Results tagged ‘ Xavier Nady ’

Winn, Lose, or Draw…

After a month of no news or action, the Randy Winn signing was a bit underwhelming…

 

 

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All off-season, Yankees fans everywhere have yearned for the return of fan favorite Johnny Damon.  Perfectly suited for left field in the new Yankee Stadium, it seemed, at least initially, as though the two sides would eventually come together.

 

 

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Yet, as we approach February, the link between Damon and the Yankees is irreparably damaged.  I don’t blame the player and I clearly find fault with the agent, Scott Boras.  If, at one point, the Yankees were willing to pay 2 years at $14 million when Damon wanted at least 2 years at $22 million, it would seem that there was room for compromise.  However, neither side actively pursued resolution and now the team has clearly moved on.

 

 

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It’s a sad situation and the Yankees will regret the move at some point this season.  Perhaps a couple of years down the road when Carl Crawford is patrolling left, it won’t get a passing thought.  But for now, we say goodbye to Damon…prematurely in my opinion.  I wish him the very best wherever he lands (even if it is in Toronto).  Thanks, Johnny, for the great memories in the Bronx!

 

 

Johnny Damon World Series Game 6 injury

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed former San Francisco Giants outfielder Randy Winn.  Winn is coming off a disappointing season but he’s been a reliable player in years past.  I am very disappointed with the move and I truly hope that Brett Gardner wins the job outright in spring training.  Perhaps another signing is imminent (Reed Johnson or Rocco Baldelli?) but most likely, the Yankees have made their final player move before heading to Tampa.

 

 

 

 

It was difficult to watch Xavier Nady sign with the Chicago Cubs.  I had really hoped that if the Yankees didn’t sign Damon, they’d pursue Nady.  Maybe he regresses in his attempt to come back from an injury-filled 2009 season, but I really think he’ll have a solid season and will be one of the free agent success stories.  It was an excellent move for Lou Piniella and the Cubs.

 

 

Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger

 

Sports-wise, this has been a tough week for me.  On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints.  The Vikings had their chances but it was not meant to be.  As Buster Olney put it, you expect to win as a Vikings fan but you are conditioned to lose.  I am not optimistic about next season if the starting QB is either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels so this was definitely the lost opportunity of a lifetime.  It was more painful than the loss in the 1998 NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons.

 

 

Brett Favre and the Vikings came up short in the NFC Championship with another heartbreaking loss.

Morry Gash/AP

 

So far, 2010 has not been a great year for my sports teams but there is still much time for a major turnaround.  Sorry Julia!  I do not intend to lose to you this year…in any sport!

 

 


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Are We Going to Be Left Out?…

The left field conundrum continues…

 

 


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Maybe GM Brian Cashman has the perfect solution already set in motion, but then again, maybe not.  I am not quite sure how you could spend $200 million on salaries and then suddenly become very frugal over $3 or $4 million as an insurance policy to protect your investment.  From the sounds of it, the Yankees are willing to go to camp with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann as a projected platoon in left.  I know that it’s a bluff, designed to await the lowered salary expectations of free agent options in January. 

 

 


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But if you have a left fielder who has proven that he can handle New York, thrive atop the Yankees’ batting order and carries the intangibles necessary to bring a championship to New York, why can’t you work out a deal for a few pennies more?  It just doesn’t make any sense.  I agree with the logic that the Yankees don’t need a superstar in left, but they need something better than a fourth outfielder looking for his fifteen minutes of fame. 

 

 

Reed Johnson #9 of the Chicago Cubs is hit by a pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies during the Opening Day game on April 13, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Reed Johnson

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

 

If the Yankees successfully cause Johnny Damon to sign elsewhere, and are left to be scrounging through the bargain bin, they’ll regret it in July when they attempt to make a trade for an upgrade at the high cost of key prospects.  Again, I’d rather pay more now and protect the farm system now and later. 

 

 

Charleston RiverDogs - Zach McAllister by John Setzler.

 

John M. Setzler, Jr.

 

 

I was disappointed to see the San Francisco Giants successfully sign one solid option in Mark DeRosa.  With DeRosa, the Giants get a very versatile player who will fit well into their lineup.  His ability to play third base allows them to slide Pablo Sandoval to first which fills a big need.   Had the Yankees been successful in luring DeRosa to the Bronx, he could have been the primary option for left field with the potential to back up Alex Rodriguez from time to time.  Isn’t that worth a few dollars more?   Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean…he scored one over his former team. 

 

 

Mark DeRosa grounds out in his first at-bat as a member of the Cardinals during the second inning.

Jeff Roberson/AP

 

 

If Johnny Damon is my first choice, Xavier Nady would be the remaining option in my eyes.  Another guy who has proven he can handle New York albeit not the injury bug.  If healthy, Nady would be a great fit for the Yankees.  Prior to his injury last season, he was slated to be the starter in right field. 

