners?  Nevertheless, there were a few surprises.  The guys I wanted (Tim Tebow and Devin McCourty) went ahead of the Minnesota Vikings selection at #30.  The Denver Broncos traded up to get Tebow (Brady Quinn has gone from being a QB of the Future with the Browns to a just-for-now backup to Kyle Orton with the Broncos in a very short period of time), while the New England Patriots tabbed McCourty. 

 

 

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Bob Rosato/SI

 

So, with the 30th pick, here is the newest Minnesota Viking:  Nobody!  They traded the pick to the Detroit Lions who selected RB Jahvid Best (who would have been a great choice for the Vikings).  I hope it was worth it for the Vikes.  Disappointing…

 

 

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How many more days until my next battle with Julia of Julia’s Rants?  The Yankees head for Boston two weeks from tomorrow, so we’ll be getting ready for Round 2.  Meanwhile, I wonder how the book assignment is coming along for Julia?  Hmmmm….

 

 


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Welcome to California!…

 

The Yankees are in town and I’m writing this blog…

 

 

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Yes, I am missing out on the first game of the Yankees series in Oakland against the A’s.  Well, I don’t exactly live in Oakland but I am only a BART trip away.  I will be at the game tomorrow night when Phil Hughes pitches.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.  This morning started out with nothing but rain.  It didn’t look promising, but it has been clear most of the afternoon so we’ll soon find out if Javier Vazquez has finally brought his A game with him.  Good luck to Javy and company as the Yanks look to get the West Coast road trip started on a positive note. 

 

 

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Don’t look now but who was that?  Like a blur, and despite the Yankees fourth series win in four tries, the team now finds themselves chasing the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East Standings.  The Rays beat Boston to complete a four game sweep on Monday, which put the idle Yankees ½ game back.  Tampa definitely has the pitching to sustain their perch, so this is going to be a dogfight throughout the summer.  I am sure that, sooner or later, the Boston Red Sox will decide to join the party too.

 

 

Rays Red Sox Baseball

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Prior to tonight’s game, former Yankees and current A’s Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez received their World Series rings.  I had definitely hoped that the Yankees could have found a way to keep Gaudin, but I am sure that he’s glad to be back with a club where he can grow his standard goatee or whatever you call that growth on his chin.

 

 

Yankees Athletics Baseball

 

So, the Yankees have a detour on their way to Baltimore following the conclusion of the weekend series in Anaheim.   They are scheduled to stop by the White House on Monday to see President Barack Obama on a scheduled off day.  The next day, they’ll begin a series against the young and talented Baltimore Orioles.  It should be an exciting time for the World Champions.  Hopefully, they will have just finished a successful California adventure!

 

 

 

 

I am not sure what I think about the schedule for this year’s NFL Draft.  In years past, it was always fun to get up early Saturday morning and watch the first 10 picks.  The rest of the day, I’d listen to the draft on the car radio or other medium.  On Sunday, I’d usually check in to see some of the later names selected.  This year will be very strange with the first round being held Thursday night.  Since it starts while I am still at work, I probably won’t get home until around the 5th or 6th selection.  Rounds 2 and 3 are Friday night, and the draft concludes on Saturday.  I will hold judgment until after the draft, but I am a bit skeptical.  We’ll see.

 

My team, the Minnesota Vikings, will open the NFL Season on Thursday, September 9th against the New Orleans Saints in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game.  Hey Brett (assuming you return), run, don’t throw! 

 

 

Saints D

Mark Humphrey/AP 

 

It was sad to hear the passing of the Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor.  He was found dead in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Initial speculation is that the death was the result of natural causes.  At 48 years of age, this is quite unexpected.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Keli’s wife, Lori, and their four children. 

 

 

DENVER - OCTOBER 15:  Team President of the Colorado Rockies, Keli McGregor celebrates in the locker room after the Rockies 6-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Coors Field on October 15, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.

Getty Images

Fast Times at Yankee Stadium!…

 

Joe Torre and slow starts are a thing of the past…

 

 


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Well, except for Mark Teixeira.  Nevertheless, the Yankees have taken the first two games of a three game set with the Texas Rangers (by scores of 5-1 and 7-3).

 

 

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Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

Apparently, according to the Associated Press, the Yankees haven’t won their first four series of the season since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were in the middle of the order.  I know, interesting but irrelevant, however, it is good to see the Yankees playing well from the start.  In the past few years, they would dig a hole and then have to spend the season digging their way out.  More often than not, they were successful.  However, that’s not the best formula for World Series success.

