Results tagged ‘ Lou Gehrig ’
Grace and dignity…
Unfortunately, this day was inevitable. Father Time catches up with everyone, including the greatest closer in the history of Major League Baseball.
Saturday, the great Mariano Rivera confirmed the speculation of the last few days. The 2013 season will be his final one as the champion of the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium.
Mo has been my favorite Yankee since the time he was the “lights-out” set up guy for closer John Wetteland in the 1996 season. Wetteland was effective, but there were always a few anxious moments. Rivera, on the other hand, completely dominated the hitters prior to turning the ball over to Wetteland. There were so many times that I had wished manager Joe Torre would have stayed with Rivera rather than pulling him for Wetteland. While it was Rivera’s talent and ability that caught my attention, it was his character…full of grace, dignity, and professionalism…that has made me an enduring fan all these years.
Rivera has taught so many over the years how to forget life’s failures and how to enjoy its successes without gloating or antagonizing opponents. He has always respected the game and never once in his career has he placed himself above the game or above others.
Relievers have had their struggles gaining acceptance into the Hall of Fame, but in my mind, Rivera should be a first ballot entry.
It was appropriate that Mo wore the number #42. As the final active player to wear the number after it was retired league-wide, he has upheld the legacy of Jackie Robinson…perhaps better than anyone else could have. Jackie endured far more challenges and difficulties than I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend, but he paved the path for others including Mariano Rivera to succeed. Mo embodies the depth of character that Jackie Robinson had and it is tremendous that #42 hanging in Memorial Park will stand for two of the greatest men in baseball’s long history.
It has been a privilege to call Mo my favorite player for so many years. As I think back upon my life as a Yankees fan, it was Jim “Catfish” Hunter who first attracted me to the Yankees when he signed as a free agent in 1974, along with my high regard for the legendary Lou Gehrig. Once a Yankees fan, my favorite player quickly changed to the heart and soul of the team…catcher Thurman Munson. I have always loved to see passion in doing what you enjoy, and Thurman was certainly as fiery and passionate as they come. The 1976 World Series still stands out to me. Although the Yankees were swept by the Cincinnati Reds, it wasn’t because of Munson, who hit over .500 in the series. If the rest of the team could have matched Munson’s intensity that year, they would have defeated the Big Red Machine.
After Thurman’s untimely death in 1979 (a day that I will always vividly remember, like so many Yankee fans), Rich “Goose” Gossage became my favorite player. After a few years, he had moved on to the San Diego Padres as a free agent. But by that time, Don Mattingly had become my favorite player. Donnie Baseball was one of the great ones and it’s unfortunate that back problems caused the premature end of his production and subsequently career. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be in the Hall of Fame if he had been able to sustain his production for a few more years. Donnie Baseball will always be a favorite and he’s the reason that I consider the Los Angeles Dodgers to be my favorite NL team. When Mattingly retired after the 1995 play-off loss to the Seattle Mariners, I became a Mariano Rivera fan.
As I look to life beyond 2013, I cannot say that any one player stands out as a potential favorite player. But as history has proven to me, the door will open for the next great Yankees superstar to take the stage.
None of this is meant to knock Derek Jeter. He has been a terrific player for so many years and can match Rivera in depth and quality of character stride for stride. He’ll be taking his place in Cooperstown one day, but for me, this day is about Mariano Rivera. Enter the Sandman…Exit the Legend.
I look forward to watching Mo for one more season. Regardless of the outcome, he is a champion…
A tough “break”…
For the entire off-season, I was hopeful the Yankees would invest in a young, promising outfielder who, at the very least, could fill a fourth outfielder role but with the potential to be a future regular. Alas, it was not meant to be. So, it only added salt into the wound with today’s news that CF/LF Curtis Granderson will miss ten weeks with a fractured forearm.
I guess this temporarily puts an end to speculation about whether or not Brett Gardner will move to center. For now, the job is his, so the focus will be on left field. As it stands, the frontrunners are Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, but that’s not going to cast fear in anyone’s heart except for maybe Joe Girardi and the fans. It would be wonderful if Zoilo Almonte could become the spring phenom and break camp as the starting left fielder but that’s probably asking a bit much for a AA player.
If the Yankees had a stronger young shortstop, it might be time to try the new guard at short and move Derek Jeter to left. But I don’t think Angelo Gumbs or Cito Culver are anywhere close, and I wouldn’t move Jeter for Eduardo Nunez. With the possibility that this is the last season in New York for free agent to be Granderson, the day will come when Jeter needs to vacate short if he intends to keep playing and left field is the most natural fit.