 

 

 

 

Cataffo/New York Daily News

 

Outside of the organization, there just isn’t much to be excited about on the free agent market.  I really don’t want a ‘past his prime’ player like Brian Giles or Garret Anderson.  I’d rather take a chance on a sleeper like Cleveland’s Shin Soo Choo or Atlanta’s Matt Diaz, although I doubt either team would be willing to let either player go cheaply.   In a blast from the past, the Angels’ Juan Rivera is another attractive option.  But I seriously doubt that Cashman would be able to pry any of these options from their respective teams. 

 

 

 

Los Angeles Times

 

 

Hopefully, the left field question is answered sooner rather than later.  The Yankees still need to replenish their bullpen options for 2010 after several key departures this off-season.  Plus, bench strength is another area that needs attention before the Yankees head for Tampa. 

 

 

Jeff Zelevansky

 

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Greater Boston Area, a Red Sox fan is gleefully enjoying the Yankees’ indecision and financial constraint…and listening to Toby Keith singing “Whiskey Girl”…

 

 

 

 

In a departure from baseball, I’d like to weigh in on the decision by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest his key starters like Peyton Manning in the second half.  Everyone knows that the result was a New York Jets’ 29-15 victory over the Colts to end their pursuit of perfection.  Of course, the company line is the decision was made to protect the health of their key performers and ensure going deeper into the play-offs with the Super Bowl as the key objective. 

 

 

 

I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but I am inclined to believe that Caldwell blew it.  He had a chance to do something that no team has done before (19-0, capped by a championship).  The 1972 Miami Dolphins were 17-0 since the regular season consisted of only 14 games.  Had they accomplished what the New England Patriots could not, the Colts would have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams ever.  Now, they’ll just be another Super Bowl champion if they happen to win it all.  Sure, a championship is great, but to be among legends is immortal.  The Colts missed a great opportunity…

 

 

AP 

 

 

All things considered, I am glad that University of Florida coach Urban Meyer made the decision to take a leave of absence rather than step down as the Gators coach.  College football needs guys like Meyer, but he needs time to repair his health.  If a year from now, Meyer decides that it’s time to hang it up, so be it.  But I’d rather see Florida go a year with an interim coach to make sure that Meyer makes a decision that he’ll never regret.  I am not a Gators fan, but Meyer has been great for college football and the Florida job is clearly one of the best.  It’ll be strange seeing new coaches patrolling the sidelines at both Florida and Florida State next season.

 

 

 

 

One final thought…if the Chicago Cubs can successfully trade Milton Bradley, why can’t the Yankees unload Kei Igawa?  I still think the guy could thrive in a low-pressure environment like San Diego or Pittsburgh…

 

 

 

 


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I hope everyone has a great new year!  I have enjoyed your friendship and support in 2009 and I look forward to be being a part of the great MLB Bloggers in 2010.  It’s a very talented and impressive group of writers, and the sum total of all makes MLB.com the best blogging environment on the internet!  Keep up the great work everyone!

 

 


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Out with Old, In with the New…

 

It has been a very busy week for the almighty¹ Yankees…

 


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¹Word ‘almighty’ is for the exclusive benefit of my friend Julia!  ;)

 

ARRIVED

Curtis Granderson

The blockbuster trade of the Winter Meetings saw the arrival of Curtis Granderson as the newest centerfielder for the New York Yankees. 

The price tag was very high and the Yankees lost a great opportunity to market “Ajax” but who knows if Austin Jackson will ever be the player that Grandy is today.  Maybe he’ll be better but it probably won’t happen for several years.  The Yankees have a window of opportunity right now and the heart of the team is not getting any younger.  It is critical for the Yanks to infuse young, quality talent into the lineup now, not later.  Grandy will be 29 on Opening Day and he can be expected to hold his position through the retirement of Derek Jeter and beyond.

I am looking forward to watching Grandy in the Bronx.  One of my personal favorites in the ‘Wow’ factor (off the field exploits aside) was Darryl Strawberry.  I am hopeful that Grandy will bring that level of excitement and energy to the team and that he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.

 

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Jamie Hoffmann

The former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was selected first in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft by the Washington Nationals and was immediately dealt to the Yankees as compensation for the trade that sent reliever Brian Bruney to the Nats.

Hoffmann, a former hockey player, will compete for the 25th spot on the Yankees roster.  Since Hoffmann will have to be offered back to the Dodgers if he fails to stick on the Yankees major league roster, I fully expect the Yankees to move either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner if Hoffmann shows anything during spring training.  You can make an argument for why the Yanks should keep either Cabrera or Gardner but Cabrera clearly has the highest trade value.

Hoffmann, 25, made his major league debut with the Dodgers on May 22nd.  Two days later, he got his first major league hit, a two-run bomb off Matt Palmer and the Angels in Anaheim.  Hopefully, it is a great sign of things to come…

 

Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp (27) congratulates teammate Jamie Hoffmann (30) on his two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, May 24, 2009, in Los Angeles.