 

 

 

 

Friday night’s game against the Rangers was all-CC Sabathia.  Despite a rain-shortened six inning game, CC was masterful.  In facing 22 batters, he threw 20 first pitch strikes.  He definitely picked right up where he left off in his previous start against the Tampa Bay Rays, a near no-hitter that was broken up by a Kelly Shoppach single.  Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who caught both games for CC, put it best:  “I think he was better today.  He was throwing nasty pitches today, man.”

 

 

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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

The Yankees continued their winning ways on Saturday behind great pitching by A.J. Burnett.  In 7 innings, despite giving up 6 hits, A.J. did not allow any runs and struck out 7 Ranger batters.  Alfredo Aceves lost the shutout by giving up a three-run homer to Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, but the subsequent relievers, Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain, did their jobs and the Yankees had their 8th win in 11 games.

 

 

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Paul Bereswill

There were a few major milestones achieved today.  Jorge Posada put his name with legendary Yankees catchers like Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Thurman Munson with his 1,500 hit as a Yankee.  Hip-hip-Jorge! 

 

 

Michael Strobe/US Presswire

 

Alex Rodriguez hit his 584th career home run, moving past Mark McGwire into 8th place on the all-time list.  It was his first home run of the season.  Next up is Frank Robinson’s 586 home runs. 

 

 

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Al Bello/Getty Images

 

 

It doesn’t seem like he has been manager of the Yankees for very long, but Joe Girardi notched his 200th career win as a Yankees manager.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  Wouldn’t it be cool if he makes it to 300 games THIS season?  Works for me!

 

 

Joe Girardi Yankees

Brian J. Myers/US Presswire

 

Is Mark Teixeira really 4-for-40?  Yikes!  May cannot get here soon enough.  Maybe Mark should see a hypnotist to make him think today is June 1st!

 

 

 

 

And note to Javier Vazquez:  Please feel free to join the Yankees’ pitching party!  I know that you haven’t accepted the invitation yet, but fashionably late is perfectly acceptable!

 

 

 

 

The Yankees lost their first player to the disabled list when Chan Ho Park was moved to the 15-day DL due to a hamstring strain.  The move allowed the Yankees to recall Boone Logan from AAA.  Welcome back, Boone!  Enjoy Yankee Stadium!

 

 

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

I will finally get my first opportunity this year to see the Yankees in person when they travel to Oakland next week.  Let’s hope the fun continues!  Go Yankees!

 

 

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AP

P.S.  Hey Julia, how is the book assignment coming along?  ;)

 

 

 

Hi Hideki, It Was Great To See You But…

 

Two out of three ain’t bad!…

 

 

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The trend continues.  The Yankees have played three series so far this young season, and have won two out of three in each.  The schedule makers were very unkind to the Yankees as they pitted their top 3 foes to start the season.  Fortunately, the results have been very favorable.  I realize that there are many games to be played but given the Yankees are historically slow starters, at least in recent years; this season has gotten off to a great start.

 

 

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Tonight, despite an inability to get Hideki Matsui out, the Yankees prevailed against the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2.  The game saw the return of Angels starter Scott Kazmir (fresh off the DL) and starter-turned 8th inning setup guy-turned starter Phil Hughes.  The Yankees made it a short night for Kazmir (4 innings, 6 runs) but Hughes did struggle somewhat with his control as he gave up 5 walks and was gone in the 6th with no outs.  He did strike out 6 and only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in picking up the win. 

 

 

Al Tielemans/SI

 

Robinson Cano was the star of the game with 2 tremendous home runs.  Derek Jeter also contributed with a homer and 2 RBI’s.  I don’t think Curtis Granderson will need an adjustment period.  He has already shown that he likes being a Yankee and his two triples tonight were fantastic.  Meanwhile, I am getting a bit tired of seeing goose eggs next to Mark Teixeira’s name but fortunately April will soon be over.  Mariano Rivera, as efficient as ever, came on to pick up his 4th save in relief of Joba Chamberlain.  I have to admit, there was some satisfaction that it was Bobby Abreu who grounded out to end the game.  A good win and a good series…

 

 

Yankees Mark Teixeira Angels

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

Now, the Yankees await the arrival of the Texas Rangers for a weekend series in the Bronx.  What can CC Sabathia do to follow up on the one-hit performance in his previous start?  All is well at 161st and River…

 

 

 

 

I will admit that Javier Vazquez has had a rough start in his reunion with the Yankees.  He is 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA.  However, I am not so sure he deserved to be booed as he walked off the mound during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Angels.  I’d really like to see a few more starts before fans rush to judgment.  If you want a player to be the best that he can be, boos and cat calls are probably not the answer.  Save those for Fenway Park or Tropicana Field.  In Yankee Stadium, the fans should be united in their support of the players.  If a player is bad or ill-suited for New York so be it, but 2 games does not a season make!  Back off and give Javy some room.  He’ll be fine…

 

 

Javier Vazquez leaves in seventh inning as boo birds reign then sees Alfredo Aceves make things worse by allowing inherited runner to score.

