July 2010

One for the Boss and Bob!…

 

It simply could not have been better scripted…

 

 

 

On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

 

Uli Seit/The New York Times

 

There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling.  This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting.  It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

 

 

New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher (a.) welcomes the ceremonial pie in the face from pitcher A.J. Burnett after Swisher belts a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season.  He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.

 

Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early.  Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game.  When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80′s in his pitch count.  It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano.  Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning. 

 

The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run. 

 

In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single.  He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat.  It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute.  Unfortunately, he struck out.  With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit.  I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win.  The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end.  This one was clearly for the Boss…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day.  The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4.  I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same. 

 

 

AP

 

I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start.  His father would be very proud…

 

 

 AP

 

 

This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night.  They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique.  Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

–Scott

So Long, Mr. Steinbrenner…

 

It has been a tough week…

 

 

Though his public appearances have diminished ...

Bukaty/AP

 

The week started on the wrong foot when long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard died, but it reached its crescendo with the passing of owner George Steinbrenner.  Monday morning, I was at the gym running on the treadmill when ESPN broke in with the story that George had suffered a heart attack.  With each update, the news got progressively worse.  Between 6:30 am (actual time of death) and 7:00 am, other news channels began to report that the Boss had died.  ESPN lagged behind with their report of the death.  It was difficult to watch the news unfold.  At first, you hope for the best, but as each report got progressively worse, the realization that this may be the end began to set in, and of course, the finale was the worst case scenario.

 

I realize that George’s health had deteriorated significantly in the past few years.  But still, I did not expect his demise to come so suddenly.  Of course George was not a perfect owner.  He clearly had his faults, but you could never fault his desire to win.  I do not agree with the way people were treated at times.  I became a Yankees fan at the end of 1974 so George had just been the owner of the team for two years.  Instability at the manager and pitching coach positions was a given.  It was a certainty each year that there would be change at one or both of the positions.  I idolized Billy Martin and I was always so thrilled when he was hired and so devastated when he was fired, and it was a cycle that kept repeating itself until Martin died tragically on Christmas Day 1989.

 

 

George Steinbrenner Billy Martin 1987

The Star Ledger

 

By the time that Joe Torre was hired in 1996, I was so ready for stability.  I had grown tired over the years of the constant change, and did not like the revolving door for players in the 80′s as the roster was constantly changing.  I don’t know if it was George mellowing or if it took special personalities like Stick Michael to allow the core players to develop and management and coaching positions to hold, but whatever the reason, George was still responsible for the great late 90′s championship run that I will probably never experience again in my lifetime. 

 

 

 

 

I admire and respect current Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, but he is obviously much more reserved than his father.  I don’t think that Hal will ever gain the love (or the hatred) to the degree his father experienced.  Well, I suppose championships are a cure for everything, but at this point, it would be hard to envision the son enjoying the success of the father.  Time will tell.

 

 

Hal Steinbrenner takes page from his father, showing up with high demands for Joe Girardi (below) & Yankees.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

I wish that the Yankees had been successful in landing Cliff Lee in what turned out to be the final trade negotiation of George’s life.  But it was fitting for George to depart with a two-game lead in the AL East at the All-Star break.  I also read about how his death was convenient for the family given that there is not an estate tax this year (saving them something like $45 million). 

 

I think it is important that we remember George’s faults while we reminisce about his good qualities, and not try to defend those bad traits.  They are what made the man…good, bad or indifferent…and frankly, I really wouldn’t want it any other way.  I am glad to have experienced the Steinbrenner Era and I hope that it has helped to make me a better person as a result.  I will miss George but I do look forward to the new Steinbrenner regime.  They’ve already given us one championship so hopefully the dedication to winning will remain and we’ll see Hal and Hank at the podium accepting future trophies from the Commissioner. 

 

 

steinbrenner-yankees-11-05-09.jpg

AP

 

–Scott

A Champion Has Fallen…

 

George Michael Steinbrenner III

July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010

 

 

 

A sad day in the Yankees Universe.  My deepest sympathy condolences to the Steinbrenner Family, the Yankees Organization and Yankees fans everywhere.  Our world will never be the same.  It was only fitting that George departed as the World Series champion.  He is and always will be a champion to us.  George, thank you for being you…

I only saw George Steinbrenner in person one time (at Mickey Mantle’s funeral), but he had a deep and lasting impression on my life.  He is perhaps the only owner of any sports team that I’ve ever followed that wanted to win more than I did.  As a fan, what more could you want in an owner.  I can’t say that I agreed with every move, but I can say that the Yankees are who they are because of George.  He restored honor and prestige to a downtrodden franchise and restored the team to the standards of its rich legacy and storied past.

Somewhere in the corner of Heaven, Billy Martin can be heard…”But George!”…

 

–Scott

 

Your Attention Please…A Yankee Great Remembered…

The “Voice of God” has been silenced…



Bob Sheppard Yankees

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger

 


The voice of Yankees Stadium, Bob Sheppard, has
passed away at the age of 99.  Sheppard’s
health did not allow him to handle the PA duties at the new Yankee Stadium, so
he will forever be linked as a part of the old Yankee Stadium which ended its
run following the 2008 season. 
Sheppard’s last game was September 17, 2007.

 

Paul Olden has been the PA announcer since the team
opened the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, however, Derek Jeter has continued to
use a recorded tape of Sheppard’s voice to announce his plate appearances.  He’ll continue the practice even though
Sheppard has departed.

 

I am glad that I had the numerous opportunities to
hear Sheppard’s voice at the old Stadium. 
He will always be a huge part of Yankees history, and his voice will
live on.