 

AP

Andy Pettitte

Okay, it’s not really an arrival.  However, it is a big deal that Andy and the team agreed on a one year deal so quickly after Andy announced his decision to play at least another year.  We didn’t need another Brett Favre-like situation this off-season.  Welcome back, Andy!

 

Andy Pettitte Alex Rodriguez

AP

 

DEPARTURES

This could be called the ‘You’ll get your ring when we come to a city near you’ category…

Brian Bruney, to the Washington Nationals for the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Jamie Hoffmann).

Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Detroit’s Curtis Granderson.

 

Jerry Hale/MiLB.com

 

FREE AGENTS

Johnny Damon, unsigned.  Talks with the Yanks have continued but the team is unwilling to go beyond two years.  At this stage of his career, Damon has to get all he can get since this may be his last major league contract.  I want Damon back, however, I am supportive of the team’s position.

 

AP 

 

Hideki Matsui, unsigned.  Almost certain not to return unless the Yankees fail to sign Damon, Godzilla would be a good fit in the Bay Area if the Oakland A’s could unload Jack Cust.

 

 

Jose Molina, unsigned.  I am ready for Francisco Cervelli to back up Jorge Posada, with Jesus Montero possibly in the mix.  The Yankees do need to reduce their payroll and this is an area that they can still get value at a cheaper price.

Xavier Nady, unsigned.  Personally, I would try to bring the X-Man back to the Bronx.  But I recognize that he is not in the team’s plans, and it is virtually certain that he’ll sign elsewhere (perhaps with the Braves).

Jerry Hairston, Jr.  A good complimentary player but his role can be easily replaced by Ramiro Pena.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

OTHER MOVES

The Yankees are not expected to tender a contract to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang so he’ll become a free agent later today (midnight ET).  It’s unfortunate that it has come to this with the former 19-game winner.  He was perhaps the Yankees most valuable starting pitcher until that fateful day running the bases in Houston several years ago.  I suspect that he’ll be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year so some team is going to get lucky by taking a chance on Wang.  Hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to bring him back but for now, he’ll be up for grabs…

 

Al Messerschmidt/Getty

Former Yankee, and the Opening Day starting third baseman, Cody Ransom has been invited to camp with the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-roster player.

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As a California resident, this joke by Conan O’Brien bears repeating since it is oh, so true!

‘Los Angeles was hit by a massive storm that caused power outages and freeway closures.  Meteorologists predict that the storm will head east next week where it will be known as rain.’ 

…or something like that!  Nevertheless, it is an accurate description of life in California!

Too funny!

 

 

 

 

Playing Musical Chairs…

Ready, set, go!…

 

 


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It’s the start of free agency, and teams now have the right to negotiate with available free agents as teams’ exclusive rights period ended Thursday night.  Of course, there were no significant signings on Friday, but activity should pick up in the coming weeks. 

 

The big three for the Yankees are obviously Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui.  Regardless of what other moves the Yanks have in mind for their rotation, I feel very strongly they should bring back Andy assuming that he wants to come back for another season.  Had he not gone to Houston for three years, Andy would potentially be in position to challenge Whitey Ford for the Yankees record for most career wins (The Chairman of the Board holds the record with 236 wins, while Andy stands at 229 career wins with the Yankees and Astros).  Andy may never reach Ford’s Yankees record, however he still has the chance to reach the 200 win milestone wearing pinstripes, needing just 8 more wins.  I think Andy is very proud of his Yankees legacy, and I do expect to see him back in the Bronx next season.

 

 

Adrien Veczan/Reuters

 

 

I would like to see the team re-sign Johnny Damon.  The only thing about Damon that concerns me is his arm-strength in left field.  Otherwise, he is still playing the game like a young man despite his age (36).  He simply makes things happen and his double-steal in the World Series was classic but typical Damon-like.  The Yankees would be wise to allow Damon to return next year on a two year deal.

 

 

Elise Amendola/AP

 

 

As much as I like Hideki Matsui and how great his timely hits have been, I see this as the end of his career in the Bronx.  Since he’s limited to DH, he simply wouldn’t get enough at-bats in the coming seasons with the need to increase the DH rotation to include older players like Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (to allow them more rest from playing the field).

 

 

Stubblebine/Reuters 

 

I am sad to see Xavier Nady go, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest on the Yankees’ part to bring him back.  Some team is going to get a high quality guy and if healthy, a productive player.  Of course, that means he’ll probably be signing with Boston any day now…  :(

 

 

 

 

 

The rumor mill regarding Roy Halladay is gaining steam once again.  A free agent after next season, it is very likely that the Toronto Blue Jays will move Doc this off-season rather than wait until the trading deadline.  The list of teams not interested in Doc is probably shorter than the list of team who are.  The Blue Jays will be able to get a King’s ransom for Halladay and it should set them up for a bright future.  Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox are always rumored to be in the mix, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Assuming that Frank McCourt isn’t too distracted or financially drained by his divorce proceedings with wife Jamie, the Dodgers need a frontline ace to compete against the Philadelphia Phillies for supremacy in the National League.  The Dodgers have a window of opportunity so they should certainly make every attempt to secure the final pieces of the puzzle in what could be Joe Torre’s last hurrah.