Antonelli/News

 

 

Today was Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball as players honored the late Dodgers great by wearing his jersey number (42) which was previously retired throughout baseball except for those players who wore the number at the time. 

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

The last player to wear 42 in either league is, of course, the great Mariano Rivera.  As Mo so eloquently put it, “It’s a privilege, an honor to be the last one to wear 42; it’s a blessing for me.  I definitely have a job to do to represent him well.”  Mo, I think you’ve succeeded.  Here’s to Jackie Robinson and how he changed baseball for the better.

 

 


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The Winning Tradition…

 

The rings of Champions…

 

 

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William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

For the 28th time, the Yankees celebrated by receiving the rings for their 2009 World Championship.  It was a very special day as the guest of honor was seated on the opposing team’s bench.  Hideki Matsu, the World Series MVP, was very well received by the Yankee Stadium crowd.  It was the exact setting that I had hoped he would receive.  His hits, time and again, were huge, and he clearly was one of the primary reasons the Yankees emerged victorious.  Congratulations to Godzilla for well deserved honor and recognition, and thanks for the memories. 

 

 

Hideki Matsui

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

It was indeed a special day at Yankee Stadium, but there was a game to be played.  For the past few years, the Los Angeles Angels have had the Yankees’ number.  But the domination was finally halted in the American League Championship Series.  Regardless of how this series plays out, the Angels no longer have the aura of invincibility as they strolled into the Bronx. 

 

 

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Andy Pettitte was magnificient.  He pitched even better than I had expected.  Andy pitched six innings, giving up five hits and no runs.  He also had six strikeouts with three walks in picking up the victory, his first of the season.  If this truly is Andy’s final year, he is showing that he is a man for the ages.  When he departs Yankee Stadium for the final time, he’ll be able to hold his head high despite what may have happened in the past.  He has been a very worthy Yankee and I am glad that he has been a significant part of the team for the past decade (despite the three year hiatus in Houston).

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

Nick Johnson got the scoring going with a home run in the first inning.  Surprisingly, it was the first run scored by the Yanks in the first inning this season.  I think Nick will find Yankee Stadium to his liking this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Jeter put the Yanks up by two in the third inning with his first homer of the season.

 

 

Derek Jeter's single scores Curtis Granderson in the fourth as the New York Yankees hold off the Angels, 7-5, in the home opener.

Sipkin/News

 

 

The Yankees took a 7-1 lead into the 9th inning.  Former Yankee Bobby Abreu made it interesting with a grand slam off David Robertson to cut the Yanks’ lead to 7-5. 

 

 

Angels fall to Yankees, 7-5, despite a last-inning rally

  

 

LA Times

 

But the great Mariano Rivera came in to save the day for the third time this season.  Robertson has definitely been struggling, so he had better find his 2009 form quickly or he will be calling Scranton/Wilkes Barre “home”.  

It was an exciting day for the sellout crowd of 49,293.  The day started with a special ring for owner George Steinbrenner, before the on-the-field festivities began, and it ended with a Yankees victory, their fifth in seven games.  A memorable and enjoyable day for all…

 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

 

The Champs…finally…Head Home…

 

Whoa, the road trip is over and all we have to show for it is 4 freakin’ wins!…

 

 


Homer.JPG 

 

 

The schedule makers weren’t kind to the Yankees when they put the team on a road trip through Boston and Tampa, the fiercest and most competitive of the Yankees’ AL East rivals.  Both series started out with a loss, but then the Yankees rebounded to take the final two games of each series.  So, to win 4 out of 6 games is a huge accomplishment.  I would have been pleased if the Yankees had escaped with a .500 mark. 

