It was another Saturday night, I didn’t have nobody. I had some money, because I had just gotten paid. How I wished I had something to do – and then I went on Twitter and saw that David Wright of the New York Mets had crushed a grand slam homer for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, putting them ahead 6-2 in front of Team Italy.
I flipped on the game.
OK. So the guy from the other New York team hit a bomb. To me, the World Baseball Classic was still meaningless; a pointless, glorified exhibition which simply takes players away from Spring Training, the players competing for seemingly nothing. Japan won the two previous WBCs (2006, ’09), and my philosophy remained,
“The World Baseball Classic is a joke. Spoiler alert: Japan will win it again, its players will come to the USA/MLB…and suck for their entire careers.”
Daisuke Matsuzaka is my case in point.
But as I continued to watch Teams USA’s game vs. Team Italy, my feelings slowly changed. By the end of the night, I was actually interested in the WBC, a position I never imagined I’d be in when the tournament commenced. A couple of storylines have put me over the top.
First off, Robinson Cano has been an absolute beast in the WBC, playing for his homeland, the Dominican Republic. The studly second baseman was named MVP of Pool C, cracking four extra base hits (including an opposite-field home run), five RBIs, while batting .600 over the first three games.
The DR went on to advance in the WBC; Cano ready to lead his squad against Wright and Team USA tonight, in fact.
Given the concerns and recent, unexpected injuries the Yankees have suffered (Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson) it’s overly encouraging to see Cano slaughtering the ball the way he’s been in the WBC. Come April 1, if Cano keeps it up, there won’t be much to worry about when he steps into the batter’s box.
There was also a second piece of WBC business that piqued my interest. Italy had a familiar reliever on its roster: my paison, Brian Sweeney. I only say “had” because last night Team Italia was ousted by Puerto Rico, a come-from-behind effort by way of sloppy Italian defense leading to the Azzuri’s downfall.
I was pleasantly surprised – and in a big way, proud – to see my fellow Mercy College alumnus on the hill in front of a worldwide audience and a packed house at the new Miami Marlins ballpark. As most readers of the blog know, I interviewed Sweeney in July, 2010, weeks after he faced the Yankees in the Bronx.
He went on to make several appearances vs. the Bombers over that summer, and got the likes of Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and Brett Gardner out. Using his signature changeup which he learned pitching for Mercy, some of the most powerful Yankees didn’t stand a chance against Sweeney.
And during the WBC, Sweeney added some more names to his list of big outs.
In Wright’s first at-bat following his trip to granny’s, Sweeney got the Mets’ third baseman to pop out. He followed suit by walking the Marlins’ own Giancarlo Stanton, Sweeney’s changeup painting the black; barely missing the outside corner for a walk culminating a 13-pitch at-bat. He went on to get catcher Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins) to fly out to left field and first baseman Eric Hosmer (KC Royals) to foul out behind third.
Not a bad night at the office for a Mercy College grad.
Team Italy had two more losing efforts vs. Cano’s Dominicans and Team Puerto Rico – both narrow losses; one-run games. Over the course of those two games, Sweeney struck out Alejandro De Aza (Chicago White Sox) swinging, and got both got Jose Reyes (Toronto Blue Jays) and Hanley Ramirez (LA Dodgers) to fly out.
Unfortunately Sweeney was on the hook for the loss in last night’s elimination game to Puerto Rico, although the decision was more reflective of shoddy defense: particularly on the left side of the infield’s behalf. Italy’s shortstop Anthony Granato was eaten alive on a number of ground balls, and third baseman Alex Liddi didn’t curb the problems, missing an easy out by coming off the bag at third on a force play.
Yet Sweeney’s participation in the WBC wasn’t what made me entirely proud. After the loss, the 38-year-old journeyman right-hander stood on the top step of the dugout and tipped his cap to the fans and to Team Puerto Rico – a class act, all the way through. Despite the ousting, he showed great sportsmanship and a graceful attitude.
That’s a Mercy College guy for you.
My hope now is that he catches on with a team this spring. Hopefully for him, it’s the Seattle Mariners, seeing as how he told me in the interview he always wanted to pay dividends for them. They gave him a chance in the show; I suppose he feels he owes them.
As for the rest of the WBC, my interest has been sparked. Next time there’s a night within the next couple of weeks before Opening Day and I don’t have nobody – regardless of whether or not I just got paid, I’ll have something to do: watch the WBC.
The Yankees are known as New York’s number one baseball team. The Bronx has seen 27 World Series titles and has a history of winning. Year after year the Yankees are in the hunt for the playoffs and they always have a shot at winning it all.
But on the other side of the city in Flushing, Queens, the Mets have not had an easy run these past few years. The last time the Mets won a Championship was 1986 and the last time they even came close to a World Championship was 2006. The so-called “Amazin’ Team” made it to the National League Championship Series and pushed the St. Louis Cardinals to a decisive Game Seven.
The Mets played their hearts out in that NLCS. That was evidenced by an incredible catch made by Endy Chavez in the final game. In the top of the sixth, Chavez tracked a fly ball (hit by Scott Rolen) to the left field wall at Shea Stadium. He leaped up, stuck his glove out over the wall, and brought the ball back into the park for an out.
He turned a two-run homer into a spectacular double play.
Tied 1-1 going into the ninth inning, the Cards took the lead. Yadier Molina swung his bat and delivered a tie-breaking two-run home run to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead. The Mets threatened in the bottom of the frame, World Series in sight.
What could have been the Mets’ dream season ended with Carlos Beltran staring blankly at a disgusting breaking ball thrown by Adam Wainwright.
Strike three called. Beltran out. NLCS over. Cardinals win.