I am not in favor of the Yankees overpaying for a 10-week rental like Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells even if their respective current teams are willing to foot the bill for the majority of monies still owed to those players. Yes, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing Soriano come back home, but I am not sure that either of those players would be the answer. As it was, the Yankees were talking about scoring fewer runs in 2013 than they did last year. I guess that gulf just widened, which puts more pressure on the Yankees starting rotation.
GM Brian Cashman won’t make a knee-jerk reaction to find a replacement, but I am hopeful that he’ll come up with a low cost acquisition to help bridge the loss until Grandy returns in May.
Fun times in the Bronx…or should I say in Tampa at Steinbrenner Field…
Is #36 the batboy?…
I cannot get used to seeing Kevin Youkilis without his goatee. He looks like such a boy without the trademark facial hair. I know that he hasn’t always gone unshaven in Boston, but he simply looks smaller, younger, and less fearful than I remember him as a Red Sock. Let’s hope that plate discipline and the reputation as the Greek God of Walks still remains. Personally, I wish that the former Sock could have gotten a better number than #36 but as long as Youk’s happy, I am happy. I don’t know the Yankees’ plans for Jorge Posada’s #20 but I would have given it to Youk. But if that number is untouchable, I probably would have gone something cool in the higher numbers like #72 or #99. As a fan of Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, I would have taken #74.
I finally watched Argo this weekend. It is a very good movie. I was in Air Force basic training when the hostages were captured in Iran, so it brought back memories. I knew that the writers took creative license to make the movie very dramatical, but regardless, the rescue of those specific hostages were very significant. The Canadians deserve more credit than they were given, but it was an intense moment in American history and Ben Affleck did an tremendous job in re-telling the story.
Jack Nicholson is out now to present the Best Picture on the Oscars. My gut tells me that it will be Lincoln. I thought it was a good movie, but it wasn’t, in my opinion, great. So, regardless of who wins, any of the losers were certainly deserving of the win. So, the winner is…
Very nice! They made the right decision…
Maybe the Yanks should be spending some extra cash on PowerBall…
I get that $200 million is a lot of money, and the Yankees have been the only team to play in that neighborhood “salary-wise” until the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the party. But I am surprised to hear Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner making comments about the disbelief in fan reaction to the team’s non-activity outside of re-signing its key free agents. Yes, that point is huge. Re-signing Huroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Andy Pettitte were essential to the team’s hopes for 2013 so I do not dispute the importance of the team taking care of those players. While I like the signings of 3B Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner, there are huge injury risks prevalent with both players. I could be wrong but I doubt either player gives the Yankees at least 140 games this year.
My point and frustration with the Yankees ownership is the loss of free agents catcher Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Nick Swisher to the Cleveland Indians. Catching is left to a couple of career back-ups, including one recently associated with PED rumors, unless touted prospect Austin Romine can step it up and make his presence felt in the Bronx sooner rather than later. In right field, the Yankees do have Ichiro but he’s not getting any younger. He certainly won’t provide the pop that Swisher could. He’ll make more happen on the base paths, but isn’t that what Brett Gardner is for? Sometimes, a team needs to make a move to excite the fan base. I do not equate that to throwing money away to satisfy the fans, but making calculated, smart moves that give the team something to build upon.
As it stands, the possibility the Yankees lose Robinson Cano to free agency is high. Yes, ownership makes the comments about how they want him to be a Yankee for life. However, I seriously doubt the organization is going to give an 8 to 10 year deal to a 30-year old veteran player even if he is the team’s best player. We have A-Rod to thank for making ownership a bit gun shy, and rightfully so. I think the single biggest detriment to keeping the Yankees from winning the World Series in the next few years is A-Rod. If you could take those dollars and invest them in better, cheaper resources, the team would be much stronger and the goal of coming in under $189 million next year would be possible.
If catching is a debacle and the older Yankees show their age, this is going to be a very long season. Personally, I think this will be Manager Joe Girardi’s most challenging year. He’ll be riding the hot seat all year long, especially if the Yankees get off to a sluggish start in April. It is a given that Mark Teixeira’s bat won’t show up until around Memorial Day so I am fearful the team will become too dependent on guys like Youk and Hafner which could overexpose them and increase the likelihood of injury. Now would be the time for infielder Eduardo Nunez to step up in a huge way…
The argument can be made that every team in the AL East has the ability to play better than .500 ball, and all have the wherewithal to win the division outright. My guess, at this point, is the division goes to the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving the Yanks, Red Sox, Orioles and Rays to fight it out for a Wild Card spot.