 

This series did give me cause for concern with Javier Vazquez.  Friday night’s loser did not match up very well with the Rays’ young sluggers.  Well, I guess it depends upon the perspective.  Rays fans probably thought it was the perfect match-up.  Nevertheless. Javy has some work to do before his next start. 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, CC Sabathia nearly threw a no-hitter.  He made it deep into the 8th inning  before his former Cleveland battery mate Kelly Shoppach broke it up with a single.  After the hit, manager Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia and replaced him with David Robertson.  Robertson gave up a hit in relief so they settled on a combined two-hitter.  Girardi stirred up some controversy after the game when he said he would have pulled Sabathia after Shoppach regardless of whether or not he got a hit.  CC was at 111 pitches, so it would have been foolish to push him out any further.  I am surprised at the backlash that Girardi has faced because I think it was the right thing to do.  If this was May or June, it would be one thing.  But this was only CC’s second regular season start.  Deepening the pitch count to 130 or more pitches could have had so many adverse ramifications…short term and long term.  With the 10-0 victory, the Yankees had countered the offensive outburst of the Rays on Friday night.

 

 

CC Sabathia comes four outs short of Yankees first no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game in 1999.

Carlson/AP

 

 

The win set the stage for Sunday’s match-up with pitted A.J. Burnett versus James Shields.  Early on, it didn’t look like the Yankees offense was going to get started.  They were thwarted in a few chances, and trailed 2-1 entering the 6th inning.  After giving up a one-out double to Robinson Cano, Shields was replaced by former Yankee Randy Choate.  Jorge Posada proceeded to hit the homer that put the Yankees in the lead. 

 

 

Posada.JPG

AP

The bottom of the sixth inning was interesting when Evan Longoria hit a high pop-up that would have been an out in any other city.  In St. Petersburg, it hit a catwalk and landed back on the field near second base for a strange hit.  Fortunately, after loading the bases with a walk, Burnett was able to get out of the jam by getting B.J. Upton on an infield fly out. 

 

Nick Swisher also hit his first home run of the season in the game.

 

So, the Yankees head back to New York with a 4-2, good for second place in the AL East (a game behind division leader Toronto).  Next up, is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…or whatever they call themselves these days.  The difficult early season schedule continues as the Yankees now face their fiercest non-AL East rival on Tuesday for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.  The ring ceremony will be held prior to the game, and it is fortunate that the World Series MVP (Angels DH Hideki Matsui) will be in the house to get his ring.  Andy Pettitte gets the start for what might be his final Opening Day at the Stadium…

 

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

 

Today was a very historic day as Texas Stadium was imploded this morning.  I lived in Dallas for 14 years so I had been to Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas a number of times.  The most memorable game, for me, was Thanksgiving Day 1987.  The Minnesota Vikings were in Dallas to play the Cowboys.  The Vikings won it in overtime, 44-38, on a 24-yard touchdown run by Darrin Nelson.  I was so elated that day, and I still don’t know if my feet touched the ground leaving the stadium.   I also saw a number of great concerts over the years.  So, when I saw the visual of the stadium collapsing today, I couldn’t help but think that part of my past is gone. 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to a video of the demolition:

 

http://www.dallasnews.com/video/dallasnews/hp/index.html?nvid=413666&shu=1

 

Perhaps you’ve already seen this seat belts ad, but if not, it might be the best one that I’ve ever seen.  This is excellent, and hopefully makes you think twice before you forget to buckle up!

 

Glass Half Full to Glass Half Empty…

 

Thud!…

 

 


Thud.JPG 

 

The Yankees played a hard fought series in Boston, and escaped with two out of three despite their “pathetic and embarrassing”¹ play.  They had a day off and traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to face their other primary AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays Franchise Fitted Baseball Cap

 

With Javier Vazquez on the mound, it looked as though the Yankees would stack up very nicely against David Price and the championship-contending Rays.  Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Vazquez promptly gave it up in the bottom half of the 4th inning.  Former Yankee Carlos Pena tied the score with a two-run homer, and Jason Bartlett had a two-run double in the 5 run inning.  Another former Yankee, Dioner Navarro, hit the single that put the Rays in the lead.  Those would be the only runs that Price would need enroute to the Rays’ third victory of the season.

 

 

Photo

AP 

 

Marcus Thames made his second start of the season in left (in place of starter Brett Gardner), and Mark Teixeira continued his traditional ice cold start.  After four games, he is 0-for-16 which matches the worst hitless start of his career.  Let’s hope that he ends the streak on Saturday.

 

 


Frozen.JPG 

 

 

The weekend games will pit CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as the rotation begins its second go-around this young season.  I am expecting a much stronger start from Sabathia than we saw in Boston, and the same with Burnett.  They’ll face Wade Davis and James Shields, respectively.