From that called strike three and basically losing the pennant by one pitch, it seemed the Mets never recovered – despite a number of attempts to better themselves. The team from Flushing has gone in a downward spiral; a torturous period of bad luck and misfortune. It just seems as if black cloud has followed the team around since Chavez’s catch.
Following the sad ending in the ’06 NLCS, the Mets went out and got the best pitcher on the trading block. Then-General Manager Omar Minaya made an offer to the Minnesota Twins and the Mets gave up some prospects for ace and two-time American League Cy Young Award Winner (2004, 2006) Johan Santana.
As the Mets’ biggest off-season acquisition, Santana did not have a poor year in ’07 (15-13, 3.33 ERA) but he did lead the N.L. in home runs allowed with 33.
But the real story of the year wasn’t Santana. It was what has become known as “The Collapse.”
For most of the year, the Mets dominated the NL Eastern Division. Into the stretch, they played exceptionally well, as they were 21 games over .500 at 83-62 on Sept. 12.
As they say however, objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear – and the Phillies were not far behind the Mets.
Leading Philadelphia by seven games in the division – with only 12 games left to play – the Mets folded and lost six of their final seven games. In a deadlock for first place with Philly on the last day of the season, the Mets were beaten 8-1 by the Florida Marlins.
Meanwhile the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 to win the NL East – the same NL East the Mets had a firm grasp on earlier that month. The Phillies were heading to the playoffs and the Mets were going home for the winter.
It couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Mets after 2007, right?
Not quite. After the ’07 collapse came the collapse of 2008.
Throughout ’08 the Mets had problems, as they fired manager Willie Randolph mid-season and they let go of Pitching Coach Rick Peterson. Jerry Manuel, a former Manager of the Year, took over. But even he couldn’t guide the bullpen in the right direction, as the Mets’ relievers failed them in big spots.
It once again came down to the Mets and the Marlins on the last day of the season.
If the Milwaukee Brewers lost and the Mets won, New York would have captured the NL Wild Card. If the Brew Crew won and the Mets lost, Milwaukee was in.
Lo and behold, the Mets lost 4-2 to Florida on Sept. 28 and the Brewers won, a tragic way to end the final regular season game at Shea Stadium. When it was all over and the meltdown was complete, the Mets of old came out for a postgame ceremony. Players like Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden were on hand to send off Shea Stadium in a nice way.
But to the fans, it felt more like a funeral than a celebration. Two years, two chances for a playoff appearance. And both times, the Mets came up just short at the last minute.
Since then there hasn’t been any room for a postseason collapse for the Mets, simply because they haven’t been in a playoff race following the ’08 meltdown. They attempted to fix their scuffling bullpen by signing closer Francisco Rodriguez prior to 2009. Yet even in trying to build the ‘pen, things didn’t work out.
Case in point: June 12, 2009.
Luis Castillo, a second baseman the Mets traded for in 2007, botched a pop-up that cost the Mets a game – and not just any game: a Subway Series game against their cross-town rivals, the Yankees.
With K-Rod on the mound, two outs, and the Mets leading 8-7 with two men on base, Alex Rodriguez swung and batted a popup behind second base. Castillo got underneath the ball and readied himself to catch it.
When the ball came down he closed his glove, only for it to pop right out and fall to the right field grass, like a piece of bread exploding out of a faulty toaster. Castillo, obviously without his wherewithal, failed to get either base runner out, throwing the ball to second base rather than home plate.
The Yankees scored two runs on the error and won the game 9-8.
It didn’t get any better for the Mets from there, as they ended their first season in Citi Field with a record of 70-92, good for fourth place in the NL East behind Philadelphia, Florida, and Atlanta.
After 2009 the Mets once again tried to land a big-name free agent. Left fielder Jason Bay, coming off a good year playing for the Boston Red Sox, was available and on Minaya’s radar. They signed him to be a power hitter in the middle of the lineup, hoping he would produce and drive in over 100 runs for the season.
Bay did anything but that.
He finished 2010 with a batting average of .259 and only hit six homers with 47 RBIs. It wasn’t exactly what the Mets had in mind, as he had hit 36 home runs with 119 RBIs in Boston the year before. He was also sidelined for a good portion of the year, as he sustained a concussion in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The unlucky outfielder smacked his head against the outfield wall while tracking down a fly ball.
Bay only played 95 games last year and began this season on the disabled list with a rib injury.
Beltran, who was another big-ticket free agent the Mets acquired, has also had a rash of injuries. He had surgery on his knee in January of 2010 and it sparked controversy. The Mets’ organization said the procedure was done without their consent and they stressed their disappointment in Beltran about not consulting them about it first.
Before the Mets signed Beltran before the 2005 season, he gave them – and every other team in baseball – a good reason to seek him out. The centerfielder had slugged 38 homers in ’04 for Kansas City and Houston, and put on quite a hitting show in the 2004 NLCS, which the Astros played against the Cardinals. In that NLCS, he crushed four homers, knocked in five runs, and hit .417.
In his first season with the Mets Beltran hit 16 homers, recorded 78 RBIs, and he averaged .266.
Not a bad season by any means, but certainly not what the Mets had hoped for. Beltran had one outstanding season for the Mets in 2006 – ironically the only season in recent years the Mets have been any good. In ’06 he clobbered 41 homers, registered 116 RBIs, and hit .275.
Statistically, Beltran’s power numbers have declined every year since ’06.
The offense has not been the only facet of the Mets’ game that has been suffering. Their pitching – namely the hurlers they signed to get the job done – have also betrayed them.
Like Beltran, Santana has had one standout year (2008; 16-7, 2.53 ERA) but other than that season, he has been rather ineffective. He has been hurt for three straight years going back to 2009 and at the end of last year he left his Sept. 2 start early and was ultimately shut down. Later that month he had surgery on his pitching shoulder.