 

 

 

Dunn/Getty Images

 

 

Wow, with 15 wins, Tim Lincecum captured the NL Cy Young Award for the second consecutive year?  I am not trying to take anything away from Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA), but I was surprised.  I know and understand that win total is the one statistic that a pitcher has the least amount of control over, however, I thought that Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals was the deserving choice (he led the NL with 19 wins).  His ERA was slightly higher than Lincecum’s at 2.63, but it was still very good.  You could also argue that Chris Carpenter should have won, as he had a remarkable season (17-4, 2.24 ERA despite missing time with a pulled muscle in his side).  Wainright, 19-8, captured the most first place votes, but finished third behind Lincecum and Carpenter.  I can’t help but think that if Wainright had pitched for the Mets or the Dodgers, he would have won the award.  Even the local Bay Area press was surprised by Lincecum’s win.  I was listening to San Francisco sports talk radio on Friday, and all they could talk about was how long Lincecum’s hair was going to be by Opening Day next season.  Lincecum lead the league in strikeouts with 261, and was second in ERA and third in innings pitched.  If you ask Lincecum which stat is most important, it’s WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  Timmy finished fourth with a WHIP of 1.047 (behind Dan Haren, Carpenter, and Javier Vazquez).  I am not saying that Lincecum was a bad choice…it was simply unexpected, in my mind.

 

 

Seattle Times

 

 

Hey Julia, I enjoyed reading the Boston Globe this morning…”Out of Synch:  Magic’s Act Again Surprises Celtics”.  Very nice!

 

 

Happy Orlando Magic beat the Celtics in playoff rematch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Sentinel

 

I am going to see a show by comedian Lisa Lampanelli tonight.  I don’t know anything about her except that she is the so-called “Queen of Mean”.  I found this review of Lisa’s show by Larry the Cable Guy:  “Front row tickets to Lisa’s show are $100, and obstructed view tickets are $150″.  I’ve heard she is very raunchy so I might want to get those obstructed view tickets!  ;)

 

 

 

A Trip Down the Canyon of Heroes…

 

I wish we could do this more often…

 

Josh Haner/The New York Times

 

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

 

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AP

 

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

 

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Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger

 

Yankee Fans Celebrate Their 2009 World Series Champions

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

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

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post 

 

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

 

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

Antonelli/NY Daily News 

 

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

 

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

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

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

 

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

Sipkin/NY Daily News 

 

A few memories from yesterday’s parade…

 

Hideki Matsui at parade 11-06-09

Jennifer Brown/The Star Ledger

 

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Reuters

 

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Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

 

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Kevin P. Coughlin

 

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Getty Images

 

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Victoria Will/New York Post

 

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Paul Martinka

Congratulations to the 2009 World Champions…

 

New York Yankees!

 

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

 

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

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

 

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

 

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

 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

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

 

 

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

 

Kim Klement/US Presswire

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

Associated Press

A Little A-Rod Goes A Long Ways…

 

A “Half Day Off” works…

 

Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger

 

With the installation of Alex Rodriguez at DH last night, Joe Girardi coined the term “half day off” when describing A-Rod’s temporary switch from third.  The result?  Very good, as evidenced by the towering two-run homer to dead center in the 6th to cap the scoring in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The homer came after Ken Griffey, Jr. had tied the score at 2 in the top half of the inning with his 621st career home run.  Griffey has now hit home runs in 44 stadiums, and trails only Sammy Sosa (by one stadium).

 

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

A-Rod’s home run was the 566th of his career, and he trails Rafael Palmeiro by 3 for 10th place on the All-Time HR List.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau (per The New York Times), the last time a game featured home runs by two players with at least 550 career home runs was May 8, 1971.  On that date, the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Francisco Giants, 5-2, at Candlestick Park.  The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, hit one out in the 6th to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.  Hank Aaron responded with a three-run shot in the 8th as the Braves scored 5 runs to take the game.

 

Hank Aaron and Willie Mays dominated their eras. (Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery / Getty Images)

Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images 

 

A-Rod has been re-energized since the forced days off last weekend.  In his last 7 games, he is batting .435 (10-for-23), with 4 HR’s, 13 RBI’s, and 10 walks.  It is a huge contrast to the lethargic A-Rod we had seen in the weeks prior to the time off. 

“There’s no question I feel more energetic,” A-Rod said. “The swing only comes if you feel you have fuel in the tank.”