 

It’s incredible to think of the players that
Sheppard announced over the course of his career.  His first game was April 17, 1951, which,
ironically, was also Mickey Mantle’s first game.  Here is the box score from the game:

 

April 17, 1951 at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees 5, Boston Red Sox 0

Red Sox

AB

R

H

RBI

Dom DiMaggio, cf

3

0

2

0

Billy Goodman, rf

3

0

1

0

Ted Williams, lf

3

0

1

0

Vern Stephens, 3b

4

0

0

0

Walt Dropo, 1b

4

0

1

0

Bobby Doerr, 2b

4

0

0

0

Lou Boudreau, ss

4

0

1

0

Buddy Rosar, c

2

0

0

0

Bill Wight, p

2

0

0

0

   Ellis
Kinder, p

0

0

0

0

   Charlie
Maxwell, p

1

0

0

0

   Mickey
McDermott, p

0

0

0

0

Totals

30

0

6

0

 

Yankees

AB

R

H

RBI

Jackie Jensen, lf

4

2

2

2

Phil Rizzuto, ss

3

1

0

0

Mickey Mantle, rf

4

1

1

1

Joe DiMaggio, cf

4

0

1

1

Yogi Berra, c

2

0

1

1

Johnny Mize, 1b

3

0

0

0

   Joe
Collins, 1b

0

0

0

0

Billy Johnson, 3b

2

0

0

0

Jerry Coleman, 2b

3

1

2

0

Vic Raschi, p

2

0

0

0

Totals

27

5

7

5

 

Boston Red Sox

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

-

 

0

New York Yankees

0

0

2

 

0

0

3

 

0

0

x

-

 

5

 

E-Boudreau (1). 
DP-Boston 2 (Wight-Boudreau-Dropo, Boudreau-Doerr-Dropo), New York 3 (DiMaggio-Mize,
Rizzuto-Coleman-Mize, Rizzuto-Coleman-Collins).  2B-NY Jensen (1, off Wight).  HR-NY Jensen (1, 3rd inning off
Wight, 1 on 1 out).  Team LOB-7.  SH-Raschi (1, off Wight), Rizzuto (1, off
Wight).  Team-2.  U-HP-Bill McGowan, 1B-Bill McKinley, 2B-Jim
Honochick, 3B-Hank Soar.  T-2:12.  A-44,860.

 

Red Sox

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Bill Wight (L, 0-1)

5.0

7

5

5

2

1

Ellis Kinder

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

Mickey McDermott

2.0

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

8.0

7

5

5

2

2

 

Yankees

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Vic Raschi (W, 1-0)

9.0

6

0

0

4

6

Totals

9.0

6

0

0

4

6


For Bob Sheppard’s final game, the Yankees won
again to bookend his legendary career with wins.

 

September 17, 2007 at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees 8, Baltimore Orioles 5

Orioles

AB

R

H

RBI

Brian Roberts, 2b

4

2

2

0

Tike Redman, cf

5

1

2

1

Nick Markakis, rf

5

1

2

3

Miguel Tejada, ss

2

0

0

0

   Luis
Hernandez, ph

1

0

0

0

Kevin Millar, 1b

5

0

3

0

Aubrey Huff, dh

4

0

1

1

Melvin Mora, 3b

5

0

1

0

Ramon Hernandez, c

4

0

1

0

Jay Payton, lf

4

1

1

0

   Brandon
Fahey, lf

0

0

0

0

Totals

39

5

13

5

 

Yankees

AB

R

H

RBI

Johnny Damon, cf

4

0

0

0

Derek Jeter, ss

5

1

2

0

Bobby Abreu, rf

5

0

2

2

Alex Rodriguez, 3b

3

0

1

1

Hideki Matsui, lf

5

1

1

1

Jorge Posada, c

5

1

3

0

Jason Giambi, dh

1

2

0

0

   Shelley
Duncan, pr-dh

0

0

0

0

Robinson Cano, 2b

4

1

2

1

Doug Mientkiewicz, 1b

1

1

1

2

Totals

33

8

13

8

 

Baltimore Orioles

2

0

0

 

0

0

0

 

1

0

2

-

 

5

New York Yankees

0

2

1

 

2

0

2

 

0

1

x

-

 

8

 

2B-Roberts (41, off Hughes), Markakis (41, off
Hughes), Millar (25, off Hughes), Payton (21, off Ramirez), Huff (31, off
Rivera), Cano (37, off Cabrera), Abreu (36, off Hoey), Jeter (33, off
Birkins).  HR-Matsui (24, 3rd
inning off Cabrera, 0 on 2 out). 
RBI-Markakis 3 (103), Redman (13), Huff (69), Mientkiewicz 2 (18),
Matsui (95), Cano (85), Damon (59), Abreu 2 (98), Rodriguez (142).  S-Mientkiewicz.  SF-Rodriguez.  LOB-Balt 11, NYY 12.  SB-Redman (5).  DP-NYY 1 ( Cano-Mientkiewicz).  U-HP-Jeff Kellogg, 1B-Eric Cooper, 2B-Andy
Fletcher, 3B-Mike Reilly.  T-3:54.  A-52,548.

 

Orioles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Daniel Cabrera (L, 9-18)

5.0

8

6

6

3

5

Jim Hoey

1.1

2

1

1

1

1

Kurt Birkins

1.1

3

1

1

3

1

Radhames Liz

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

8.0

13

8

8

7

7

 

Yankees

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Phil Hughes (W, 5-3)

5.2

6

2

2

2

3

Edwar Ramirez (H, 3)

1.0

3

1

1

0

1

Luis Vizcaino (H, 13)

1.1

1

0

0

0

2

Kyle Farnsworth

0.2

2

2

2

1

0

Mariano Rivera (S, 30)

0.1

1

0

0

0

1

Totals

9.0

13

5

5

3

7

 


So long, Bob Sheppard.  Joltin’ Joe and the Mick are waiting for you
to announce their next game…

 

Hoff/NY Daily News



Saturday night, the Yankees lost a
heart-breaker.  On a night, when Cliff
Lee gave up 6 earned runs in the Baltimore Orioles’ pounding of the Texas
Rangers, 6-1, the man who was mentioned as the likely odd man out had the
Lee-to-the-Yankees trade been successful was stellar.  Javier Vazquez, who probably would have been
dealt to a National League club, went 7 innings and have up only 3 hits and no
runs.  He struck out 7 batters, while
only walking 2.  He left with a 1-0 lead,
however, his replacement, Joba Chamberlain promptly allowed a couple of hits, a
wild pitch, and an intentional pass to load the bases in the bottom of the 8th
for Jose Lopez.  Showing that the Yankees
bullpen is a much greater need for GM Brian Cashman than starting pitching,
Lopez delivered Chamberlain’s offering into the seats for a grand slam.   The Yankees tried to rally in the top of the
9th but they couldn’t come through. 
So, what should have been an awesome night for Vazquez turned into yet
another disappointing Joba performance. 