This year Santana has yet to pitch and will not begin the 2011 season until end of June or early July.
K-Rod, who had set the all-time saves record in a single season (62 in 2008) before going to Flushing, has not done anything close to what he did while playing for the Los Angeles Angels. Rodriguez went 3-6 in his first year with the Mets and blew seven saves (35 saves in 42 opportunities). He also had a back injury in 2009, once again an unfortunate happening for a player the Mets put a lot of stock into.
This year K-Rod already has one blown save, but one win. Against the Marlins on Saturday, he blew what would have been his first save of the year. However the Mets rallied and bailed him out, scoring three runs in the tenth to beat the fish 6-4.
The day before on Opening Day, the Mets suffered their first loss of the year, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Marlins. A person who works for SNY, the Mets’ cable network, played a clip from the TV show “Family Guy” that poked fun at how poor the Mets have played these past few years.
With all of the collapsing, the breaking down, the failure year after year, the injuries to the big stars, the question has to be asked: if you sign with the Mets, are you committing career suicide? No matter what they do, will they ever be contenders again? Is the team, which has basically been reduced to nothing more than a laughingstock, going to eventually turn things around?
This year, probably not. The Mets just do not have the pitching to go toe-to-toe with the Phillies and some of the other teams in the division, such as the Braves. Combine that with the lackluster run production the Mets showcase, they do not stand a chance.
Even though the Mets are failing, Stewie Griffin is poking fun at them, and the state of the team is seemingly in a state of flux, one thing remains constant: the fans.
Mets fans are very loyal. They know that they are doomed to watch their team fall down and never garner enough energy to pick themselves back up. Yet they still go out to Citi Field, and still root for players like Beltran, Santana, Bay, and K-Rod, and others like David Wright, Ike Davis, and Jose Reyes.
I don’t know how they put up with losing, but they do. I tip my (Yankee) cap to them all.
Wow. It was yet another great day at a Yankee game and another great win for the Bronx Bombers in the new house today. This afternoon the Yankees beat their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, by a score of 4-0.
I had a blast today at Yankee Stadium, going to my second game in five days. My seats were actually in the same exact section I was in Tuesday night vs. the Phillies, just a couple of rows back. And today I went to the game with my older sister, not my dad.
It probably would have made sense to go to the game with my dad today, it being Father’s Day and all, but…it’s kind of hard to explain. My dad got the tickets for me on Tuesday while my sister got the tickets for today. So I went to the game with my dad on my birthday and my sister today.
Yeah. I think that about sums it up.
When we arrived at the Stadium this afternoon, TV cameras were all over the field. Tyler Pennington was filming his show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.” He used the new house for a scene for his show. A whole bunch of his crew members came onto the field and I guess they are going to help someone, as they always do.
In another pre-game ceremony, the reigning Super Bowl M.V.P. Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was behind home plate. He brought his son with him and Mark Teixeira eventually came out and shook his hand. Brees threw out the honorary first pitch and not long after that the game began.
David Wright led off the first with a single off Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia. I wasn’t surrounded by Mets fans, but their presence sure was felt. There were quite a few of them scattered throughout our section. I was worried that Sabathia wasn’t going to be on his game today, or nearly as sharp as he was when I saw him Tuesday night.
But Sabathia came back and got out of the frame with no harm done.
Johan Santana, the starter for the Mets, was just as brilliant out of the gate. Santana sat down the Yankees in order in the first, not allowing a hit. “This could be a legitimate pitcher’s duel,” I said to my sister. “CC and Johan were both set on cruise control in the first!”
Santana was equally as effective in the second as he was in the first, but ran into a brick wall in the third. He loaded the bases with Teixeira coming to the plate and nobody out. Dan Warthen, the Mets’ pitching coach, came out to talk to Santana. It was then I knew something was going to happen.
“Tex is going to do something here,” I said. “I know it…” I had a funny feeling; it’s hard to explain. The bases were loaded and for some reason I knew he was going to come up big in this spot.
And that he did.
Teixeira, batting from the right side of the plate, pulled a long fly ball to left field. Jason Bay ran, ran, and ran some more. Like the rest of us, he looked up and watched the ball fly out of Yankee Stadium for a grand slam home run, his 12th homer of the year.
“OHHHHH!!! GRAND SLAM! A GRAND SLAM!!! MARK TEIXEIRA!” I boisterously cheered. I couldn’t contain my excitement. It was the first time I had seen a Yankee hit a grand slam in-person since Enrique Wilson did it back on Aug. 7, 2003. Obviously it was a special moment, so I had the right to go a little crazy. I high-fived my sister and all of the other Yankee fans in our section.
As us Yankee fans celebrated the granny, the Mets fans suddenly went silent.
In the fourth inning, something amazing almost happened–almost. Derek Jeter was batting and he fouled off a pitch to his right. The ball popped up foul and it was heading directly for me and I mean DIRECTLY FOR ME.
I swear to God, I thought the ball was going to hit me in the face!
I stood up, got ready to catch it, and at the last second it hooked to my right. It landed about three seats over to my right and rolled underneath our row of seats and into the row in front of us. A man sitting right in front of my sister retrieved the foul ball. It was probably the closest I have ever gotten to a foul ball in a Major League Baseball game.
It would have been nice to get it, but…I fell just short of it. Maybe next time.
Sabathia continued to mow down the Mets into the seventh inning. He got through the seventh with relative ease and went on to complete the eighth. Right as the Mets were coming off the field after the top of the frame, the rains came. My sister actually ran to the concession stand to get me ice cream (in the little Yankee helmet!) and I wound up meeting her in the upper concourse.