But it’s a long season, and there is always the potential the Yankees do make the necessary moves to ensure a strong chance for October success.
The Giambino back in the AL…
I saw a report this morning that former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has signed a $750,000 minor league deal and invitation to training camp with the Cleveland Indians. It seems a bit strange to see Giambi on a team managed by Terry Francona, but if used in the right way, Giambi could help the Indians. As the Toby Keith song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”. While I think Giambi should have retired, I am sure that he’ll begin his coaching career soon enough and it’s not a bad idea to learn a trick or two from one of the better managers in baseball.
It’s just a number…
Although the Yankees active roster on MLB.com has not been updated, it looks like Kevin Youkilis is going to wear #36. I would have preferred to see the team dust off Jorge Posada’s #20 given that was Youk’s number in Boston. I am not trying to be disrespectful to Jorge, but I’ve never been a big fan of retired numbers unless the guy was an absolute legend like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Posada had a great career, but I simply do not put him in the same category with catching greats Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra or Thurman Munson. With all the retired and reserved Yankee numbers, it is inevitable that many players will be joining Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the 60’s or higher.
Time to head to Florida and Arizona…
With all the snow Boston has received this weekend, it’s hard to believe that baseball training camps start to open this week. It feels much more like baseball weather where I sit in California as temps are expected to reach the 70’s this week, but for my friends in Boston, I am hoping all are safe and warm. It was a good thing that Truck Day happened before the weather emergency. Even as a Yankees fan, I would never wish ill will on the Red Sox or their fans. As they say, you have to beat the best to be the best and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
How come there are no players available through Groupon?…
It’s a new year but the new fiscally-responsible Yankees are still in late-2012’s penny-pinching mode and all remains quiet at River and 161st.
The latest move is the waiver pickup of utility man Russ Canzler who can play the corners and some outfield. By all accounts, he is less talented than the guy he replaced on the 40-man roster (outfielder Chris Dickerson) but a better fit overall. I only hope the Yankees are able to flip Dickerson, who was DFA’d, for a decent prospect. There’s no doubt the Yankees need good depth behind third baseman Kevin Youkilis who has not exactly been the pillar of health in recent years.
At this point, I would be really surprised to see the Yankees make any bold moves. It appears they are willing to go to spring training to see what shakes out. A few years ago, when Mark Teixeira left the Los Angeles Angels via free agency, the Angels’ farm system produced Kendrys Morales as a very capable replacement. When Morales went down to a season-ending injury a year or so later, Mark Trumbo stepped up. Of course, the Yankees do not have that type of depth in the farm system, particularly at first base, but there’s always the possibility that someone somewhere unexpectedly takes it to the next level.
Clearly, the Yankees would benefit greatly by having a few more cost-controlled young players on the roster. But as far as major league ready prospects go, the Yankees need another year or two as the best talent is still in the lower levels. I guess that means we’ll see more Russ Canzler type moves as GM Brian Cashman tries to capture lightning in a bottle.
If the Yankees underperform in 2013, are manager Joe Girardi and/or Cashman at risk for losing their jobs? Or does the team’s current reduced spending posture mean ownership will be more tolerant of losses? It remains to be seen but this is clearly putting Girardi and Cashman in the proverbial hot seats.
Scott Hairston, if your choices are the Mets or the Yankees, what are you waiting for? Your brother looked great in pinstripes and you can too! With Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki as the starters, you are assured of receiving numerous quality at-bat’s in the Bronx and you are wanted by the team. I might be biased but who wouldn’t want to put on the same jersey as Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and so many other legends?…
Maybe we should just flip a coin to see who makes the play-offs…
I am glad to see the NHL has finally resolved its differences with the players and have agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement. However, it will be tough, admittedly, to be energized about a 48- or 50-game season. If your favorite team struggles at the start of the season, it could possibly cost them play-off contention. An entire season would have looked radically different than the upcoming shortened season. Every year, new stars and heroes emerge and I wonder about the guys who could have been that star but now may never get the opportunity. I guess pure talent perseveres, but still, there were far too many sacrifices made for the lockout.