Joba Chamberlain Yankees Oakland cropped file

Kyle Terada/US Presswire

 


Fortunately, the team rebounded on Sunday to win
big, 8-2, behind CC Sabathia.  It was CC’s
12th win of the season (12-3) which matches Tampa’s David Price for
the league lead.  Sunday saw the Big 3 of
the AL East win (New York, Tampa and Boston), but the Yankees (56-32) hold a two-game
edge over the Rays.  The Red Sox are 5
games back.  I was glad to see the
Yankees end the first half on a positive note, particularly after Saturday’s
tough loss.  The second half starts off
as intensely as the first half when the Yankees welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to
Yankee Stadium on Friday night.  But for
a now, a few days off (well, at least for only about ‘half’ the team!). 



 


Well, it is time for my final “forced” spotlight on
a Boston Red Sox player (thanks to a wager loss to Julia of Julia’s
Rants
).  I thought about a paragraph for
Dice-K or John Lackey or Adrian Beltre or Victor Martinez, but I decided to go
with a player that will be a fixture in the Red Sox rotation for years to come…


 

#11      Clay
Buchholz

 


Charles Krupa/AP



Clay burst onto the major league scene in 2007 with
a no-hitter in just his second major league start.  On September 1, 2007, against the Baltimore
Orioles, he became the first Red Sox rookie to throw a no-hitter and just the
third major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first and second start
since 1900. 



Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was hoisted up by catcher Jason Varitek after Buchholz pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park last night, putting the perfect touch on a 10-0 victory.

Winslow Townson/AP

 

He was born in Lumberton, Texas, on August 14, 1984,
so he’ll just be 26 when his birthday rolls around next month.

 

Clay was drafted in 2005 as a supplement pick
received as compensation for the loss of free agent pitcher Pedro
Martinez.  I guess Pedro truly was the
gift that keeps on giving to the RSN. 

 

He made his first start against the Los Angeles
Angels on August 17, 2007, and picked up the win in the Red Sox victory. 

 

His stay in the majors would be interrupted by
injury and several trips to the minors for the next couple of yeas.  He started 2009 at Pawtucket, and came up in
July and won a total of 7 games through the duration of the year. 

 

In 2010, he picked up where he left off, and was,
for a time, the leading Red Sox pitcher with 10 wins (10-4, 2.47 ERA).  He injured his hamstring running the bases in
San Francisco in late June that led to a trip to the Disabled List, but he is
expected to start in Boston’s first series following the All-Star Break.  He and Jon Lester form a very deadly duo in
the Red Sox rotation, and both should be stalwarts in the rotation for a very
long time. 

 

Here is Clay’s scouting report from
SoxProspects.com:

 

Scouting Report: Buchholz has a low-to-mid-90s four-seam fastball, a two-seam
fastball with decent movement, a slider, a hard 12-to-6 curveball, and a
changeup. His fastball typically sits around 91-94 mph, topping out at about 97
mph. However, he let loose at the end of the 2006 season, and his fastball sat
around 96 mph. His plus changeup is generally a straight change that sits
around 78-82 mph; he also throws a circle change.  His curveball, the best
in the organization, sits between 76-81 mph with a knee-buckling bite.  On
any given night, Buchholz’s curve or change can be unhittable, and he tends to
rely on whichever one is on as his out pitch throughout the game.  His
slider, while average to above average, is a bit behind his other secondary
pitches and sits in the low-to-mid-80s.  Mixes in all of his pitches
phenomenally.  Good demeanor on the mound.  Pitches well under
pressure, pitching coaches have said he has ice water running through his
veins.  Nice pick-off move.  He has struggled with consistency early
in his big-league career, but otherwise has ace makeup. Might need to add and
maintain some weight to endure a full major league season. In September
2007, in just his second career major league start, Buchholz threw a no-hitter
against the Baltimore Orioles.   In 2008, he had major struggles with
command and confidence, leading to lackluster results. Returned to form in 2009.

 

Clay’s name has been mentioned in the past with
possible trades for the likes of Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez.  With consistency and good heath, Clay should
make himself ‘untouchable’ and I have no doubt he’ll reach his potential as a
future ace for the Red Sox.    



AP


Julia, with that, I am done!  :)


–Scott

Racking Up Wins, But Still Disappointed…

 

First let me get the game out of the way, yeah, we
won 3-1 behind Alex Rodriguez’s two-run single in the top of the 9th
and excellent pitching by Andy Pettitte, blah, blah, blah…

 


Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte surrenders only five hits, including two by Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (b.), and strikes out nine batters in eight innings for his 11th win of the season.

Greule/Getty Images



Today had to be one of the most difficult days I’ve
experienced in recent memory.  I woke up
this morning to find the New York Post report that the Yankees were on the
verge of acquiring pitcher Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners. 

 


Cliff Lee is 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA in his first season with the Seattle Mariners.

Wenig/AP



All morning, I checked news reports and blogs to
see the progress of the trade. It sounded closer and closer.  First, it was mentioned that the Yankees
would send highly touted catcher (future first baseman?) Jesus Montero and
minor league second baseman David Adams to the Mariners.  Later, it was increased to include minor
league pitcher Zach McAllister.  As a
proponent of a Lee trade, I was in favor of the move despite the loss of top
young talent.  Montero will be a huge bat
in a future lineup regardless of where he plays.  I’ve envisioned him as Jorge Posada’s
replacement, but there are other candidates (Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez to
name a few). 

 

The Mariners really liked Adams, but he currently
has an ankle injury and this was the point of their concern.  As soon as they found out that Justin Smoak
was available, they quickly shifted direction and closed a deal with the Texas
Rangers. 