I was getting drenched! Yankee Stadium, out of nowhere, became a site of torrential rain.
A lot of fans fled the Stadium but my sister and I wanted to stay. We weren’t going to let the rain ruin the rest of our day, so we stuck through the 22-minute rain delay and moved down to the main level concourse. During the delay they played highlights from 2009 season and postseason.
So while we were in the delay, we were at least entertained by the clips from the 2009 World Series Championship season. It was fun to watch that video with a bunch of Mets fans standing around. It makes me appreciate it so much more; I mean, I wasn’t even born the last time they won the World Series!
The ninth inning eventually came and the Yanks brought in Mariano Rivera to slam the door. Rivera got Reyes, Wright, and Ike Davis out to end the game–a 4-0 win over the Mets on the strength of a genius outing by Sabathia and visit to granny by Teixeira. And not just a 4-0 win, but a Subway Series victory over the Mets as well.
Another visit to the new house for me and another win.
Doing a lot of thinking on the way home, I came up with some statistics in terms of me attending games these last few years. I have noticed that the Yankees have won a lot of the games I have been to in recent times.
Maybe I should go to the games more often!
- Dating back to 2007, the Yankees have won 12 of the last 12 games I have attended.
- In games I have been to at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees are 7-0. Three of those seven wins featured pie at the end of the game.
- In Subway Series games I have been to in my life, the Yankees are now 2-2.
- The last time the Yankees lost a game I attended: July 7, 2007; it was Old Timer’s Day and they lost 2-1 to the LA Angels in 13 innings.
Please do not ask me for L/R or Day/Night splits. :p
And on one last note: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Hope you guys had a wonderful and relaxing day!
“He did it! Oh wait…No, he didn’t!”
Everyone knows what happened tonight. And no, I am not speaking about the New York Yankees’ 9-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Sure, Phil Hughes once again gave a dominating pitching performance and captured his seventh victory of the year. Robinson Cano was 3-for-4 with a home run, and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
The Yankees continued their winning ways. But in Detroit, things were different.
Armando Galarraga was on his way to history. The 28 year-old Tigers’ righty was one out, I repeat ONE OUT, away from a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. What’s the worst thing that can happen when you’re pitching a perfect game in the ninth with two outs? Giving up a hit, of course.
For Galarraga, the worst feeling is (probably) that he knows he had the perfect game and it was ruined by an umpire’s terrible, horrible, ridiculous, mind-numbingly bone-headed call.
There just aren’t enough adjectives to describe how bad the call really was.
With two outs in the ninth, Jason Donald of the Tribe grounded the ball out to Miguel Cabrera at first base. Galarraga covered the bag at first and with the ball on the upper webbing of his mitt, stepped on first base before Donald did.
Galarraga began to celebrate; his arm went in the air and an ear-to-ear smile graced his face…that is until the first base umpire called Donald safe when a blind mouse could have easily seen that he was out.
The culprit: Jim Joyce. How he missed the call is beyond me.
Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland had a lot to say right after the play transpired. Even after the Tigers wrapped up the game, they all stood together in unison and argued vehemently with the umpires. The team had good reason to be upset and I do not blame them for getting annoyed with the umpiring crew.
Good for them! It’s about time a team stood up to the umps. It seems they have been missing many calls recently. Whether it is ball and strikes, plays at the plate, or instances like tonight, the umps have been inconsistent and unbearable with their calls. In fact, they have been so bad, it’s laughable.
Consider David Wright of the New York Mets back on May 9. He was thrown out of the game for arguing what was clearly ball four. Home plate umpire Paul Schrieber was inconsistent with his strike zone all afternoon; Wright tried to stand up for himself, and got tossed.
But that was just a meaningless regular season game with nothing at stake. The umps could never screw up games with playoff implications right? WRONG!
Case in point: Game Two of the American League Division Series last year: Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins. Joe Mauer led off the bottom of the 11th with what should have been a ground-rule double. Left Fielder Melky Cabrera chased the ball and actually touched it with the tip of his glove.
The ball appeared to bounce off Cabrera’s glove before bouncing inside the chalk and it was ruled a foul ball. It probably should have been a fair ball or a double, and after the game umpire Phil Cuzzi said he made a mistake.
Mauer eventually reached base with a single after the blown call, but the Yankees were able to get out of the inning with no runs allowed. If the call had gone a different way, the whole complexion of the inning and the game probably would have been much different.
Another example of bad umpiring in a critical situation: Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres in a one-game tiebreaker on Oct. 1, 2007. The winner of this game was going to the playoffs, the loser was going home.
The Rockies won the game in the 13th inning…but did they really?
The game came down to a play at the plate in the last inning; Matt Holliday was called safe by umpire Tim McClelland, but with a second look, Holliday was out. Even after the game, Holliday’s teammate Todd Helton stated he was out but he “did not want to talk about it.”
Of course he didn’t want to talk about it. The call went his way. But think about how the Padres felt after that. Their whole season–what they worked for out of spring training–was ended thanks to a bad call by an umpire.
The umpires’ blown calls are beginning to get ridiculous. Perhaps instant replay should be instituted for more than just home run calls. It would have helped Galarraga in tonight’s case. Because there is no way to reverse the clearly bad decision, it cost him a perfect game.
I truly feel it was the worst call I have ever seen in a sporting event–and that’s quite an accomplishment!!! Tim Kurkjian, renowned baseball analyst, said he has been covering baseball for 30 years, and he has never seen a more horrible call.
Galarraga said he does not hold any bad feelings towards Joyce, as he apologized to him after the game. In Joyce’s words, “I cost the kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the REPLAY. It was the biggest call of my career.”