Play-off loss, but a very successful season…
I was not optimistic about the Minnesota Vikings’ chances against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, particularly given the game was being held at Lambeau Field. I did not realize that Christian Ponder’s elbow injury threatened his ability to play so Sunday’s announcement that he had been ruled inactive came as a shock. The designated starter, Joe Webb, had not started a NFL game in two years. Say what you will about quality practices and reps, but there’s nothing better than playing the games. So, I did not expect Webb to provide a championship performance. He didn’t, and the 24-10 loss was pretty much as expected.
Nevertheless, what a terrific season by the Vikings! At the beginning of the year, the talk was the team would be drafting high in April 2013, perhaps as high as second or third. Yet, the team won 10 games and made the play-offs over the Chicago Bears. Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards was an incredible accomplishment. I remember being envious of the Bears when Walter Payton was playing as it was clear he was head and shoulders above everyone else. But the Vikings have that guy in Peterson. It was a special season to build upon and hopefully it will propel the Vikings to legitimate contender status in 2013.
Happy New Year to All!
I thought I was supposed to wear the white uniform!…
In recent years, it has seemed as though no Yankee trade sneaks up on you. Even with Curtis Granderson, there were rumors swirling around before the deal was finally consummated. It has seemed like the press has been tapped into GM Brian Cashman’s inner thoughts. But admittedly, the Ichiro Suzuki trade surprised me.
Years ago, this would have been a headline deal but it’s now obviously the acquisition of a former great player in the twilight of his career.
In recent weeks, I had seen other owners in fantasy leagues start to drop Ichiro from their rosters. I had not been keeping up with his stats but I knew he was no longer the player he once was. But if anything, Derek Jeter has shown what goes down does not necessarily have to stay down. Some are suggested that Ichiro will be revitalized in the midst of a pennant race and the spotlight of New York. Maybe so, maybe not. But if you asked me if I prefer Ichiro in the outfield over DeWayne Wise or exposing Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez to too much play, the answer would be, without hesitation, yes. I was a bit disappointed when I first heard the news of the trade as visions of Shane Victorino or Denard Span were dancing in my head. Yet, the realist in me knows that the cost to acquire either of those players would have exceeded the reward. On the other hand, Ichiro is simply a rental for the remainder of the season. He’ll be a free agent in the off-season so he’ll hand left field back to Brett Gardner when he departs the Stadium in October.
I remember the thrill of seeing my first game at Safeco Field. The player I was most interested in seeing was Ichiro and he did not disappoint. He came through with a few clutch hits and showed why he has been one of the better players over the past decade. The Yankees have missed a clutch bat so hopefully a revitalized Ichiro means that they’ll have the “pest” they need at the plate and on the base paths.
I know that the pitchers the Yankees gave up were not top shelf talent (D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquahar) but they have the chance to be good major league pitchers. I always hate to see good talent leave, especially if Ichiro’s days in pinstripes do not go beyond the next couple of months. I always remember how much I hated watching Jay Buhner punish the Yankees while wearing a Mariners uniform and wondering what could have been if the Yanks had held on to him. Now, with former top prospect Jesus Montero in Seattle, there are multiple players in the Great Northwest who could haunt their former team. The Mariners go for 20-something former Yankees while the Yankees go for almost 40-something ex-Mariners. I think the M’s have the better business formula even if it isn’t showing up in wins quite yet.
Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of the trade, I will admit that it is nice to see Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. It will be even better if he can get on base with consistency and make crossing home plate a common occurrence.
If there’s one thing about the trade that struck me as unusual, it is the consummation of the deal prior to the start of the Yankees-Mariners series in Seattle. The trade guaranteed the Mariners fans would be subjected to watching the first three games of Ichiro’s post-Seattle career in an opposing uniform. Not any uniform but the most hated and despised uniform in most parts of the country outside of NYC. The Yankees apparently had conditions Ichiro had to agree to (batting in the bottom of the order, moving to left, and accepting an outfield rotation to get the bats of Jones and Ibanez into the lineup). So, perhaps the Yankees had the upper hand in this deal and argued that it had to happen sooner rather the later. For the Mariners, the motivation is clearly to move on and to further develop their further stars.
After the Cliff Lee debacle when he went to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak after the Yankees thought they had acquired him, I really didn’t think the Yankees would forgive the Mariners and their general manager. But after the Michael Pineda and Ichiro deals, there is no evidence of hard feelings. Cliff Lee just wasn’t meant to be a Yankee. He proved that with his own decision to rebuke the team to re-sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee is a good pitcher but some guys weren’t meant for Broadway.