 

I was very disappointed with the final
outcome.  I really think the Yankees
should have done what it takes to close the deal.  There are no sure things in the Yankees
pitching rotation outside of CC Sabathia, so the chance to acquire a dominant
pitcher like Lee doesn’t happen very often. 
Sure, the team will be able to pursue Lee in the off-season if he doesn’t
sign a contract with the bankrupt Rangers, but they’ll pay a high price given
that Lee is a Type A free agent and he isn’t able to help them now.  With Lee, the team could have shifted Phil
Hughes to the bullpen or traded Javier Vazquez, a free agent at year end, for a
quality return.

 

Perhaps one day, Montero, Adams and/or McAllister
will make me glad this day happened the way it did, but today, I am
disappointed.  Then, of course, the
Boston Red Sox go out and blast the Toronto Blue Jays 14-3.  Not a good day…



 


Well, back to the “forced” spotlight on a Boston
Red Sox player.  Thanks to a wager loss
to Julia of Julia’s Rants, I am obligated to write about a member of the
6/26/10 Boston Red Sox roster.  The
original bet was for all 25 players, but Julia shortened my sentence to 10
players for good behavior.  So far, I’ve
written about 8 Red Sox players so just two more.  For #9, I will go with the knuckleballer…


 

#49       
Tim Wakefield

 


His vaunted knuckleball was only one weapon Tim Wakefield employed in his eight shutout innings (two hits, six strikeouts).

Duane Burleson/AP



Tim Wakefield is the senior ranking member of the
Boston Red Sox, having joined the organization in 1995.  He was one of those cuts that Boston pounced
upon to seize a quality player (ala David Ortiz).  In a Red Sox uniform, he trails only Cy Young
and Roger Clemens in wins. 

 

Wake was born 14 years to the day before Thurman
Munson was killed in a plane crash in Canton, Ohio (August 2, 1966).  Sorry, I can’t pass August 2nd
without thinking about Thurman.  It’s the
curse of a Yankees fan.  Wakefield was
drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988. 
He started out as an infielder, but realized that his best path to the
majors was developing a pitching talent so he learned how to throw a
knuckleball.


In 1992, when Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla were
leading the Pirates to the play-off appearances, he went 8-1 down the stretch,
earning NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year from The Sporting News.  The Pirates would lose the NLCS to the
Atlanta Braves, but it was through no fault of Wake who went 2-0 (both were
complete games). 



scan0409.jpg image by subjectochange13

 


Thanks to control problems, Wakefield spent the
next couple of years in the minors.  On
April 20, 1995, the Pirates gave up on Wakefield and released him.  He was signed by the Red Sox six days later,
and would prove his worth immediately as he went 16-8 in helping the Red Sox
win the AL East.  He finished third in
the Cy Young voting that year, and was also named the AL Comeback Player of the
Year.

 

Over the next few years, Wake would prove to be a
valuable part of the rotation even if he did struggle at times with control.  He even found himself as the team’s closer in
1999.  He is one of the few pitchers to
record four strikeouts in one inning.  He
earned 15 saves before he was replaced by Derek Lowe as the team’s closer. 

 

Because of his versatility, he would toggle back
and forth between starting and relieving for the next few years.  He enjoyed good success against the Yankees,
but was the pitcher on the mound when Aaron Boone hit his home run to win the
2003 ALCS.  He rebounded to play a
critical part in the team’s wins against the Yankees and the St. Louis
Cardinals the next year to claim the World Championship. 

 

With his unique fast and ultra-slow fastball,
Wakefield has been a consistent part of the Red Sox rotation for 15 years.  He won 17 games in their 2007 championship
season but he didn’t get to play in the World Series due to a shoulder
injury. 

 

Even today, when he is not counted on to be a major
part of the rotation, he simply steps in and does his job in a quiet, effective
manner.  He was a terrific signing for
the Red Sox, and he’ll go down in Red Sox history as one of their all-time
greats.  Wakefield is perhaps one of the
most giving players in the game today, and the Red Sox will never be the same
when he decides to call it a career…

 

 

 Just one more to go!  Whew!  J



 

 

Fat and Happy in Oakland…

 

Geesh, do we really have to leave Oakland?…

 

 

 

McAfee.JPG

 

 

 

The three game series against the Oakland A’s was perhaps the most stress free, relaxing series the Yankees have enjoyed this season.  Usually, they get much resistance from the A’s but not this series.  The Yankees completed the three game sweep on Wednesday night with a 6-2 win.

 

A.J. Burnett continued to show that he is a much better pitcher under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Eiland.  Burnett’s struggles came while Eiland was on a leave of absence, and his improvement has coincided with Eiland’s return.  A.J. went 7 innings and only gave up 5 hits and 2 runs.  He struck out 3 batters, while walking 2.  He improved to 7-7 and lowered his ERA to 4.75. 

 

 

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett snaps a six-game losing streak with seven strong innings Wednesday and gets a lift from Nick Swisher, who belts a solo homer in the sixth inning.

Ben Margot/AP

 

The A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez, successfully weaved his way into and out of trouble until the 4th inning when Ramiro Pena and Derek Jeter had run-scoring singles to go with Mark Teixeira’s 3-run homer as the Yankees erupted for 5 runs.  It would prove to be the only runs they would need, although Nick Swisher added a solo homer in the 6th. 

 

 

 

John G. Mabanglo/EPA

 

The late innings were quiet under the supervision of Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain as the Yankees picked up their 53rd win of the year.  Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays kept pace with the defending World Champs as they completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox.  The Rays are 2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East standings, while the Red Sox fell to 4 ½ games.  Hey Julia, what is that speck in the mirror?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem so close anymore!  ;)

 

The Final Man Vote is in, and so is Nick Swisher!  As if the Yankees didn’t have enough attendees for this year’s All-Star Game, Nick Swisher will tagging along with Derek Jeter and company for next week’s All-Star Game in Anaheim.  Both of my Final Man votes made it to the All-Star Game, as I also supported the NL selection, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.  Congratulations to both Nick and Joey! 