Leyland, although visibly upset at what happened, stated that all umpires are human. The Tigers’ skipper also said that Joyce is a good umpire and a veteran, and that he just missed a call.
Unfortunately I don’t think “sorry” is good enough anymore. These umpires can apologize all they want, it does not change the fact that they ruin things for teams and players. If Galarraga had gone all the way tonight, he would have set a Major League record of three perfect games (along with Dallas Braden on May 9 and Roy Halladay on May 29) in a matter of 23 days.
It’s a shame. Just a shame.
To you, Mr. Galarraga: I apologize. In my mind, you tossed a perfecto. You were just on the receiving end of yet another botched up call by the sorry excuse for an umpire known as Jim Joyce.
You were given, as I would say, “A First-Class, Grade A, Vince McMahon Screw Job.”
I kind of know how you feel, though…(look under MLB ’06)
It’s been a crazy weekend in baseball!
I’d first like to begin by letting everyone know the Yankees have now won four in a row and have taken the first four series of the young season from their opponents. This is the first time the Yankees have done this since 1926, indicating one of the finest starts I have ever seen the team get off to.
Michael Kay said yesterday that “New Yorkers always look for the negatives,” speaking of Mark Teixeira’s huge slump. He may or may not be out of it, what with his towering, second-deck home run in the Yanks’ 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers this afternoon.
That moon shot marked Teixeira’s first homer this year.
Maybe when the Yanks hit the road this week and head out west he can really breakout and have a monster tear. I know Teixeira is historically a slow starter, but he is too good to keep down for so long. I still feel he will finish with a ton of home runs, over 100 RBIs, and close to, if not over, 100 runs scored.
As they say, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.
The Yankees will now head to Oakland to start a series against the Athletics, who are turning a lot of heads in the AL West division. The A’s are currently in first place with a record of 9-4 in the West.
Tuesday, Javier Vazquez and Gio Gonzalez will open up the series. Phil Hughes will square off with Ben Sheets on Wednesday night. Finally on Thursday, CC Sabathia will face Dallas Braden to close it all out.
It should be a good set of games out in Oakland and the Yankees will be on the road for the next nine games. After Oakland they will travel to Anaheim to play the Angels for three games. After that, they come back to the east coast to play against the Orioles in Baltimore.
The Yankees return home on April 30 to host the White Sox. Long trip! Looks like their frequent-flier miles will be put to good use.
I wanted to mention the struggles of the Boston Red Sox. At this point in the season they are probably one of the worst teams in the American League, just coming off being swept in three games by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees and Rays sit atop the division with identical 9-3 records.
Toronto is in third with a record of 7-6, one game over .500. Boston is 4-8 in fourth while the Baltimore Orioles are 2-11.
It seems this year could very well be a two-team race. I know it’s way too early to be speaking about the Division title, but if Boston keeps struggling the way they are, they might fall so far out of first place it will very difficult to make a comeback.
Not saying it can’t happen; in the 1970s the Yankees were 14 games behind the Red Sox in July and somehow came back to win the AL East. They called it the “Boston Massacre” back when it happened. If Boston wants the crown enough, they can certainly come back and get it.
At this point in the season however, the Yankees and Rays are better.
What a great story!
Last night, Ubaldo Jimenez became the first pitcher in the Colorado Rockies’ 18 year history to toss a no-hitter. The 26 year-old righty no-hit the Atlanta Braves en route to a 4-0 Rockies win.
His no-no reminded me a lot of A.J. Burnett’s back in 2001. When with the Marlins, Burnett tossed a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres and the Fish won 3-0. Burnett did get his no-no, but he walked nine batters in the game.
Although he was in shutdown mode, Jimenez walked six Braves in the game.
Jimenez owes his life to Dexter Fowler, who made a spectacular circus catch in the seventh inning to preserve the no-hitter. Fowler got on his horse, dove, and robbed Troy Glaus of a hit in the left-centerfield gap.
Pretty play. Jimenez should buy Fowler a Rolex for that one.
That catch reminded me of Dewayne Wise’s catch last summer to save Mark Buerhle’s perfect game. Wise leapt the wall and took a home run away from Gabe Kapler and helped lead Buerhle to a perfect game. Keep in mind Buerhle had already thrown a no-hitter in 2007.
As for Jimenez, great work. And congrats on the big no-no.
I never though it would end. I have to give the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals all the credit in the world for how they both played this game.
On Saturday, the Mets and Cards played for six hours and 53 minutes, a 20-inning game. The Mets came out on top, 2-1.
I’m not sure what it was. I suppose a combination of terrible hitting, very good pitching, and strange choices. The Mets first three hitters (meaning Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, and David Wright) were a combined 3-for-20 in the game.
Reyes and Jeff Francoeur were the only two Mets who recorded RBIs. The team left a total of 18 men on base and struck out 16 times. It took the Mets five innings to record a hit, as Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia no-hit the Mets up until Angel Pagan singled in the top of the sixth.
The Cardinals just confused me with some of their moves. They had Kyle Lohse, a pitcher, playing the outfield. Later in the game they had two position players on the mound. Joe Mather, an outfielder, recorded the loss in this game.
In the 14th and 16th innings, the Cardinals sent their relief pitcher to the plate to bat with the bases loaded. In both instances, the Cardinals could have won the game by using a pinch-hitter, yet instead they opted to use relief pitchers to hit.
Why? I have no clue. I guess they wanted to save their bullpen, but it cost them.
In any event it was a good game; very fun to watch. It was one of the more exciting games to watch this year, and maybe it can turn things around for the Mets. For as much of a Yankee fan as I am, I think the NL East is too boring.
The Phillies have dominated that division for too long. If the Mets can win games like yesterday (in that never-say-die attitude) they can make it more interesting. I don’t want to see the Phillies back in the World Series.