The question now is if the Yankees are done dealing before the trading deadline. With the returns of Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte looming on the horizon, perhaps they are the moves that can catapult the Yankees to the World Series. I can’t really think of another move the Yankees need to make other than further enhancing an already good bullpen. Sure, if the Philadelphia Phillies called to say that they’d trade Roy Halladay for Ivan Nova, you’d pull the trigger, but seriously, that’s not going to happen.
For the lack of better words, Ouch!…
After moving back to the Bay Area and living in what is described as A’s territory, it was really tough to see the Yankees swept in four games against the upstart A’s. While the Yankees hold a 7 game lead, the race is far from over. I still expect the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run, and of course, I am always fearful the Boston Red Sox make some major moves that propel them back into contention. I’d be foolish to underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. So, every day, Brian Cashman needs to be trying to find ways to improve the team. The nice thing is that I know he is.
Open the Cooperstown doors now…
I think I read recently that Mariano Rivera would like to make his return in September rather than next spring. While I doubt he’ll be able to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He is clearly one of the most gifted athletes of our time. He is my favorite current Yankee and he’ll be on the fast track to Cooperstown when he retires. I am sure that his spot in Memorial Park has already been reserved, along with Derek Jeter’s. It would have been great to watch guys like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle play, but I am glad that I lived in the Rivera/Jeter era. I look forward to telling my grandchildren that I saw the game’s greatest closer play. As a kid, I thought Rich “Goose” Gossage was the greatest closer. I never realizvbbbbb
But are they Yankees fans?…
I am the proud owner of two rescue kittens named Nathalia and Sophie. They are sisters and at times, they are the synchronized twins. Two American Shorthairs, both black and one with with a white undercoat, they have proven their love of baseball. During the recent Yankees-Red Sox series in Boston, the sisters were engrossed in watching the game, just like their roommate (me). I love this pic…
And the winner is…
The next week should be fun as teams race against the trading deadline. Maybe it will be quiet, maybe not. I fully expect the Red Sox and in particular, GM Ben Cherington, to make a bold move. I respect Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster for preferring to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves (I should qualify that by saying my favorite NL team is the Dodgers). The Tigers have been active as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. I saw tonight that the Pittsburgh Pirates were close to acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, who has long been on the radar for both the Yanks and Red Sox. I almost missed the trade of Astros closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. I think the Sox have the market cornered on goatees.
I am still missing Minneapolis but I am enjoying this baseball season. Life is good.
P.S. Looking for some great photos? Check out Erik van den Ham’s website, http://www.panoramio.com/user/62613. Excellent!
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”…
There is a reason that Mariano Rivera has been my favorite Yankee for a very long time. I know that Derek Jeter is a quality guy and a favorite of many, but for me, Mariano Rivera has always been the premier player in my opinion. It doesn’t mean that I feel Jeter’s not a great player…he is. He is most likely a first ballot Hall of Famer and will go down as the greatest shortstop in Yankees history (with no disrespect to Phil Rizzuto). But Rivera has always handled himself with dignity and class, and he’s always been accountable when things have gone wrong. He has never disrespected another player or team, nor has he placed blame anywhere but with himself. He hasn’t always been perfect, but he’s clearly the best closer in major league history (with no disrespect to Goose Gossage).
I have been dreading the day when Rivera walks off the field as a player for the final time. But I never dreamed that, potentially, his final moment would be inability to walk off the field under his own power. It was very disheartening to see the pre-game injury when Rivera tore the ACL in his knee this week against the Kansas City Royals. I kept hoping for the best when I first heard the news, but it is now known that he’ll miss the remainder of the season. Given that he is 42, the road to recovery is going to harder than if he was still in his 30’s. Nevertheless, withn 24 hours, Rivera was saying that he wasn’t going to go out like this and that he’d be back next season after much speculation this might be his final season prior to the injury.
If Mo says that he’ll back, I am fully confident that he will be. I am sad that we won’t see #42 come out of the bullpen for the rest of the year, but I look forward to next season when Mo perhaps takes the final lap in what has been a legendary career. I will always be appreciative that Rivera wore pinstripes, from beginning to end, and he’ll remain one of my favorites in the history of the storied franchise.