 

 

The Star Ledger

 

 

First baseman Joey Votto made an immediate impact with the Reds last September, hitting .321 in 24 games with four home runs and 17 runs batted in. (David Kohl/Associated Press)

David Kohl/AP

 

 

I am nearing the end of my “forced” spotlight on Boston Red Sox players (courtesy of a lost wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants).  Originally, I had to write a paragraph about all 25 members on Boston’s June 26th roster.  However, Julia was gracious enough to reduce my sentence to 10 players for good behavior.  :D  So far, I have completed 7 profiles, so this will be my 8th.  Just two more to go.  For this post, I am going to go with the Captain…

 

 

 

#33    Jason Varitek

 

Jason is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right foot, but he was on the active roster as of 6/26/10.

 

 

 

Image: Varitek

Winslow Townson/AP

 

Tek, as he is affectionately referred to by the RSN, was born April 11, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan.  He enjoyed baseball success and glory at a very early age as his team won the 1984 Little League World Series (Altamonte Springs, FL).  The team would lose the world championship game to a team from Seoul, South Korea, the international champion, but it was only the beginning of championship and personal success for young Jason.

 

In high school in Altamonte Springs, he was catcher and third baseman for the 1990 state champions.  In 1992, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and was recognized as the National Collegiate Player of the Year.  The next year, he was named Baseball America’s College Player of the Year.  Along with Nomar Garciaparra, he would lead his college team, Georgia Tech, to the 1994 College World Series title game (which they lost to the Oklahoma Sooners).

 

Tek was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1994 and joined their system in 1995.  In perhaps one of the most foolish trades of recent memory, the Mariners sent Tek and pitcher Derek Lowe to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.  At the time, I didn’t know much about Varitek or Lowe, but I remember thinking that it was a lot for a guy that had been a journeyman reliever at best.  Little did I know that it would help set into a motion the grand plan to end the Curse of the Bambino.

 

Tek made it to the Show for a single at-bat in September 1997, but he was up for good in 1998, sharing catching duties with Scott Hatteberg.  His leadership qualities really began to took hold in 2003, the year the team lost the ALCS to the Yankees, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.  The next year, he would be one of the driving forces behind the team’s run to the World Series championship (their first in 86 years). 

 

 


Tek.JPG 

 

Courtesy NESN.com

 

 

Following the championship season, Tek has named the third Captain in Red Sox history behind Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. 

 

Jason would go on to win a second World Championship with the Red Sox in 2007.  He has caught a major league record 4 no-hitters (Hideo Nomo, 2001; Derek Lowe, 2002; Clay Buchholz, 2007; and Jon Lester, 2008).

 

Tek is on the downside of a great playing career, but his potential as a future manager is huge.  There is no doubt that 2007 was not the last championship that he will experience in his career.  I can only hope that it will come after his Red Sox playing days are a distant memory.  George Steinbrenner always takes great pride in his “warriors”, and it goes without question that Tek is a warrior and a champion.   

 

Just 2 more to go… 

 

 

Just Another Game…

 

Who said that you can’t go home again?…

 

 


CC.JPG 

 

 

 

CC Sabathia finally put his problems with pitching “at home” behind him as the Yankees defeated the A’s 6-1 on Tuesday night in Oakland.  CC, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, CA, has struggled at McAfee Coliseum.  CC, an Oakland Raiders season ticket holder, had a 2-5 career mark prior to last night’s game.  The best quote I saw after the game was when CC stated that he is over playing at home and it’s just another place to play. 

 

 

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

 

So, last night, for a change, it was the A’s pitcher who was too amped up.  Trevor Cahill, an All-Star, tried too hard to impress his All-Star manager (Joe Girardi) and surrendered two home runs to Alex Rodriguez (one of which was a grand slam).  For A-Rod, it was home runs 596 and 597 for his career.

 

 

Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after belting a grand slam in the third inning in Oakland, his first of two round trippers in support of CC Sabathia (b.), giving him 597 for his career.

Ben Margot/AP

 

Following a sluggish start to the season, CC improved his record to 11-3 and enjoyed his highest strikeout total of the season with 10.  He has won seven straight starts.  Clearly, this is the reason the Yankees signed CC to the huge deal several years ago.  Admittedly, I am not looking forward to the end of next season when his ‘opt-out’ clause kicks in.  Hopefully, life as a Yankee has been good for CC to the point that he won’t yearn to be a Giant, Athletic, Angel or Dodger.

 

I was not pleased to see that Robinson Cano had accepted an invitation to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.  Too often, we’ve seen sluggers mess up their swing and suffer subpar second halves after derby participation.  Cano has excelled this season behind A-Rod in the order, and his job is not to hit home runs but to drive in runs.  It didn’t sound like Joe Girardi or hitting coach Kevin Long were in favor of his participation, although Long took the softer approach to say that he understood why it would be an honor for Cano.  I can only hope that Cano stays injury-free and that his second half is equal to or greater than the first.

 

In a news report released by the New York Daily News, Robinson Cano has apparently had a change of heart (or a forced one) and has removed himself from the Home Run Derby.  Hopefully, the news report is true.

 

 

New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has bowed out of the Home Run Derby.

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

Buster Olney had a good column on ESPN.com about Cliff Lee’s impact on various contenders today.  He had consulted with Stephen Oh of Accuscore, and was given this short description of Lee’s impact on the Yankees:

 

Lee with Yankees

Yankees are finishing 6 games ahead of Boston and Tampa in AL East.

New York Yankees

Win

Loss

%

Win Div.

Playoffs

Current Forecast

97

65

59.9

65

88

w/ Cliff Lee

99

63

61.1

77

94

Lee Impact

+2 wins

 

1.2

12

6

 

 

As much as I’d like Lee on the Yankees, I recognize that it remains a long shot and the team does have greater needs.  But you can never underestimate the Yankees and they do have the tendency to lie in the weeds waiting to strike if they feel the market conditions are right. 

 

Trades are not always about what they can do for your team, but sometimes it is to keep other teams, like the Rays, from becoming stronger.  Based on the projection above, Lee would improve the Yanks by 2 games.  So, if you subtracted the 2 games from the Yanks and gave the additional games to the Rays, the projected standings would be tighter…with much less margin for error. 

 

My preference would be for the Seattle Mariners to trade Lee back to the National League (perhaps back to Philadelphia since they’ve expressed interest).  But of course, the downside is a potential World Series match-up against the Phillies, assuming both teams make it but that’s too far away to think about.  Right now, the goal is to simply make the play-offs, and then worry about those games at that time. 