Besides, I’d rather see a Subway Series in October. But of course we all know which team would win that…
The game of baseball has been around since the 1800s but in the 1980s, a new way to play America’s favorite game was invented. 1985 saw the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, an 8-bit way for kids to have fun. Many games were released for the gaming console, the most famous probably being Super Mario Brothers.
After the NES there was the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo, the Playstation, the Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Game Cube, and Xbox…and the list goes on and on and on.
With these new gaming systems came a broad variety of baseball games. There were some that were just so fun to play, others that were not as good, and some that were completely out of whack.
I have played quite a few of these baseball games as a kid growing up and I’d like to retell my experience as a gamer. Without any further ado, here are some the most memorable baseball video games:
Triple Play ’99
This was the first baseball game I ever had for a gaming console and it was the first game I ever had for the Playstation.
Alex Rodriguez was the cover boy (of course as a member of the Seattle Mariners) and I have to say, the game wasn’t bad. I enjoyed playing it as my first baseball game and it met the expectations for a Playstation game: decent graphics, easy controls, and good sound.
Triple Play ’99 was made by EA Sports, who are synonymous with good sports games. After all, EA Sports are the makers of Madden, probably the best football game ever invented for a gaming system, so it’s no surprise that their baseball games are also very good.
Buck Martinez and Jim Hughson call the action and they weren’t a bad choice for this game. The game designers did a nice job of having them include a good amount of baseball jargon. For example, they mention a “can of corn” when a batter flies out.
They go on to tell you how the term originated–how it supposedly comes from a General Store clerk reaching up and dropping a can from a high shelf before catching it.
I don’t get it either, but nonetheless it is a baseball term I learned from the game.
Along with the lingo used by the announcers, Triple Play ’99 offers you the chance to play as all 30 teams, adding the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the baseball video gaming world. Both teams had never been in a video game before, so it was neat to see them make their gaming debut.
In addition to the new teams, you can use every Major League stadium aside from the Kingdome, which at the time was ready to be demolished. If you activate cheat codes, you can also play in Anytown U.S.A. (a ballpark designed to look like a regular old sandlot) Neo Vancouver (a stadium on the moon) and Ancient Rome (what could be better than playing baseball at the Coliseum?)
The Home Run Derby feature was also fun to use, especially with those secret stadiums. Can you imagine playing Home Derby on the moon? Doesn’t get more epic than that!
Overall Triple Play ’99 was a great way to begin a journey into baseball video games. If you have a Playstation, I highly recommend you check it out if you can get your hands on it.
My first game may have been Triple Play ’99, but MLB ’99 was the first baseball game I remember getting addicted to. My friends Joey and Tim lived across the street and (it seemed like) every day after school I would be over their house playing this game.
Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles was featured on the cover and 989 Sports developed the game. In fact, MLB ’99 was the second game in a series of baseball games. The year before Bernie Williams graced the cover of MLB ’98 and the line of games continued all the way up to MLB 2006.
I collected the entire series except for ’98 and it had to be (in my opinion) the best line of baseball games ever, at least for its time. There was nothing like going over Joey and Tim’s house to play this game and just mashing up the competition playing as the Yankees.
The controls were extremely basic and the game play was nearly perfect. If you were playing the field and the batter hit a high fly ball to the outfield, a shadow would appear so you would know where to be positioned to catch the ball and make the put-out.
It doesn’t get simpler than that. On the other side when you are batting, you tap the X button to bat for average and the square to bat for power. It was easy enough for even the most inexperienced gamer.
As for announcing it is Vin Scully, the legendary voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Dave Campbell, who played for the Detroit Tigers, the San Diego Padres, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Houston Astros.
Both announcers were so much fun to listen to. They included fun facts about each team and sometimes made me laugh with what they said. For example, one time my friends and I traded all the best players to the Yankees. We took Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. and lined them up 1-5.
Each player proceeded to hit a solo home run. After the fourth homer, Campbell blurts out “This is starting to feel like a video game now.”
“…Correct me if I’m wrong, but THIS IS a video game!” That was all I could say as I was laughing at that comment. We are playing a video game and the announcer in the video game is comparing a video game to a video game.
I could only muster one cheat code in the game and that was to create a player by the name of Scott Murray. If you created this player, no matter how big or how small you made him, he would always hit a home run measured at exactly 506 feet. I don’t know where the developer came up with that name or number, but it worked every time.
This one time, I created a whole team of all Scott Murrays and eventually had to restart the game. I played as the away team and before the end of the first half-inning the score was 50-0. I had to bunt to make the three outs.
At any rate, the game is a classic in my view. It was great for its time and the rest of the games in the series were basically the same up until MLB 2004 (the only difference being roster moves). After 2003, the series was only released on Playstation 2 and after MLB 2006, 989 Sports turned the line of games over to Sony, who renamed it “MLB The Show.”
If you ever see MLB ’99 or any of the other classic MLB games for PS1, do yourself a favor and play them. I guarantee you will have a fun time.
MLB Slugfest 20-03
“Why did I buy this? Why?” — the words I uttered after the first few days I played this game. I thought this was going to be one of the best baseball games ever. Boy was I wrong! What a waste of time, money, and effort.
Midway developed Slugfest 20-03 for the Playstation 2 and I wish they hadn’t. I wish they had just not done anything and never came up with the idea to make a baseball game. The Slugfest game line should just not exist.
A-Rod once again made the cover, this time as a member of the Texas Rangers. If I were him, I would have asked Midway to have my image removed from the cover because it was the most horrible baseball game in the history of the existence of this universe.