That first step is a doozy…
David Robertson has big shoes to fill as he steps into the closer’s role but I have faith and confidence in his abilities. I hope that Rafael Soriano is up to the challenge of making a positive impact as he slides back into the role of primary setup man. Just as Andy Pettitte has become a much more needed pitcher than he was when it was announced he was going to pitch this year, the need for the return to good health for Joba Chamberlain is equally important. I am glad that one of Manager Joe Girardi’s strengths is his ability to work the bullpen so I continue to view the Yankees relief corps as a strong unit despite Rivera’s absence.
A few favorites…
With Rivera as my favorite current Yankee player, it made me think of my other favorites:
- Favorite living former Yankee: Don Mattingly
- Favorite former Yankee who played during my lifetime: Thurman Munson
- Favorite all-time player: Lou Gehrig
- Favorite manager: Billy Martin (followed closely by Joe Torre)
- Favorite owner: George Steinbrenner
- Favorite current Yankee (excluding Rivera): Robinson Cano
- Favorite Yankees team: 1998 Yankees (closely followed by 1927 Yankees)
There are many other players that I will always have special feelings for…most notably, pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, for whom I attribute to why I am a Yankees fan today. I was a fan of the Oakland A’s and Hunter in particular when I was young, but everything changed when he signed with the Yankees as a free agent in December 1974. I had always admired the history and the tradition of the Yankees (the first book I recall reading was a biography about Lou Gehrig), so bring the combination of the Yankees and Hunter together brought me to the team as a fan. I’ve been a faithful one ever since that time.
I’d be remiss by not mentioning Mickey Mantle. A great player who really could have been even greater than he was. I was able to attend his funeral in Dallas, and I remember seeing a few of the former Yankee greats who were in attendance. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. Bob Costas delivered a tremendous eulogy. It’s amazing to think of what Mantle could have accomplished if he had held himself to the same standards as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do.
Yogi Berra, of course, is an invaluable link to the Yankees’ history of success. There are way too many guys to acknowledge, but these are a few that stand out to me.
Hard to close…
It’s amazing to me how 2012 has been the Year of the Fallen Closers. So many closers on the DL (Rivera, Andrew Bailey, Drew Storen, etc.); so many demotions (Jordan Walden, Carlos Marmol, whoever is pitching for the White Sox, etc.); and guys who are on the brink of losing their jobs (most notable being Heath Bell). This is one of the only years in fantasy baseball where all my bench slots are filled with guys on the DL. But as they say, one guy’s misfortunate is another guy’s opportunity. Sports is about the ability to step up and take it to the next level.
Game of Stars…
I realize that Bryce Harper is only 19 but I am hopeful that he can find success at this level now rather than a return trip to the minor before he is ready. I can’t recall a player who has received as much hype (well, perhaps Stephen Strasburg) but I genuinely would like to see the player match (or even exceed) the hype. It is good for baseball. Robin Yount was in the majors by age 19 and I think he had a fairly successful career (<understatement). While I still question the signing of Jayson Werth, it is fun watching the accumulation of talent in DC. I am just glad they play in the NL and not the AL.
Where’s the caveat?…
When a pitcher throws a no-hitter like Jered Weaver did this week against the Minnesota Twins, they should come up with a degree of difficulty score. C’mon, it was the freakin’ Twins! It wasn’t like Weaver was facing the monster bats of Texas, New York, Tampa, Detroit, or Boston. So, while a no hitter is a great achievement, it’s hard not to discount Weaver’s performance.
What am I doing writing this post? I should be in line to buy my ticket to see The Avengers! Have a great weekend, everyone! J
Congratulations to the Captain!…
Well, I am very wrong about when Derek Jeter would make the 3,000 hit club! I really thought that the last hit to reach the magic number would be the most difficult hit given the enormous pressure associated with it. I must have forgotten it was Derek Jeter we were talking about. There is a reason that he has thrived, time and again, in pressure situations. It was what makes him different from you and me, and why he is a Yankee legend.
Robert Sabo/NY Daily News
When DJ singled during his first at-bat, I felt that yesterday could be the day but again I really thought the at-bat trying for 3,000 would be so difficult. But never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what would happen next. I heard YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay reference that the first major league hit that Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price had given up was a home run to Jeter, but I definitely was not thinking home run. When Jeter came to bat, and blasted the 3,000th hit with homer to left, I was very surprised. For a moment, I had to ask myself if what I just saw was real. There is absolutely no way that it could have been scripted any better.
Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News
After a see-saw game that saw the lead change several times, Derek was responsible for the game winning hit in the 8th as he capped the day by going 5-for-5. My immediate thought was that the game was instantly headed to the YES Network’s library of classic Yankee games.
Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News
The day belonged to Derek Jeter and he deserved it. With so much negativity associated with Major League Baseball at times, Derek is what is so right about the game. When I see younger guys who put the game ahead of themselves, I can’t help but wonder if DJ hasn’t been an influence on their lives in some way, shape or form…the same way that Don Mattingly influenced younger guys like Mark Teixeira.
When Mariano Rivera gave Jeter a hug, I recognized that it was two numbers that will never step on a playing field again when those two are finished with their playing days.
Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News
Congratulations to Derek Jeter for becoming the first New York Yankee to reach 3,000 hits. He stands alone in Yankee history as the only player in its legendary history with 3,000 hits in pinstripes. Alex Rodriguez may be the next Yankee to reach 3,000 hits, but many of his came while he was with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers so it won’t be the same. Derek Jeter is the leader of the New York Yankees, and, somewhere, he most certainly achieved a standing ovation from the great Yankees of the past…Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and many others. I can even hear the late Phil Rizzuto hollering, “Holy Cow!”…
I have been a Yankees fan for exactly 36 years!
How do I know? I
became a Yankees fan the day that free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter,
formerly of the Oakland A’s, signed with the New York Yankees. The date was December 31, 1974. Prior to the signing, like many other people,
I had been a fan of the Athletics.
I was fairly young so my deep interest in baseball didn’t
really materialize until after I had become a Yankees fan. Each year, from the 1975 season until about 1982,
I kept a scrapbook on the season. I’d
record box scores and transactions, and would collect news clippings and
I think it was during the 1981 season that I showed my
scrapbook to then Yankee Oscar Gamble and he autographed it for me. I still carry these scrapbooks around with me
although they’ve been packed in storage for years. One of those days, I will pull them and
re-live those great seasons of Catfish, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry, Sparky
Lyle, Rich Gossage, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Chris Chambliss, Bucky
Dent, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and others.
Becoming a Yankees
fan was easy. One of the very first
books I recall reading as a child was a biography about Lou Gehrig. I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time and I
was so in awe of Gehrig and the history of the Yankees. I am not sure why I didn’t become a Yankees
fan then, but at that point, Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings were my
main spectator sports passion. Baseball
did not really capture my attention until the personalities of the championship
Oakland teams of the early 70′s hit the scene.
It is hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since
Catfish passed away. He was a great
Yankee and one of the best pitchers of his era.
I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me with him to the
Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
As for the current Yankees, not much has been happening
but that’s to be expected this time of year.
Once we get past the holidays, I am sure that we will see movement on
the Andy Pettitte front (will he retire as currently expected by many?). While no frontline starting pitcher looms on
the horizon, the Yankees can help minimize the deficiencies of the starting
staff by building a superior bullpen. I
remain hopeful the team finds a way to bring reliever Rafael Soriano on board
to set up Mariano Rivera. That would
allow David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to focus on the seventh inning and
prior to really shorten up the games for the starters.
I really cringed when I heard that Bartolo Colon was
saying that several teams were interested in him, including the Yankees. That is definitely one signing that I do NOT
want to see!
Patience, patience, patience…I know, that’s what Brian
Cashman keeps saying. So, we’ll see what
the new year brings us!
Happy New Year to everyone! May 2011 be your best year yet! J
Last week, I had the good fortune to travel to New
York on business. I delayed my return
home until Sunday so that I’d have a day to spend in the city…
There were really only two things that I really
wanted to do. One was to attend the New
York City Marathon Expo that was being held at the Jacob Javits Center on
Saturday, November 6th. The
other was to have dinner in Greenwich Village.
So, with some thought the night before, I embarked
on my journey when Saturday arrived.
First, I started the day by running on the hotel treadmill. 8 miles on a treadmill can be a long, long
experience, but it gave me some time to think about what I wanted to do. After my run, I got ready and headed out the
The first destination was to find H&H Bagels on
46th Street and 12th Avenue. I’ve been to other H&H Bagels locations
but I had not found this one before.
H&H Bagels has been featured on several TV shows, like Sex in the
City and Seinfeld, but, seriously, their bagels are tremendous. They’ve always been very fresh and
delicious. I have even gone as far as to
order two dozen bagels from H&H for shipment to California.
