Results tagged ‘ Oakland ’

The Perfect Formula, plus a Red Sox Loss!…


Yankees Win + Rays Loss = 1 Game Lead in AL
East!…


Yankees win.JPG

 

Finally, after 8 days, the Yankees were able to
shake the Rays for at least a day with a 9-2 win over the Oakland A’s in the
Bronx on Tuesday night.  The Rays started
strong against the pesky Toronto Blue Jays, but they saw a 3-1 lead erased when
the Jays scored 10 runs in the 6th inning to win going away,
13-5.  So, the Yankees are 82-50 while
the Rays are 81-51.  Meanwhile, the
Boston Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 so it was a very good night!



The New York Yankees beat the Oakland A's 9-3 at Yankee Stadium.

John Munson/The Star Ledger


 

I was toggling back and forth on MLB Radio between
the Yankees and Rays games and I think I missed about a dozen runs scoring
between both games.  I was very surprised
about the ineffectiveness of the Rays’ Jeff Niemann.  He has been roughed up in both games he’s
pitched since his return from the DL.  As
for the Yankees, it was painful with Phil Hughes on the mound, given his
inability to throw strikes.  Of 98
pitches, only 52 were strikes, resulting in 5 walks in 5 innings.  However, he was able to last long enough to
pick up his 16th win of the season. 



Phil Hughes

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 


The only surprise of tonight’s game was that Marcus
Thames didn’t homer.  He had homered in
his 5 previous consecutive games.  It
will be interesting to see what happens when Lance Berkman returns from the
DL.  I’d be surprised if the Yanks sat
Thames given his hot bat, but it would be sad to see a great player like
Berkman on the bench.  I am glad that I
don’t have to make Joe Girardi’s decisions.



Marcus Thames Yankees tight file

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 


It was great seeing Mark Teixeira back in the
lineup, especially after he hit his 30th home run of the
season. 



Teixeira, August 31

David Pokress/Newsday/MCT


The Yankees are close to returning to full strength
as Alex Rodriguez should be back on the field on Sunday.  Of course, with a 16-3 record, the Yankees
haven’t exactly missed A-Rod in the win column. 
Still, it will be nice to have Berkman, A-Rod, and Andy Pettitte back in
action as the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox head for the stretch run.



 


On a side note, I was disappointed the Los Angeles
Dodgers pulled back pitcher Ted Lilly after he was claimed on waivers by the
Yankees.  With the pitching struggles of
Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett, it would have been nice to have a security
blanket like Lilly around.  Plus, he know
New York and that’s hard experience to find.



 


Oh well, time to protect that one game lead…

 

–Scott

Fat and Happy in Oakland…

 

Geesh, do we really have to leave Oakland?…

 

 

 

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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?…

 

 


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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). 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getaway Game Blues…

 

All good things must come to an end…

 

 

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

 

 

Alex Rodriguez

Ray Chavez/Oakland Tribune/MCT

 

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

 

 

Javier Vazquez

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

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

 

 

Phil Hughes, Yankees

Cary Edmondson/US Presswire 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Sanchez/AP

 

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

 

 

Dallas Braden

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Sanchez/News

 

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

 

 

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Bob Rosato/SI

 

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

 

 

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

 

 


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Welcome to California!…

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Rays Red Sox Baseball

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

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

 

 

Yankees Athletics Baseball

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Saints D

Mark Humphrey/AP 

 

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

 

 

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

Getty Images

Lock and Load, Welcome to Fenway…

 

The showdown resumes…

 

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The Yankees begin a three game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night.   After losing the first 8 games of the season series to the Red Sox, the Yankees rebounded during the last four game set to sweep the series from the Red Sox.  So, here we are on August 20th, and the Yankees hold a 6 ½ game lead over the Red Sox.  At the All-Star Break, I said that the Yankees just needed to win four more games than the Red Sox.  They have done that and then some, but the key is to hold the lead.  This weekend’s series can go a long ways toward deciding the eventual 2009 AL East Champion.