When I mention MLB Slugfest, I will gladly admit that I was suckered. The commercials and TV spots made this game look like the most unbelievable baseball game ever–good graphics, outstanding game play, and simplistic controls. But none of that was true. The graphics were terrible, the game play was abominable, and the controls were ridiculous.
I’ll admit the Stadiums looked OK, but the players themselves were not even close. Derek Jeter looked like a raccoon run over by an 18-wheeler. It was pathetic! What a joke!
Speaking of jokes, the announcers for this game were just awful. They weren’t even real people–Tim Kitrew and his partner Jim Shorts. I am not lying, his name was Jim Shorts. If the name wasn’t bad enough, his comments were absolutely ridiculous and borderline offensive. Here is an excerpt from a conversation between the two announcers taken from the game:
Jim: “Hey Tim, there’s a woman behind home plate lifting up her shirt. It’s distracting the pitcher!”
Tim: “Yes! I see that, Jim. Except for one thing–it’s a guy.”
Are you serious? What would possess someone to say something like that in a video game or just in general? Tim also says things like, “Dive for that you sissy,” after making a routine catch. It’s like, why would I dive for a routine catch? Another one of my personal favorites: if you strike out looking Tim says,
“He is standing there like he’s waiting for a pizza delivery guy. He’s going to BE the pizza delivery guy if he doesn’t swing the bat!”
If you didn’t think it could get any worse than that, it does. You cannot trade players, you can’t use more than three pitchers per team, and you can’t create new players.
You can however punch and kick the other team’s players. Yes, you heard right, you can literally stand there and punch and kick the other team’s players. I guess trades, pitchers, and the create-a-player function were not important enough. Fighting was more logical.
It’s so unrealistic it makes it laughable.
In terms of cheat codes, there are a wide variety of them. You can put in codes to make your players’ heads look like horses or eagles, make the baseball bigger, maximize your speed and power, use a mace or a log as a bat, and unlock some secret stadiums.
I honestly haven’t tried out all of the cheats because I didn’t play this game enough times to utilize them. It has to be the worst baseball game ever. Stay away from it all costs!
Being a huge fan of the MLB series, I was very excited when the ’06 game came out. This was the last MLB game 989 produced before handing the series over to Sony, so in my view ’06 was historic.
It was only the third MLB game on Playstation 2 and Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels was our cover boy.
Unfortunately the game was not as good as I thought it would be. Sure the graphics were great on Playstation 2, the controls were once again easy to manage, and you could play as every team in the league. But there were so many things wrong with the game.
I can remember one night I was playing against the Pirates (of course as the Yankees) and I was on fire. I was winning 5-0 and tossing a perfect game with Shawn Chacon (remember him?!) I was on my way to the pitcher’s dream, nothing was stopping me. I was going to do it. I had no doubt in my mind I was going to make video game history and be among the elite gamers who can say, “I pitched a perfect game in MLB ’06.”
Right as I was about to do it–I’m talking two outs in the ninth–the game froze. The game FROZE. You had never seen a person go from being on top of the world to the bottom of the underbelly of the universe so fast. I was outraged, I was really mad, and I almost cried.
In one deft move the game stole my livelihood away from me. What a selfish game.
It wasn’t the first time it happened, either. In fact, it always happened. You could be halfway through a game and the whole thing would just stop working. It was one of the most annoying and frustrating things to ever happen to a gamer. 989 should have maybe, you know, tested the game before they released it.
Along with the freezing glitch, I hated the fact that you could not edit your players. For example, Johnny Damon was on the Red Sox at the time and I eventually had to trade him to the Yankees. In the game he had a huge beard and long hair and he had to stay that way; there was nothing I could do to change it.
Everybody knows the Yankees do not allow facial hair and long hair, so I was stuck playing with Damon as a caveman Yankee. It just didn’t look right. They should have come up with better ways to edit the players and shouldn’t have had the freezing problem–especially when you are about to accomplish something amazing.
Overall I think it was sad to see 989 screw up the last MLB game they compiled.
Awhile back I had wanted to play some of the classic Nintendo games. I downloaded a fascinating application to my computer known as Console Classix. This allowed me to play virtually every Nintendo game for the original system.
I checked out some baseball games and came across Baseball Stars. I wish I hadn’t.
From what I read, the game garnered great critical success and some people have even gone as far as saying it was the best baseball game on Nintendo. My only question is, “What game were they playing?!”
The cover features some guy who today would probably be suspected of steroid usage wearing a red “Crushers” uniform wearing the number 7. No clue where they got that idea from.
Although it was not licensed by Major League Baseball, the players are so obviously named after actual major leaguers. There’s Pete (after Pete Rose), Babe (do I even have to get into this one?) and Hank (of course after Hank Aaron).
When I first played it, I noticed that the teams’ initials were abbreviated. I saw one team’s initials were “L.L.” and got curious so I picked them to play against my team, thinking it might be a team of “Little Leaguers” or something.
I was shocked to see that “L.L.” stood for “Lovely Ladies” and the all-women team was dressed like the players from “A League of Their Own.” I had to laugh but not soon after that I almost cried.
Playing as the “American Dreams” (with Pete, Babe, and Hank) I started to play the Lovely Ladies. Unable to figure out the controls on my computer, I proceeded to get massacred by a team of girls. They hit home run after home run and beat me 10-0 to the Mercy Rule.
No offense to any girls out there, but Pete Rose, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron lost to Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell. Now that’s just sad.
I will say, the game at least provided me with a little comic relief, much like MLB Slugfest 20-03 did. And the controls were probably easier to manage playing from a regular Nintendo controller rather than a laptop. Feel free to check this game out, but if you’re playing on the computer, good luck!
MLB ’07 The Show
Believe it or not, this was the last baseball game I bought and it was the second game in the MLB series that was not produced by 989 sports. Sony handled everything with this game and they did not disappoint.