 

To the delight of Yankee Stadium fans, Alex Rodriguez rounds third after his two-run, six-inning broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the difference in the Yanks' 4-2 win over the Mariners on Wednesday. (JIM McISSAC / Getty Images)

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Andy Pettitte, who struggled in earlier home starts at the new Stadium, was very effective, and picked up his 8th win of the season.  With Andy, you are never quite sure what you are going to get, but he managed to overcome the loss of two leads and persevered to get the win.  It seems as though he has finally learned how to pitch in the new Stadium.  His numbers at home had been significantly worse than his road stats.  He recognizes that the hits and homers will happen, but his job is to limit the damage and keep his team in the game.  It’s a skill that Andy is very good at…

 

Antonelli/NY Daily News

 

Johnny Damon had started the scoring with a home run of his own during the 3rd inning.

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Melky Cabrera also added a solo shot in the 5th, which stood upon completion of a video replay by the officials. 

 

Barton Silverman/The New York Times  

The Yankees have now won seven games in a row, and remain 2 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox.  While the Yanks didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they did pick up a game on the hard charging Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays’ seven-game winning streak was snapped in a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press 

In a down note, it has been determined, as expected, that Xavier Nady does need reconstructive elbow surgery.  Everyone is saying positive words of encouragement, but it will be a long, uphill battle for Nady.  This will be Nady’s second Tommy John surgery.  It will be performed next Wednesday, and the recovery time is generally 10-12 months.  Our hearts go out to Nady.  He’s been the consummate team guy and I hope he’ll be playing on the ball field again soon.

 

 

Tony Gutierrez/AP 

Enter the Sandman…

 

Exit light, enter night, take my hand, off to never never land…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

When the words of the famed Metallica song, “Enter Sandman”, reverberate throughout Yankee Stadium, it means only one thing.  It’s the entrance of Mariano Rivera for yet another save opportunity.  On Sunday night, against the New York Mets, Mo reached a milestone with his 500th career save.  He became only the second man to reach 500 saves, behind leader Trevor Hoffman.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

Mo also picked up his first career RBI on a bases-loaded walk from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, bringing home Melky Cabrera for an insurance run in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Mets.  The Yankees swept the weekend series against the Mets, and won the season series, taking 5 of 6 games.

 

Jason Szenes/The New York Times

 

At the end of the game, there were no fist pumps, no wild displays of emotion.  Mo, in his usual business-like approach, calmly watched Robinson Cano fire Alex Cora’s ground out to Mark Teixeira to end the game.  Tex handed Mo the game ball and gave him a big hug.  The rest of the team came and did the same.  It was a very touching scene, and I have to admit that I got chills watching the moment.  I have said it will be a very difficult day when Mo decides to hang up his glove, but I am very appreciative for moments like this as we move toward the sunset of an absolutely fantastic career.

 

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, left, looks on as second baseman Robinson Cano embraces closer Mariano Rivera after Rivera closed out his 500th career save in the Yankees 4-2 victory over the Mets at Citi Field last night. Kathy Willens/The Associated Press

Kathy Willens/AP

 

As usual, Mo is quicker to credit his teammates than he is to take praise alone. 

“But don’t get me wrong, this is definitely special, being the second guy who does that in the history of baseball; it’s kind of special, but I’m a team player. My team fought hard today to give me that opportunity to be there. I tried to do my job. Really, all the 500 saves belong to my teammates.”

“I’m proud of what I have done with the team. I’m proud of my teammates. I’m proud of everything we have accomplished. Every time I have the chance to wear this uniform, I’m proud.”

Mo, we’re even prouder of you…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Congrats on #500…and #1! 


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The game started with a double by Derek Jeter.  Nick Swisher followed with a fielder’s choice to first, but first baseman David Murphy opted to throw to third to stop an advancing Jeter.  But a double pump caused too much of a delay so Murphy’s throw third arrived late, and it allowed Swisher to reach first uncontested.  Mark Teixeira promptly hit a double to score both Jeter and Swisher.  Tex advanced to third on a fielder’s choice hit by Robinson Cano, and scored on a sac fly by Jorge Posada.  Quickly, the Yankees had raced to a 3-0 lead and those were all the runs they would need.

 

Yankees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Post

 

Chien-Ming Wang was unable to match the pitching performances of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the first two games of the series, but it was still enough to pick up his first win of the year, and his first in 379 days.  The Mets did mount a mini-rally in the 4th on a run-scoring double by Fernando Martinez and a RBI single by Luis Castillo.  But pitcher Livan Hernandez grounded out to end the threat. 

For the game, Wang went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs.  He walked three batters and struck out three. His ERA remains in double-digits (10.06), but another quality start will bring it down to single digits after the horrendous start to the season.

 

Keivom/NY Daily News 

 

Phil Hughes continued his successful transition to the bullpen.  In his last five outings, he’s pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings.  That’s a far cry of the early season disasters involving Jose Veras and Damaso Marte.  Hughes has played a huge role in re-shaping the bullpen into a quality unit.  Granted, it still doesn’t match the stellar Red Sox bullpen, but at least it’s improving.