 

 

 

For the latest series, I have once again made a wager bet with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  I so enjoyed finally emerging victorious during the last series, and I have to admit that Julia impressed me with her “payment” for the loss.  She wrote a fantastic Top 11 about positive Yankee statements, and her photos with the Yankees flag attached to her SUV were exactly as required under the terms and conditions of our bet.  For the latest series, we have decided to retain the Top 11 post (once again the credit goes to Jimmy Curran for the idea) but for the second part, we have opted to spending a day wearing the opposing team’s ballcap.  I do recognize that Julia is at a disadvantage since it would be more painful to wear a Yankees cap in Boston than it would be wearing a Red Sox cap in the San Francisco Bay Area.  So, I will toss in an extra.  If the Yankees lose the series, I will wear the pink Red Sox hat for a day following a day of wearing the traditional Red Sox cap.  Not that I intend to lose, but I recognize that Julia needs a handicap.  So, Julia, my friend, game on!

 

 

The latest road trip, so far, has been successful for the Yanks.  They took 3 of 4 from the Mariners in Seattle, and 2 of 3 from the A’s in Oakland.  I attended the second game in Oakland, and had a few observations.  I knew that CC Sabathia was a big guy, but seeing him close-up as he warmed up prior to the game, I’d have to say that the dude is absolutely huge.

 


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After seeing a few games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, it was somewhat of a disappointment to go to Oakland Coliseum.  My wife and I took BART up to the stadium, and my first thought was that the “drive up” appeal of the stadium was sorely lacking compared to AT&T Park.  As you approach the stadium, you quickly realize that you are in Raiders territory.  I hate to knock a stadium, but after a year that has seen my attendance at AT&T Park, the new Yankees Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I’d have to say that Oakland Coliseum is a major letdown.  I am optimistic that the A’s relocate to San Jose, so we’ll see.  They definitely need a new home.  Back to the game, I was disappointed when CC gave up a home run to catcher Kurt Suzuki after throwing a brushback pitch.  But the disappointment was short lived as the scoreboard announced that my section and row had won a free pizza from Roundtable Pizza as a result of the home run.  Hey, c’mon, it’s pizza!  The game remained tight until the sixth inning when the Yanks finally broke through with 5 runs, and eventually won 7-2.  The crowd was very pro-Yankees as the chants of “Let’s Go Yankees!” drowned out the cries of “Let’s Go Oakland!”. 

 

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There were many Derek Jeter jerseys in attendance.  I like DJ and I know that he’s headed for Cooperstown, but I’ve never fully understood the attraction that DJ has on fans.  Personally, I prefer watching the home run guys, like Mark Teixeira.  It’s not that I wouldn’t want Jeter on my team (I do), but I don’t see the power he has over women.  I heard one older woman Red Sox fan (not Julia, she’s not old!) once say, “I hate Derek Jeter, but he’s so cute”.  I don’t get it. 

 

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My wife took this photo with her cell phone and posted it on Facebook.  It was amazing how many people thought this was an actual photo from the stadium.  It does look kind of real though…

 

 

So, with Boston’s win over Toronto tonight, the Yankees arrive at Fenway Park with a 6 ½ game lead.  Regardless of what happens, they’ll leave Boston in first place.  But will the Red Sox be close enough that Julia can return to her “obnoxious” ways (j/k), or will the Yankees put further distance between them and the boys from Beantown.  This is ‘to be determined’ but I can assure you that I do not intend to wear a pink hat!

 

 

The San Diego Padres have apparently accepted cash from the Yankees for pitcher Chad Gaudin in lieu of the player to be named later.  Considering that the cost was only $100K, I suppose that meant GM Brian Cashman just had to reach into petty cash to settle the account.  Rumor has it that the Accounting Department doesn’t know how to write any checks with 6 figures or less.  LOL!

 

 

So, the St. Louis Cardinals are counting on John Smoltz to help them stave off the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central?  Yikes!  Good luck with that.  Then again, the Yankees are going with the two-headed monster of Mitre/Gaudin so I guess I have no room to talk…

 

 

Yes, it’s off topic but how can I resist making comment about new Vikings QB Brett Favre.  As you may (or may not) know, I am a die-hard Vikings fan.  I have been one all my life, and it has been a roller coaster ride.  I resigned as a Vikings fan when they made Bob Lee the starting QB following Sir Francis Tarkenton’s retirement.  But I came back around with Tommy Kramer.