For this day, I purchased a blueberry bagel and a
bottle of orange juice. I walked over to
a nearby bench in close proximity to the USS Intrepid and enjoyed the bounty
from H&H Bagels. It was well worth
Next, I walked down to the Jacob Javits Center for
the ING New York City Marathon Expo. I
am a runner and although I’ve only run one marathon (2008 NYC Marathon), I do
have the ambition to run more. I had
intended to run in the 2009 NYC Marathon but a stress fracture in my leg forced
a hiatus from running that cost me to withdraw from both the San Francisco and
New York Marathons. 2010 has been about
trying to get back into running and I decided that I’d avoid trying a marathon
this year, however, 2011 is a different story.
I’ve already registered for the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon which will be
held on March 20, 2011. Still, the NYC
Marathon was such an incredible experience, it is something that I do want to
LA has a good route for their marathon. It starts with a run around Dodger Stadium,
heads through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and makes it way to Santa Monica and
the Pacific Ocean. I love that area, so
it will be a fun experience. But nothing
compares to New York. The marathon
starts in Staten Island and eventually makes its way through all five boroughs
before finishing in Central Park. To run
for 26.2 miles with New York crowds cheering you on for every step of the way
is phenomenal. Coming off the Queensboro
Bridge into Manhattan was probably one of my favorite spots. Well, the finish line was a welcome sight
Well, back to the Expo. I wanted to experience the marathon through
the Expo and did find a good running t-shirt and a back pack. However, I found that I was so envious of the
runners who had their entry packets in hand.
I definitely was wishing that I had been able to run this year’s
marathon. I walked the Expo for several
hours and then bought a sandwich for lunch.
Next, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a
very long time. For all my trips to New
York, I’ve never gone to visit the grave of my idol, Lou Gehrig. Finally, I decided that today was the
day. So with just having the name of the
cemetery and name of the town, I hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station
and caught the Metro North Railroad Harlem Line to Valhalla, NY. From there, I walked a little under a mile to
the Kensico Cemetery. After walked the
cemetery and getting directions from other visitors, I found the grave. I was a bit surprised at how modest the
headstone was and for all I know about Lou, I didn’t know about the “typo” on
his headstone. The year of his birth is
erroneously shown as 1905 (he was born in 1903). But for as modest as the headstone was, the
location was so serene. I thought it was
the perfect place for burial and given its close proximity to Manhattan, I was
overtaken by the charm of the quaint, quiet town of Valhalla. Lou and Eleanor truly could not have picked a
better place to spend eternity. I sat at
the grave for awhile and just thought about the images of Lou that I’ve seen
and thought about what it must have been like to have watched him play
After leaving the cemetery, I had an hour to kill
before the train to Manhattan arrived.
By the train stop, there is a great restaurant/bar called The Valhalla
Crossing. It is inside an old train
station, and the ambiance of the establishment was first class, The service was probably one of the best I’ve
ever experienced. I could have stayed
there all night.
Heading back to Manhattan, there was just one more
thing on my to-do list. Dinner in
Greenwich Village. I took the train back
to Grand Central and then caught the Subway down to Greenwich Village. I did not have a particular restaurant in
mind (well, I had a couple but for this trip, I wanted to be open-minded). As I worked my way through Greenwich Village,
I stopped at my favorite coffee spot, the Porto Rico Importing Company at 201
Bleecker Street. It is the best way to
find coffee beans by the pound. When I
lived in Delaware, I would make a trip for no other reason than to go to Porto
Rico. Highly recommended.
As I continued my walk down Bleecker Street, I came
to Cornelia Street and remembered a Greenwich Village tour I had taken several
years ago. One of the stops was the
Cornelia Street Café. I remember
thinking at the time that it was someplace I’d like to have dinner. On this night, I thought my plan would be
rebuffed when the waiter asked me if I had reservations. Fortunately, there was a seat at the bar, so
I gladly accepted my option and had a great meal. It was fun listening to the couple next to me
talking about how their son would be running the New York City Marathon the
next day. It kind of brought the day
It was an incredibly enjoyable day in the city of
New York. The only thing better would
have been a 28th World Championship by the Yankees. Oh well, throw mega millions at Cliff Lee and
let’s crank up this machine for 2011!
By the way, I registered for the lottery for entry to the 2011 ING New York City Marathon! Wish me luck!
Joe Torre and slow starts are a thing of the past…
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
P.S. Hey Julia, how is the book assignment coming along?