 

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

On the bright side, the Boston Red Sox lost too as the Kansas City Royals rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 8th to win 4-3.  It was a great start by the ageless and reliable Tim Wakefield, but once again, the bullpen was the Achilles heel for the Red Sox.

 

 

Red Sox Royals Baseball.jpg

AP

 

¹I found Umpire Joe West’s comments about the Yankees and Red Sox as “pathetic and embarrassing” to be, well, pathetic and embarrassing.  His frustration was over the slow play of the opening series between the two teams.  In my opinion, West should voice any concerns he has internally within his own organization and not air the negative comments publicly.  I am biased and if I were a San Francisco Giants fan, I’d vehemently disagree, but there’s nothing like baseball’s best rivalry, the Yankees and the Red Sox.  I am a Minnesota Vikings fan, and I dislike the Green Bay Packers.  I am a San Jose Sharks fan and I dislike the Anaheim Ducks.  I am a Los Angeles Lakers fan and I dislike the Boston Celtics.  But there is simply nothing like Yankees-Red Sox.  Right Julia?

 

 

Keith Srakocic/AP

 

Speaking of the Vikings, the wait for Brett Favre continues.  It is a given that Favre won’t make any decisions that would actually require him to show up for training camp, so this is going to be long and drawn out once again.  It’s frustrating because it is very hard for me to get excited about either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.  It’s rumored that the Vikings are taking a look at Tim Tebow.  However, he is a major project and many think he’ll never succeed at the pro level.  On the plus side, his former teammate Percy Harvin is on the Vikings and it would ease Tebow’s transition.  We’ll see how this plays out.  I definitely agree that the Vikings need to be thinking about the quarterback of the future regardless of what Favre may do.  I’d love for the Vikings to pick Jimmy Clausen in the NFL Draft, but he’ll be long gone by the time the Vikings select unless they can move up.

 

 

Jimmy Clausen

Joe Raymond/AP

 

Both the Sharks and the Lakers are set to play in their respective sports’ play-offs.  I am hopeful that this is the year for Joe Thornton and company.  For the Lakers, it’s ‘here we go again’ with Andrew Bynum unavailable until the play-offs due to injury.  Unfortunately, that’s an all too familiar song, but hopefully he’ll be ready to play once the play-offs do start.  If both teams could play and beat Boston, I’d be a very happy man.  Of course, that would mean championship series for both, but hey, so long as WE win, what does it matter?  ;)

 

 

 

 

The Yankees quietly picked up former San Diego Padres outfielder Chad Huffman on waivers and assigned him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Huffman was placed on waivers to make room for Matt Stairs (hasn’t he played for like every major league club?).  I didn’t think much of the move when I first saw it, but later I saw comments about how frustrated fans were and how they saw the fingerprints of Kevin Towers all over this one.  Towers, the former Padres GM, is now a special consultant for the Yankees.  It would appear that the Padres had hoped Huffman would clear waivers for a minor league assignment but were, perhaps, thwarted by their former general manager.  I saw these comments about Huffman by Padres assistant Paul DePodesta and it makes me a little jazzed about the pickup (and not so disappointed that the Yankees had to return Rule 5 pickup Jamie Hoffmann to the Dodgers): 

“We lost the player. And, he’s a pretty good one. Chad was a 2nd round pick in 2006 out of TCU and has been a successful minor league hitter throughout his pro career, posting an OPS over .800 in each season. While crushing lefties early in his career, Chad had his most successful year yet against RHP during his first season in AAA in 2009. He always controlled the strike zone and also hit for some power–a combination we like. We think he’ll be a good Major League hitter.

“This wasn’t an easy decision, as we feel good about our 40-man roster at this point. We talked about a number of different guys and worked through various scenarios–who had the best chance to clear waivers, what depth did we have, what depth did we anticipate needing during the year, etc.

“We hate to lose good players. Additionally, we hate to lose good people, and Chad is a tremendous clubhouse guy. Getting beyond the selfish aspect, we’re excited for Chad. We truly wish him the best with the Yankees and will be rooting for him to make it to New York and contribute to the big league team.”

Works for me…  J

 

CHuffman.JPG

 

P.S.  I am headed to Arizona for the week on business so I might not have any blog updates until after I return on Saturday, April 17th.  Let’s hope the Yankees get on a roll by that time! 

 

–Scott

 

 

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