I realize that the Subway Series would have had a different look had Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado et al been healthy.  But wins are wins, and I’ll take them.  My friend Julia seems to enjoy “distance” but we are quietly gaining ground on her beloved Red Sox.  Hey Julia, I’ll use one you used on me once upon a time…even if the deficit is 3 ½ games heading into Tuesday’s action…

 

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Other News…

Xavier Nady definitely facing an uphill battle in his attempt to come back from his right elbow injury.  He previously underwent Tommy John surgery in 2001, so another surgery will be the second of its kind.  I read that the success rate for a second surgery is only about 20%.  Nady will miss the rest of 2009 and most likely all of 2010 (typical recovery time is 12-14 months).  However, it is possible that he may never return and that would truly be unfortunate.

 

Kim Klement/US Presswire 

 

Speaking of injuries, I want to put the rivalry with the Red Sox aside and wish Mike Lowell the very best.  He had fluid drained from his ailing right hip and received an injection to relieve inflammation in the joint.  It will take a few days to determine if Lowell will be able to play now or if he’ll need to be placed on the DL for a return later this summer.  I truly hope that the best case scenario works out for Mike, and that he is back on the field sooner rather than later.  I want to beat Boston, but I want to beat Boston with their best on the field.  Mike is a huge part of why the Red Sox have been so successful, and I hope he has a speedy recovery.

 

 

 

Finally, today was the funeral for Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas (of Aplington-Parkersburg).  A 24-year old former player has been charged with the murder of Thomas, who coached the likes of Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries, and Casey Wiegmann during his 37-year coaching career.  Thomas was the NFL’s High School Coach of the Year in 2005, and won two state titles.  I grew up playing Iowa high school football, and it is shocking that something like this could happen in the Hawkeye State.  My high school coach, Pearl Smith, never won a state championship (not for the lack of trying, I can assure you), but he was a winner in my eyes.  It’s been many years since I’ve seen him, but he had a huge impact on my life and the lessons he taught stick with me to this day.  So, I am deeply saddened to see the loss of Ed Thomas and what it means to everyone whose life he touched during his long and very successful coaching career.

–Scott

Clean Sweep by the AL East…

 

Feelin’ way too damn good…

 


 
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It may be the name of a great song by Nickelback, but it also describes the feeling watching last night’s 9-1 rain-delayed win over the New York Mets by the Yankees.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Any concerns about the tendonitis in CC Sabathia’s biceps were put to rest early.  Perfect through four innings, Sabathia showed why he deserved the ridiculously excessive contract in the off-season.  Outside of the leadoff home run to former Yank Gary Sheffield to open the fifth inning, he shut down the Mets on 3 hits over seven innings with 8 strikeouts.  He was consistently throwing 95 mph, and did not walk any batters.  He even contributed to his own cause with a RBI single in the second inning.  With the win, CC improved to 7-4.  Brett Tomko pitched effectively for the final two innings in relief.

 

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Speaking of the second inning, it was a very ugly one for the Mets.  Three errors allowed the Yankees jump out to a 4-0 lead and with CC dealing, the game was essentially over.

 

Simmons/New York Daily News 

 

Admittedly, I do not follow the Mets and if I had a preference in the NL East, it would probably be the Philadelphia Phillies.  So, I haven’t been keeping up with the Mets this year.  Derek Jeter had a bad cough, and was given the night off (which was also his 35th birthday).  I was a bit concerned with the insertion of Ramiro Pena into the starting lineup, particularly considering that Francisco Cervelli was playing in place of Jorge Posada (worried about the loss of potential offense).  But then I browsed the Mets’ order and was surprised to see names like Alex Cora, Nick Evans (who?), Omir Santos, and Ryan Church playing center field.  I knew that the Mets had been hurt by injuries, but I didn’t realize the decimation was this bad.

 

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Alex Rodriguez homered again to officially signal that the slump is over.  Kate Hudson was even in attendance, but fortunately she wasn’t wearing a pink A-Rod shirt like certain other celebrity girlfriends…

 

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The home run by A-Rod, in the 8th inning, was the 564th of his career, which allowed him to pass Reginald Martinez Jackson.  Reggie was in attendance to watch as he fell to 12th place on the All-Time HR List.  Next up for A-Rod is Rafael Palmeiro in tenth place with 569 HR’s.  I know that A-Rod is an admitted PED user, but it will still be nice to see Palmeiro bounced out of the top 10.  A-Rod should also pass Harmon Killebrew at 573 home runs later this summer.  Mark McGwire’s 583 will be more difficult to reach this year, particularly with A-Rod’s limited mobility.

Team PED All-Stars…

Reuters 

 

Brett Gardner has re-surfaced as a force in center.  He is batting .387 over the past 27 games.  Batting lead-off in place of Jeter, he had 5 hits, with 3 runs scored.  He was a double short of hitting for the cycle, but raised his batting average to .303 with the great performance.  When Gardner is hitting, he’s scary with his speed.  He is making it very difficult for Joe Girardi to keep him out of the lineup. 

 

 

Melky Cabrera will benefit from Xavier Nady’s misfortune (lost for the season), and will continue to platoon with Nick Swisher in right (barring any deadline trades by the Yankees). 