 

I have no doubt that the Boston Red Sox will be much stronger.  Their players will begin to get healthy, and it is almost a certainty that Theo Epstein will be very active in the days leading up to the trading deadline.  As strong as the Red Sox rotation is with Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz healthy, I’d hate to think of Lee in the rotation in place of Dice-K. 

 

It should be an interesting July…

 

It is time once again for the “forced” spotlight on a Boston Red Sox player thanks to my wager loss to Julia of Julia’s Rants.  So far, I have profiled 6 Boston players.  The original wager penalty was a paragraph about the entire 25 man roster as of 6/26/10.  Julia has shortened my “sentence” by 15 players which means that I only need to spotlight four more players.  Hopefully, with my final choices, I won’t disappoint.

 

For the latest entry, I want to mention the closer-in-waiting.  I’ve already talked about Jonathan Papelbon.  I don’t know what the future holds for Pap and the Red Sox, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Pap is eventually traded or departs as a free agent.  If that happens, the new Boston closer would most likely be…

 

 

#51     Daniel Bard

 

 

 

Bob Breidenbach/Providence Journal

 

Daniel Bard just turned 25 last month (he was born June 25, 1985 in Houston, Texas).  He was originally selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft.  Ironically, Bard had previously been drafted by the Yankees in 2003 but did not sign; he chose the University of North Carolina instead (bummer!). 

 

An early attempt was made to make Bard a starter but it didn’t pan out and he was moved into the bullpen in late 2007.  Out of the bullpen, Bard thrived in 2008 with a 1.51 ERA and 107 strikeouts (in 77 ½ innings) and was named the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year.

 

On May 13, 2009, Bard made his pitching debut with the Red Sox by throwing two scoreless innings against the Los Angles Angels.  He only gave up one hit and had a strikeout. 

 

Bard is one of the few pitchers in the majors capable of throwing 100 MPH.    So far this season, he has continued his growth and development as the eventual successor for Jonathan Papelbon.  In 40 games, he has an ERA of 1.99 and 44 strikeouts.  He has only given up 22 hits, 12 walks, 9 earned runs, and 4 home runs.  He also has 3 saves. 

 

Bard may not be Boston’s closer in 2011, but his day will come.  Like Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and others, Bard’s Red Sox future is very promising.  And to think he could have been Mariano Rivera’s future replacement…  L

 

 

What? No Drama?…

 

No drama; just quiet efficiency from Javier Vazquez and the Yankees…

 

 

Javier Vazquez gives the Yankees seven solid innings against the Oakland Athletics Monday night and Mark Teixeira (b.) powers the offense with a solo homer.

Ben Margot/AP

 

 

During the last road trip, the Yankees struggled in the games following their cross-country jaunts…both to and from.  Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on a 10th inning walk-off run-scoring single by Marcus Thames before heading to California.  With no off-day, they played the Oakland A’s on Monday night and picked up another win, 3-1.  This time, they led from beginning to end, and everyone did exactly what they were supposed to.

 

Javier Vazquez has definitely rebounded from his disastrous start and has quietly been the Yankees most effective starter for the past month.  He pitched 7 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run (he walked 2 and struck out 2).  Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera retired all three batters they faced in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.  No runners in scoring position.  No wild pitches.  No balks.  No hit batters.  No bloop singles.  It was exactly what you would want from a pitching staff.  It was nice seeing a pitcher other than a Yankee with a hand to the face for a change (I like to call this the CC Sabathia pose…okay, “like” might not be the right word)…

 

 

 

Ben Sheets worked a season-high 71/3 innings, but without... Ben Margot / AP

 Ben Margot/AP

 

 

The Yankees had scored early with two runs in the 2nd innings thanks to a run-scoring triple by Curtis Granderson and a run-scoring single by Francisco Cervelli.  The A’s answered with a run in the 3rd when Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly to score Cliff Pennington, who had tripled.  It would be the final time in the game for the A’s to get a runner past second base.  Mark Teixeira added an insurance run with a homer in the 6th inning.  Only two batters in the Yankees lineup were hitless (Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez). 

 

 

0706teixeira2.JPG

Monica M. Davey/EPA

 

 

Game time was only 2 hours, 35 minutes.  Very un-Yankee like! 

 

For all the wins this year, I’d say that this one had the least amount of stress that I’ve experienced and that includes any blowouts.  On one hand, I have very excited that Javier Vazquez has turned it around.  I was starting to buy into the talk that he wasn’t anything more than a National League pitcher.  Of course, I do have the fear that he could revert to the awful early season form.  The downside, if that happens, is that the timing of his improvement probably nixes any chance that the Yankees would pursue Seattle’s Cliff Lee.  The team has greater needs, but Lee would be a nice addition given the strong potential for Andy Pettitte’s off-season retirement and Vazquez’s impending free agency. 

 

 

Gail Burton/AP

 

 

Speaking of Pettitte, congratulations to him for making the American League All-Star Team as a replacement for Boston’s injured starter Clay Buchholz.  The AL All-Stars are definitely taking a very Yankee-like appearance, however, I do feel that the starter in the All-Star Game should be Boston’s Jon Lester. 

Since I’ve made the segue to the Red Sox, it’s time for another installment of my “forced” spotlight on a member of the Boston Red Sox (thanks to a wager loss to my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants).  For today’s profile, I’ll go with the closer…

 

#58        Jonathan Papelbon

 

 

 

One of the few Red Sox stars not actually on the Disabled List, Pap has been with the Sox since 2005 (becoming the closer in 2006).  Originally, he was projected to be a starter, but a shoulder injury caused the Red Sox to re-think their strategy and as a result, Papelbon has become one of the AL’s premier closers. 

 

He was born in Baton Rouge, LA on November 23, 1980.  After a highly successful high school career in Jacksonville, FL, he went to Mississippi State where he was the team’s closer for three years.  He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2003 but did not sign in order to stay  in college for one more year in a subsequently failed attempt to reach the College World Series.  The next year, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. 

