Results tagged ‘ Iowa Hawkeyes ’

A Trip Down the Canyon of Heroes…

 

I wish we could do this more often…

 

Josh Haner/The New York Times

 

Those were the words of Yogi Berra as he travelled down the Canyon of Heroes yesterday during the Yankees Parade in New York City.

 

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AP

 

I am right there with ya, Yogi!  Let’s do it again next year!

 

Yankees parade 1

Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger

 

Yankee Fans Celebrate Their 2009 World Series Champions

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

Friday was the day for Yankees fans all over the World.  Of course, most of us couldn’t make the trip to the City, but about two million fans lined the streets as the floats bearing the Yankee players made their way down Manhattan.

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post 

 

When the season started, who would have thought this would have been possible?  A-Rod was on the DL after undergoing hip surgery, so the starting third  baseman was Cody Ransom.  The bullpen was imploding regularly, led by Jose Veras.  Mark Teixeira forgot his bat in Tampa.  And there were regular calls for the head of manager Joe Girardi.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little 0-8 start against the guys from Beantown.  Nevertheless, Alex Rodriguez returned in May and the team, figuratively and literally, never looked back.  When Boston was winning their championships, they displayed a ‘don’t quit’ mentality, and that was never more evident for the Yankees than this season.

 

The third baseman's huge hit ties the game up at 3 and the game heads into the 12th.

Antonelli/NY Daily News 

 

The off-season acquisitions were tremendous.  I know, the jokes about the Yankees’ financial advantage have reverberated throughout the country.  I think Conan O’Brien’s line was “It’s amazing what hard work, determination and a half billion bucks will do for you!”.  While I agree that they have the revenue to keep the team competitive year in and year out, if you don’t spend the money on the right players, you will not win.  Every year is a challenge to put together the right mix of team chemistry.  Sometimes it is less about ability than it is cohesiveness.   GM Brian Cashman certainly deserves much credit for putting together the 2009 Yankees.  I am not sure that this could have happened a few years ago when there was a clear power struggle between the Yankees front office in New York and the group in Tampa, led by Mark Newman.

 

CC Sabathia (l.) celebrates with fans (and Mark Teixeira, r.) along Canyon of Heroes.

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

During the season, I felt the Yankees needed to make a move for a frontline starter and it was difficult to watch Cliff Lee go to Philadelphia and Scott Kazmir to the Angels.  But in the end, Cash was right to stand pat.  We didn’t give up any major talent, and now super prospect Austin Jackson stands ready in the wings to take command of center field.  A trade for a quality starting pitcher could have potentially cost the Yankees Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, A-Jax, or one of the other high level prospects that can contribute to Yankee success in 2010 or 2011.  So, thanks to Cash for executing a brilliant plan and sticking to it.  His perseverance guaranteed the trip down the Canyon of Heroes, and hopefully ensures that this will not be the last one for owner George Steinbrenner. 

 

George Steinbrenner with daughter Jessica at the Yankees' home opener.

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

A few memories from yesterday’s parade…

 

Hideki Matsui at parade 11-06-09

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

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Reuters

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

 

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Kevin P. Coughlin

 

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Getty Images

 

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Victoria Will/New York Post

 

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Paul Martinka

Congratulations to the 2009 World Champions…

 

New York Yankees!

 

Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees celebrate winning their 27th World Series championship, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

In other notes, the Angels acted very quickly in re-signing former Yankee Bobby Abreu to a two-year $19 million deal.  It is a good move on their part.  He helped to energize an Angels line up that came within one team of making it to the World Series.

 

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

 

The Red Sox were also very quick to make a move as they acquired young, under-achieving outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins.  What, are the Marlins the minor league farm club for the Red Sox?  This is starting to feel like what the Kansas City A’s were to the Yankees back in the 50′s.  Nevertheless, Hermida is a former first round pick and is only 25.  The Red Sox gave up a couple of minor league pitching prospects but not any of their upper shelf talent.  This was a very good low-risk, high-reward move by Theo Epstein.

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

The Yankees primary concerns heading into the off-season will be the statuses of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Andy Pettitte.  Of the three, the only one I expect to return is Andy Pettitte.  I think Pettitte will take his usual time to decide if he’ll return but then he’ll sign a one-year deal somewhere around or after Christmas.  Matsui, the World Series MVP, and Damon are less certain.  Time and again, Matsui delivered the key hit to rescue the Yanks.  However, he is a liability in the field and the Yanks have too many DH-types.  I like Damon’s attitude and versality, however, I’d like to see someone with a stronger arm in left field.  You’ll never see Damon gun someone down at the plate, unless the runner is Drew Carey…

 

 

I think both Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang are gone, although I do have reluctance in seeing both leave.

 

Kim Klement/US Presswire

 

 

In Los Angeles, it looks like Manny Ramirez will be back for another year with Joe Torre and the Dodgers.  Manny exercised his $20 million player option on Friday.  I think Manny has a lot to prove during the coming year.  I cannot say that I followed the team closely during the season, but it seemed to me that the Dodgers were a stronger unit while Manny was serving his 50-game suspension.  It will be interesting to see which Manny shows up in the spring.

 

 

The fourth-ranked University of Iowa Hawkeyes look to extend their streak against Northwestern.  I have been a Hawkeyes fan for as long as I can remember…I guess it’s a product of growing up in an Iowa farming community.   The stakes are very high for the 9-0 Hawks at this point in the season.  They lead the Big Ten, however, the Ohio State Buckeyes loom in the horizon.  The Buckeyes play the Penn State Nittany Lions in a very pivotal game this weekend, and then the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes will meet for the final regular season game.  I’ll be pulling for Penn State, but hopefully the Hawks can continue their ride in the driver’s seat.  Of course, they have been cursed by the cover of Sports Illustrated so I am a little uneasy…

 

 

Hey Julia, I was reading the Boston Globe and read something about the Boston Celtics getting “sunburned”.  I hope they’re okay!  LOL!  So much for the streak!  J

 

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, foreground, reacts to a foul called on him as Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley (3) looks on during the second half.

Associated Press

Next Round, please…

 

First Objective…Complete!…

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

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

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

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

 

 

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

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  AP 

 

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

 

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  Matthew Holst/Press-Citizen

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit:  Pioneer Press 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Mission (nearly) Accomplished!…

 

The day brought several victories on the homefront…

 

Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP

 

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

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

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

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

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

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

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

 

 

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

 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

 

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

 

 

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

 

Lou Gehrig Yankees MLB Prostyle Player T-shirt

 

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

 

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

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

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

 

 

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

 

Credit:  Henny Ray Abrams/AP

 

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

 

Credit:  Boston.com

 

Go Yankees!

 

Credit:  Simmons/Daily News

 

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

 

Credit:  Matthew Holst/Press Citizen

 

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

 

Credit:  abcnews.com

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