The world looks so much better when the Yankees are winning.  Right, Julia? ;)

 

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Despite the win by the Yanks, there was no change in the AL East standings.  It was a rare night that saw the AL East sweep the NL East, 5 games to none.

Yankees 9, Mets 1

Red Sox 4, Braves 1

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 1

Rays 7, Marlins 3

Orioles 11, Nationals 1

 

Of course, I am wondering why the Rays’ pitching staff was so inept compared to the others.  LOL!  It was definitely a good night for the AL East, which is why I am truly feelin’ so damn good!  And, oh yeah, I am going home to California!  Woohoo!

 

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Other News…

Speaking of Xavier Nady, he’s told friends that he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will need surgery.  He’s headed to California (like me!) for further medical evaluation, but he’s done for the year.  Given that he is a free agent at the end of the year, his time with the Yankees may be over. Personally, I hope not.  I’d like to see the team work out a new deal.  However, given that there is doubt Nady will be able to play in 2010, the chances of returning to the Yankees are probably not good.  Nady has been a good player and I hope we have not seen the last of him in pinstripes.

 

Chris Faytock/The Star Ledger

 

Per Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, Mariano Rivera will be on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation.  Mo was asked about performance enhancing drugs, and he replied, “The reason why I’m laughing is because I don’t even drink coffee. And if I don’t drink coffee, I would never put in my mind or think to put that in my body. If the talent that God has given me is not enough, well, I’ll have to quit. When I leave this game I know deep in my mind, deep in my heart that I was clean.”

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

I remember being somewhat disappointed when John Wetteland left, breaking up the deadly late inning combo of Rivera-Wetteland.  Little did I know that it was the dawn of greatness, the creation of a new Yankees legend.  It will be a sad day when #42 is no longer in the bullpen, but it won’t take very long for it to make its way to Monument Park…and Cooperstown.  Mo can stand next to Jackie Robinson and be proud.

 

AP

 

No updates on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, but I am taking much abuse from my friends…

 


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–Scott 

Finally, a Series Win! On to Queens!…

 

Derek Lowe versus Andy Pettitte…

 

 

It was a match-up that reminded me of some great Red Sox battles of the past.  Unfortunately, this one was not memorable as neither pitcher was around very long.  The Yankees had built an 8-1 lead by the 4th inning against Lowe.  It should have been an easy win for Andy Pettitte, but he struggled too.  In the bottom of the 4th inning, he gave up 5 runs, thanks in part to an error by center fielder Brett Gardner, and was lifted for Alfredo Aceves.  Aceves was the eventual winner in the 11-7 Yankees victory over the Atlanta Braves.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

I am concerned about Pettitte.  He pitched great during his last start, but otherwise, his starts have been very spotty.  He is definitely no longer the pitcher he once was, or at least I do not recall him being so consistently “hittable”. 

But the one player we do not need to be concerned about is Alex Rodriguez.  After a month long slump that saw his batting average slide to .207, A-Rod was back last night.  He had a key hit on Wednesday, and followed that up with his 563rd home run (tying Mr. October, Reggie Jackson on the all-time list).  He was 3-for-5, with two runs scored, a walk, and 4 RBI’s (pushing his BA to .223).

 

John Bazemore,AP

 

The key hit for this game, in my opinion, was delivered by Johnny Damon.  With the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd inning, Damon came to bat against his former Red Sox teammate and delivered a triple to clear the bases.  The hit increased the Yankees’ lead to 6-1 at the time.  Even though the Braves scratched and clawed to get back in the game, they could never recover from the huge hole created by Damon.

 

Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald 

 

The bullpen did a good job with Aceves, Phil Coke, and the great Mariano Rivera.  The only questionable performance was by David Robertson who gave up a 9th inning home run to Brian McCann, and had runners at the corners, before Mo came in to get the final out.  Robertson did have two strikeouts in the frame.  Hopefully, he was just upset by the Mets’ recent release of his brother Connor, and he’ll perform the next time he is placed in a key situation.

 

 

The Yankees now head to Queens for a weekend Subway Series against the Mets.  I am concerned about the health of CC Sabathia, but it appears that he is a ‘go’ and should be fine this evening.  A.J. Burnett will return from his suspension tomorrow so it should be a fun weekend in Flushing Meadow.  With A-Rod coming around, I am sure that the biggest beneficiary will be Mark Teixeira.  The team responded to Brian Cashman’s call to arms, and hopefully that will continue. The Toronto Blue Jays lost last night, so the Yankees once again have sole possession of 2nd place and are now 4 games behind Boston.  Meanwhile, those pesky Rays keep winning…

 

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Chris Urso/Tampa Tribune

 

Happy 35th Birthday to the Captain, Derek Jeter!