 

Despite the relief appearances when he was called up in 2005, the team’s plan, as previously mentioned, was to put Papelbon into the rotation in 2006.  The closer at the time, Keith Foulke, was unable to capture his pre-injury form, and Pap took over as the guy at the back end of the pitching staff. 

 

Pap’s accomplishments include throwing the game-ending strikeout to win the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies.  Since 2006, he has had at least 35 saves each season with a high of 41 in 2008.  He has 170 saves for his career.  In 301 games, he sports an ERA of 2.03 in 332 innings pitched with 376 strikeouts.   He is the franchise leader in saves, and as hard as it is to believe, the first Red Sox closer to record two 30-save seasons.

 

 

 

 

He holds several records:

 

·        Most consecutive scoreless innings to start a post-season career (26 innings).

·        Most saves by a rookie closer (35 saves).

 

Papelbon has two younger twin brothers in baseball.  Josh is in the Red Sox organization (AA Portland), while Jeremy is with the Cubs (AA Tennessee). 

 

Hey Julia, how many more of these do I have to go?  Geesh!  ;) 

 

–Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day Filled with Fireworks!…

Welcome back, Marcus Thames!…

 

 

thames_mills_yanks.jpg

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger

 

Despite a brief time away (trip to the DL), Marcus Thames made the most of his return to the team with a pinch-hit run-scoring single to drive in the winning run in the Yankees’ 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  Nothing like July 4th and a day at Yankee Stadium to celebrate Thames return with a little pie…

 

 

Yanks beat Blue Jays, 7-6, on Marcus Thames RBI single

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

 

The Yankees had taken the early lead in the game, but the continued struggles of Phil Hughes allowed the Jays to go ahead in the top of the 5th.  The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the 6th with a two-run inside-the-park home run by speedy Brett Gardner. 

 

The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the 7th, but like recent games, the bullpen was not up to the task.  However, this time, the game tying run was not scored against Damaso Marte or Joba Chamberlain, but against Mariano Rivera in the 9th.   With go-ahead run on third, Alex Gonzalez grounded into a force out to end the threat.  The Yankees failed to score in the bottom of the frame, so it was off to extra innings.

 

Like the inning before, the Blue Jays had their chances in the 10th.  With David Robertson starting the inning in relief of Rivera, he allowed the first two hitters to reach base (a single and a walk).  The next batter, Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a double play on a bunt attempt, which pushed the go-ahead run to third.  Robertson intentionally issued a free pass to Lyle Overbay, who had homered earlier in the game, before getting former Yankee Jose Molina to strike out. 

 

So, it was off to the bottom of the 10th.  As usual, Robinson Cano was involved in the action as he walked to lead things off.  He was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Francisco Cervelli.  Curtis Granderson struck out, but Brett Gardner reached base on a two-out walk.  Up to the plate came Marcus Thames, who had just been re-activated from the DL.  Thames worked the count full before slashing a hit to center to score Cano with the winning run.  Welcome back, Marcus, you’ve been missed! 

 

 

Uli Seit/The New York Times

 

 

It was an exciting day for the Yankees, particularly since the Boston Red Sox were losing to the Baltimore Orioles.  It would have been nicer for Hughes and Mo to post more memorable appearances on the day they were selected to the All-Star team, but of course, being an All-Star is not about one game.   

 

When American League manager Joe Girardi takes the field at the All-Star Game in Anaheim on July 13th , he’ll have plenty of familiar faces joining him (and Hughes and Rivera as previously mentioned) as MLB announced the following Yankees had made the All-Star team:

 

Derek Jeter

Robinson Cano

Alex Rodriguez

CC Sabathia

Phil Hughes

Mariano Rivera

 

 


Congrats.JPG

 

Jeter and Cano are starters, Jeter’s 11th All-Star appearance and Cano’s second.  Rodriguez was tabbed as a reserve by Girardi primarily since A-Rod is third in the AL with RBI’s at 62 (behind fellow All-Stars Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Cabrera). 

 

The Yankees have a chance for a 7th All-Star with Nick Swisher in the running for the Final Vote.  Special voting is open until Thursday at 4 pm Eastern.  Swish faces steep competition from Kevin Youkilis (Boston), Delmon Young (Minnesota), Michael Young (Texas), and Paul Konerko (Chicago). 

 

Congratulations to all of the AL and NL All-Stars! 

 

Well, alas, it is once again time for the “forced” spotlight on a Boston Red Sox player (thanks to my wager loss to Julia of Julia’s Rants).  Before, I embark on yet another painful journey, I do have to say that I am quite amazed at what the Red Sox have been able to do (within striking distance of the AL East lead) with a disabled list that looks like an All-Star team:

 

Disabled List

NO.

NAME

POS

BAT

THW

AGE

HT

WT

BIRTH PLACE

SALARY

19

Josh Beckett DL

SP

R

R

30

6-5

220

Spring, TX

$12,100,000

17

Manny Delcarmen DL

RP

R

R

28

6-2

205

Boston, MA

$905,000

2

Jacoby Ellsbury DL

LF

L

L

26

6-1

185

Madras, OR

$496,500

32

Jeremy Hermida DL

LF

L

R

26

6-3

200

Atlanta, GA

$3,345,000

25

Mike Lowell DL

DH

R

R

36

6-3

210

San Juan, Puerto Rico

$12,500,000

41

Victor Martinez DL

C

B

R

31

6-2

210

Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela

$7,700,000

15

Dustin Pedroia DL

2B

R

R

26

5-9

180

Woodland, CA

$3,750,000

33

Jason Varitek DL

C

B

R

38

6-2

230

Rochester, MI

$3,000,000

 

 

I also read today that All-Star Clay Buchholz is most likely headed for the DL.  I may not be a fan of the Red Sox but I am not a fan of these injuries.  Hopefully, these guys will return to health in the near future.  In the meantime, I’m sure the Red Sox will keep knocking on the door. 

 

For the latest installment, I will go with one of the so-called replacement players who has done a good job helping to fill in for the loss of left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (and Mike Cameron when he was out)….