 

  

The Dallas Cowboys were always my second favorite team, so I followed them in those in-between years.  But fast forward to present day, the QB position has always been very important to me.  I had been a big fan of Dante Culpepper’s and it was disappointing when his Vikings career ended because of the knee injury and a difference in philosophy with coach Brad Childress.  It has been frustrating to see ex-Vikings go elsewhere and thrive, like Rich Gannon  previously in Oakland, Shaun Hill in San Francisco or even Tyler Thigpen who started a few games for the Chiefs last season.  I was never a fan of Tavaris Jackson, and I was somewhat skeptical of Sage Rosenfels.  The only connection I have with Rosenfels is that we are both native Iowans, like Kurt Warner.  I like John David Booty, but I do wonder if he’ll ever achieve professional success.  So, I am begrudgingly warming up to the idea that Brett Favre is now the Vikings starting QB.

 

Tarvaris Jackson, Brett Favre

Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune 

 

The 2009 Vikings have the most talent of any Vikings team that I’ve seen since at least 1998.  All the pieces to the puzzle are in place for a great year…except QB, until now.  Perhaps Favre comes out and repeats his performance with the New York Jets last year (great start, but fizzle down the end), but conversely, there is a chance that he could replicate his final season with the Green Bay Packers.  So, based on that, I do feel that I have to give him a chance.  If anything, it has to be a great learning experience for Jackson, Rosenfels and Booty to be around Favre.  Granted, one of those guys will probably be holding a clipboard for a different team when the regular season starts, but there is value in Favre’s presence among the other QB’s.  Maybe Favre should have considered ‘Just For Men’ but then again, if memory serves correctly, Kenny Stabler had grey hair in defeating the Vikings in the 1977 Super Bowl.  Not one of my fondest memories…

Receiver Fred Biletnikoff, left, and quarterback Ken Stab... AP File 1977

 

Nevertheless, I’ll give #4 a chance.  I am not ready to mail in my fan membership.  But, hey, my expectations are only ‘Super Bowl or Bust’…

 

Hey Julia, we’re coming for you!  Get ready for that Yankees cap!  J

Maybe I Should Go Away More Often…

 

A great day for a birthday…

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Today is my birthday, and it couldn’t have had a happier ending than a Yankees win combined with a Red Sox loss.  All week, a certain blogger from Boston kept telling me that I couldn’t have a Red Sox loss for my birthday since she would be in attendance at Fenway Park.  Hey Julia, how did that work out for ya?  ;)

 

John Smoltz leaves the mound after...

AP

 

This is my first blog in a week so I don’t really plan to delve into breakdowns of the games that have been played since my last blog.  I recently took a job with a new company that allowed me to return home to Silicon Valley, California.  I had been in Wilmington, Delaware for the past year.  For the past week, I packed my belongings and drove across the country (3,000 miles in 3 ½ days).  Since the focus of the week was the move, I did not take my laptop with me and as a result, I have been silent on this blog for a week.

 

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In seven days while I’ve been gone, the Yankees lost only one game.   The Oakland A’s snapped the Yankees’ winning streak on Saturday, when Alfred Aceves failed to bail out Andy Pettitte.  It was the end of the Yankees eight game winning streak, as well as an eight game streak against the A’s dating back to 2008 (they had taken the first four games of the series this year).

 

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger 

 

Beating up the Tigers, Twins, and A’s has allowed the Yankees to extend their lead in the AL East to 2 ½ games over the Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees do have a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season, and it won’t get any easier with a 9-game road trip that begins in St. Petersburg, Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.  The Rays are currently in third place, 6 ½ games back.

 

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Jason Behnken/Tampa Bay Tribune 

 

I have been pleasantly surprised about the Yankees’ success so far in the second half of the season.  Admittedly, I was down after the Yankees had been swept by the Los Angeles Angels to close out the first half.  Prior to that series, the Yankees had tied Boston for the AL East lead.  While the Yanks were getting swept, Boston was doing their own sweeping so the first half closed with a three game Boston lead.  But as quickly as the Yanks went from a first place tie to three games back, they surged back to overtake Boston with only one loss since the All-Star Game.  I suspect that the lead will change hands a few more times before this is all said and done, but it is nice to see the Yankees reach 60 wins faster than any other AL team at this point in the season.

 

Christopher Pasatieri/US Presswire 

The news regarding Chien-Ming Wang has not been good.  He will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.  Wang had a second MRI last week, according to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, and it revealed a possible rotator cuff tear.  If it is not a scar from Wang’s prior surgery in 2000, and has rotator cuff surgery, he will be lost for most, if not all, of next season.