 

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Xavier Nady had a major setback during his minor league rehab with Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Brian Cashman is calling it a possible worst case scenario as Nady felt pain while throwing.  Not a good sign.  At some point,  you have to wonder if surgery is the only option.  Best wishes to the X-Man for a “best case” scenario outcome…

 

Charles Krupa/AP

 

Finally, Thursday was a very sad day in the Entertainment World with the loss of two icons… Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

 


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Say what you will about MJ in recent years, but he was truly the King of Pop during the early 80′s.  His music was everywhere, and I can still so vividly remember waiting to watch the MTV world premiere of the video for Thriller in late 1983.  Like Elvis, Michael has left us way too soon. 

Farrah’s passing was more expected but no less difficult.  I had the Farrah poster on my wall as a teenager (like every other guy my age). 

Goodbye to both…they will be missed…

We Lost…Or Did We?…

 

The Yankees lost…again…

 

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Derek, you had the chance to be the hero, and to show the city of Miami why you are so beloved in New York City.  But, unfortunately, and unlike the shortstop in Boston, you failed to deliver the key hit with that grounder in the 9th inning and two outs against the Florida Marlins.  Alas, the Yankees’ comeback was stalled at 2 runs and the Yanks lost the game, 6-5.  For a moment, I thought that I was going to get a special Father’s Day treat but it was not meant to be.

 

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Somewhere in Boston, I can assure you that there’s a woman who couldn’t be happier…

 

 

Not so quick, Julia!  There is an outside chance that Derek Jeter may get a second chance.  After Alejando de Aza hit for Renyel Pinto in the 7th inning, Marlins manager Freddie Gonzalez did a double-switch and inserted relief pitcher Leo Nunez into left fielder Chris Coghlan’s lead off spot.  In the 8th, Coghlan took the field with Nunez going to the mound.  So, technically, two players listed as first in the batting order were on the field at the same time.  De Aza should have been in left instead of Coghlan.  After Nunez threw one pitch, a strike, to Derek Jeter, manager Joe Girardi protested.  Coghlan left the game, but De Aza couldn’t return because of the no re-entry rule.  Jeremy Hermedia took over left, and was placed 9th in the batting order.  Nunez was allowed to continue pitching.  Girardi felt that Nunez should have been disallowed to continue, but Gonzalez disagreed.  Nevertheless, Girardi filed a protest.  If upheld, the teams would have to resume the 8th inning with the Marlins ahead, 6-3.  I doubt anything comes out of the protest, but, hey, you never know.  Jeter might get the chance to be a hero in Miami after all…

 

Joe Girardi 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

Right fielder Xavier Nady is getting closer!  He will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Wednesday.  Soon…very soon, the X-Man returns!

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger 

 

Despite being pulled after 1 1/3 innings on Sunday for left biceps tendonitis, CC Sabathia believes that he’ll be able to make his next start.  Time will tell, but hopefully he’s right.  Now that Phil Hughes is starting to establish himself as a presence in the bullpen, I’d hate to see him yanked (no pun intended) back and forth between the pen and the starting rotation.

 

Courtesy Yankees Online Magazine 

 

A.J. Burnett’s suspension was decreased by one game to 5 games by Major League Baseball (for throwing near the head of the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz).  He began serving the suspension on Sunday, so he’ll be able to start next Saturday.  With Sabathia’s uncertainty, Burnett’s return is critical.

 

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images 

 

Alex Rodriguez feels better after some rest.  That’s nice…

 

 

A two game losing streak, and the next game will feature Chien-Ming Wang on the mound?  Yikes!  Hopefully, the law of averages will kick in sooner rather than later and allow Wang to record his first win of the year.  Of course, he’ll be facing the Braves pitching phenom Tommy Hanson.  They might be a bit agitated after the walk-off homer by Boston’s Nick Green on Sunday…

 

That's a wrap

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

More off-topic stuff…

It is really starting to sound like Brett Favre will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings this year.  One website reported that he had already agreed to a contract, but that was quickly dismissed as a false rumor.  Plus, there are rules that require prompt reporting of player contracts to the league so the Vikings would potentially be in violation of league rules if they failed to disclose a formal contract in a timely manner.  Nevertheless, there is speculation that a post-dated contract for, say, July 3rd, is a possibility.  Much of the media will be off on Friday, July 3rd for the holiday weekend, so the news wouldn’t be as magnified as it would be on a normal work day.  By the following Monday, much of the hoopla would start to die down.  So, the timing seems right.  It would also allow some time of the news to settle before training camp begins at the end of July.  I am hopeful that this doesn’t mean the loss of a roster spot for John David Booty, who has looked so much better this year.  I would prefer to see Tavaris Jackson shipped elsewhere, but he was hand-picked by Head Coach Brad Childress, so it may be tough for Childress to let go of T-Jack.

 

Courtesy The Fan 740 AM

 

I have never heard of today’s winner of the U.S Open in Golf, Lucas Glover, but he’s a Yankees fan, so I’ll say CONGRATS to an absolutely great guy!  ;)

 

Lucas Glover watches his tee shot on hole No. 11. Glover held off Ricky Barnes, David Duvall and Phil Mickelson to win the US Open on Monday.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

–Scott

 

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