 

 

#54        Darnell McDonald

 

 

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

 

 

I can remember when Darnell and his older brother, Donzell, were highly touted youths with the Orioles and Yankees, respectively.  Neither materialized with their respective teams, and I had long forgotten the McDonald brothers when Darnell’s contract was purchased from AAA Pawtucket in April when Ellsbury went to the DL.  He had been signed as a minor league free agent in January.  Julia was very quick to inform me when McDonald homered in his first at bat with the Red Sox.  He has done a capable job since he joined the Red Sox (5 home runs, 20 RBI’s, and .260 batting average).   

 

Darnell played high school baseball with Cherry Creek High School in Denver, Colorado.  He was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles in 1997.  He would stay in the minors for the duration of his Orioles career, enjoying only a brief call up in 2003.  His stops between Baltimore and Boston included the Minnesota Twins and the Cincinnati Reds.  He hit his first major league home run on August 30, 2009 against Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

 

At 31 years of age, Darnell is enjoying the greatest stretch of his professional career.  He showed that he was a wise off-season acquisition by GM Theo Epstein who is notorious for the low cost, high upside approach to free agency.  He has believed in the dream since his days as one of the best high school players in the nation, and it is finally happening for him in Boston. 

 

So, whatever happened to brother and former Yankee Donzell?   He currently plays for Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League. 

 

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

 

–Scott

 

 

Feeling The Heat…

Two games in two days, but only one win to show for it…

 

 


Lonely.JPG 

 

 

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind.  On Thursday, Alex Rodriguez won the game with an 8th inning “walk-off” home run…except there were still 3 more outs to go.  Today, despite a very strong rebound by a Dave Eiland-supported A.J. Burnett, the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays in extra innings due to a porous bullpen.

 

 

New York Yankees vs Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on July 2, 2010.

Zach Ornitz/The Star Ledger

 

In Thursday’s game, CC Sabathia was solid.  He didn’t have his best stuff, however, he was pitching a shutout into the 8th inning when he surrendered a game-tying two-run single to Russell Branyan.  In the bottom of the 8th, Alex Rodriguez homered to right with Mark Teixeira on base.  Thinking it was the 9th inning, A-Rod raised his arms and looked toward the dugout before realizing there was more baseball to be played.  Fortunately, Mariano Rivera ensured the hit was the game-winner as the Yankees defeated the Seattle Mariners, 4-2, to avoid getting swept at home.

 

 

Mark Teixeira waits at the plate to celebrate with Alex Rodgriguez after A-Rod's eighth-inning blast breaks a 2-2 tie and lifts Yankees to 4-2 win.

Sabo/NY Daily News

 

On Friday, the bats decided to take the day off even though the team was scheduled to play an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays (the offense must have thought game time was 7:05 p.m.).  With pitching coach Dave Eiland back in the fold and working to help A.J. Burnett correct the flaws in his delivery, A.J. pitched the best he has in several months.  He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only 4 hits, 3 walks and no runs, with 6 strikeouts.  But Joba Chamberlain did what he does best in giving up the lead by allowing a run-scoring single in the 8th which tied the game.  In the 11th inning, the bullpen came undone with David Robertson and Chan Ho Park as they gave up 5 runs in the 6-1 loss.  The Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 3rd with the bases loaded and no outs, but couldn’t push any runs across the plate. 

 

 

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain allows the game-tying run in the 8th inning, wasting 6-2/3 shutout innings from A.J. Burnett (below).

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

 

With Boston’s win tonight (3-2 over the Baltimore Orioles), the Yankees hold only a very slim ½ game lead over the injury-riddled Red Sox.

 

 

Bill Hall, left, congratulated J.D. Drew on his home run in the second inning.

Boston Globe staff

 

 

Boston keeps losing players but it hasn’t slowed them in the least.  The latest casualty is catcher Jason Varitek who was placed on the DL with a broken foot.  Since Victor Martinez is also on the DL, the team reached out to the Houston Astros to bring back former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash (who spent time with the Yankees in 2009).

 

 

Catcher Kevin Cash of the New York Yankees runs out a hit against the Toronto Blue Jays February 25, 2009 at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kevin Cash

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images 

 

Let’s see, for the fourth player installment of my “forced” spotlight on the Boston Red Sox, I’ll go with the first baseman of the Red Sox.  As the result of a lost wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants, I have to include a paragraph about every member of the Red Sox roster as of 6/26/10, so today the spotlight is on the player affectionately known as “Youk”. 

 

 

#20     Kevin Youkilis

 

 

 

Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox discusses his strike out with home plate umpire Andy Fletcher in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles on July 2, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Elsa/Getty Images

 

 

Kevin Edmund Youkilis was born on March 15, 1979 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He is of Romanian descent despite the Greek surname.  In an interesting note of fact, he had an uncredited one-line speaking role in the movie, Milk Money, when he was just 14 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

Youk was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2001 after a solid collegiate career with the Cincinnati Bearcats.  After working his way up through the Red Sox farm system, he made his debut with the team during the championship 2004 season.  He homered in his first major league game against Pat Hentgen and the Toronto Blue Jays.  He would spend the next two years going back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket before finally landing in the majors to stay.  While he came up as a third baseman, he has been the starting first baseman since 2006.  On the roster during the 2004 World Series, he didn’t get to play but that was not the case in 2007.  While he did sit when the Series was played in Colorado (due to the loss of the DH and the move of David Ortiz to first base), Youk help the Red Sox secure their second championship in three years.

 

 

 

Youk is well known for his charitable work, and he founded Kevin Youkilis Hits For Kids, a non-profit dedicated to the health and safety of children.  Here is a link to the organization:

 

http://www.youkskids.org/

 

My frustration with Youk is that he is always in the middle of a rally.  Whether it is a hit or walk or simply his intensity and gritty play, he always seems to be in the thick of the action, making something out of nothing.  His uncanny ability to get on base is what coined the nickname “Greek God of Walks” in the best-selling book, Moneyball.  It’s never fun to see him come to the plate…unless you’re a Red Sox fan.  The Red Sox might lose players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and others to the DL, but as long as Youk is in the lineup, they’re not going away.  As Julia is always so quick to point out, “things in the mirror are much closer than they appear to be”.   Unfortunately, because of guys like Youk, she’s right…

 

Tomorrow is a new day!  Go Yankees!  :)

 

–Scott

 

 

 

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