 

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

I do not think that Sergio Mitre is the answer in the rotation, and apparently neither do the Yankees.  According to Jenifer Logosch at MLB.com, the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Ian Snell pitch.  Snell struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season, going 2-8 in 15 starts, with 5.36 ERA.  He was demoted to AAA Indianapolis and has pitched lights out.  In four starts for Indy, Snell has pitched 26 1/3 innings with a 0.34 ERA and 34 strikeouts.  Snell apparently has no interest in rejoining the Pirates, and feels that he was made a scapegoat for their early season problems.  I am not sure if Snell is the answer or if his AAA success can equate to Major League success after past difficulties, but, for the right price, he is probably worth trying.  I’d rather go there before taking a chance with Kei Igawa.  I read that the Seattle Mariners wanted both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for Jarrod Washburn, so there’s no way that deal is happening unless the Mariners drop their asking price.  The Yankees won’t be contenders for either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, so they’ll continue to rummage through the bargain bins over the next couple of days as they continue to seek possible replacements for Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation.

 

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Speaking of Brett Gardner, he landed on the DL after suffering a fractured thumb in the first inning of Saturday’s game.  Of course, in that game, he had a run-scoring triple and played excellent defensively AFTER the thumb injury.  He is a huge loss for the team, but hopefully he’ll be out no more than three weeks or so.  I hope that Melky Cabrera maintains a high level of play during Gardner’s absence, and doesn’t lose any motivation or ambition without Gardner competing with him every day.  Hopefully, Gardner’s recovery will be as speedy as he is on the base paths…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP

 

Boston has a chance to make up ground on the Yankees during the upcoming 9-game road trip, but I have to admit that I am very shocked that John Smoltz is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA.  I liked Boston’s pick up of Adam LaRoche (well, not as a Yankees fan, but looking at the trade objectively and knowing what it means for the Red Sox).  Of course, with Theo Epstein, you know that the next few days will be very interesting as Boston continues to seek upgrades.

 

A look back at Theo Epstein's first season with the Red Sox -- 2003

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

I am sure that most people have become familiar with Batting Stance Guy but I wasn’t.  I saw him on David Letterman this week and he was hilarious (his impression of Kevin Youkilis is priceless).  You can check him out at www.battingstanceguy.com.  His posts can also be found on YouTube.  Here is his impression of the 2009 Yankees:

 

 

As much as I will miss the close proximity to Yankee Stadium, I am looking forward to my first visit to AT&T Park this year when I attend next Sunday’s match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.  After a year in Phillies country, I am excited about the opportunity to watch Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, J-Ro, and the other Phillies without being surrounded by those “calm and quiet” Philadelphia fans!  Seriously, there aren’t many things better than watching baseball near the Bay…

 

 

Have a great week!

–Scott

 

He’s The Man…

Finally!

The third baseman that I now refer to as the “Thin Toad”¹ was finally benched.  Ramiro Pena replaced Cody Ransom at third base when the Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

¹During a spring training game in the late 90′s, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner labeled pitcher Hideki Irabu as a ‘fat puss-filled toad’ when Irabu failed to cover first base on a routine ground ball.

Other lineup changes included a day off for left fielder Johnny Damon.  Damon has been enduring a personal issue involving his mother, and has been weakened both mentally and physically.  Also going to the bench is DH Hideki Matsui, who has struggled out of the gate with a .125 batting average.

 

Catcher Jorge Posada moved to DH, while catching duties were handled by Jose Molina.  Mark Teixeira was back in the lineup at first base, while Nick Swisher moved to left field.

The moves left Swisher batting clean-up.  Whoa!  An ace reliever one night, and Babe Ruth the next!…

Swisher responded with his fourth home run of the young season.

Reuters

Meanwhile, what can I say about Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett?  He’s the stopper.  He’s the ace.  He’s the man…

 

The Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2.  It had been a pitcher’s duel until Derek Jeter’s three-run homer blew the game open in the 9th.  But the night belonged to the Man…

THE ULTIMATE WORKOUT

I have continued to follow the career of Jason Giambi, and will be a big fan of his so long as the Oakland A’s aren’t playing the New York Yankees.  ESPN.com has profiled Giambi’s workout regiment, and it is a must-read for anyone looking to lose a few pounds!

If you are looking to fit into that bikini or swimsuit, you might want to try the G-Workout!  Well, maybe not.  Too funny!

 

Goodnight, All!

–Scott

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