David Wright of the New York Mets made the cover of this game and let’s just say they did this game the right way (pun intended).
You can choose to use classic controls or the new controls for base running, pitching, and hitting. You can easily trade players during a season mode without having to have the other team approve of it and best of all you can edit your players!
They finally decided to put the edit feature in. If a player gets traded you can edit their uniform number and position, a feature that was not included on any past edition of MLB. It was one thing that annoyed me for years and years.
For example, I had to trade David Justice to the Yankees from the Braves in MLB 2001. I couldn’t edit his number so he wore 23 on the Yanks, the same number he wore on the Braves.
23 is Don Mattingly’s number! Justice wore 28! So thankfully they put that option into the game because it was something that simply needed to be done.
Along with the editing feature, MLB ’07 The Show offered a new “road to the show” mini-game. You can play as a minor leaguer and work your way up to the majors in what was an innovative and brilliant concept. I’m not sure if it was also offered in the 2006 version of The Show, but if it was, then it was a good idea to continue it.
In terms of cheats, there are only two that come to mind. First, you can unlock the Golden and Silver Era teams, consisting of classic legendary players from the past. The Golden Era team owns players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Satchel Paige, Ty Cobb, and Rogers Hornsby.
The Silver Era team is made of more contemporary players like Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Joe Morgan, and Don Drysdale. To have these teams available in the game was a great idea. There’s nothing like playing with your favorite team and going up against a group of legends.
To go along with the renowned players are classic stadiums, the second cheat. Type in the code and you can play at the Polo Grounds, Forbes Field, and a number of other old-time ballparks. It really is a great code to include in the game; if you want to take a break from your season, wind down and play an exhibition or Home Run Derby at one of the old-time Stadiums.
Really the only gripe I have against the game is the create-a-player mode. You can create a player using the eye-toy, which is a neat feature if you want to create yourself, but you are only allowed a certain number of players to create.
I tried to create some of the players left out of the game and after awhile a message popped up telling me “You cannot create anymore players.”
You’d think the amount of players you can create would be unlimited. Well, think again.
All in all, this is a great game and my favorite of the newer versions. Of course the ’08 and ’09 versions are out and maybe when I get the time I will pick up the latest edition of MLB The Show, which obviously is ’10. But keep in mind, MLB The Show is basically the same game re-released every year, just with updated rosters.
However, I am curious to see how they made the new Yankee Stadium, so I will eventually buy ’10 and see if it lives up to my expectations.
The day was June 15, 2007. My 20th birthday. My teenage years were now behind me. I was going through some rough times back then, but it was my birthday and I was going to enjoy it.
Up late the night before, my dad (I suppose) felt obliged to come into my room and wake me up at 7:00 a.m. He said there were a couple of birthday gifts downstairs for me, so I managed to drag myself out of bed, still half asleep, and make my way down to open my gifts.
First I unwrapped a framed, personalized Yankee photo; a thoughtful gift that I loved. Today it hangs in my room directly under my framed Derek Jeter Prodigy poster.
Then my dad reached into his pocket to reveal an envelope–two tickets to the Yankees vs. Mets game at Yankee Stadium that night. It was really the only gift I had asked for that year and I was ecstatic that we were going.
“We’ll go watch old Roger pitch tonight, son. Happy birthday!” is what my dad told me.
Roger Clemens and Oliver Perez were the probable pitchers, and I was fully expecting the Yankees to dismantle their cross-town rivals. Perez had showed inconsistency entering that game, posting a (slim) winning record of 6-5.
For Clemens, it was only his second start in his second stint with the Bombers, and in his homecoming game on June 9, he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and looked on top of his game. In his first start back against the Bucs, the Rocket gave up three runs on just five hits over six innings of work. He walked two and struck out seven.
Not bad, if you ask me. I was expecting more of that on my birthday.
We made it to the stadium early to catch batting practice. It was nice to see Jeter and Jorge Posada go over to Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez during batting practice, as the once-Yankee pitcher, who was a vital part of the Championship years in the late ’90s, was now a starter for the Mets.
I smiled as they embraced and shook hands; it reminded me of those old days when the three were teammates. I realized at that moment that baseball players really don’t forget where they came from; I know those three didn’t.
The game eventually got underway and Clemens quickly got into trouble; he put Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran on base to lead off the game. He soon settled down, however, getting Paul LoDuca to groundout and end the frame avoiding any damage.
The game was moving rather slowly up until the top of the third. Reyes was able to tap a single through the middle into centerfield to score Carlos Gomez, who would later play a pivotal role in the outcome of the game. It gave the Mets a 1-0 lead and I was none too happy about it.
In the fifth, Reyes struck again, belting a solo home run off Clemens. This is what I saw:
From my seat, I saw the ball hit off Reyes’s bat. I looked and saw right fielder Bobby Abreu drifting back. I saw the ball bank off the Modells sign on the facing of the upper deck. And then I looked back and saw Reyes rounding second base on his way home after it was officially ruled a goner.
I could hear the Mets fans in attendance overpower the Yankee fans’ jeers. They screamed in unison, “JOSE! Jose-Jose-Jose. Jose! Jose!” in place of “Ole! Ole-Ole-Ole” as the tune actually goes.
“Where am I?” I remember thinking. “Shea Stadium?!”
Reyes’s homer gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. His home run was hard to watch, but believe it or not it wasn’t the biggest play of the game.
The inning before Reyes left the yard, Miguel Cairo stood at the plate with Robinson Cano on first and Hideki Matsui on second and one out. He smacked a long fly ball to left, unquestionably destined for the seats.
But Gomez leapt for the ball at the wall, reached his glove over the fence and made a spectacular catch to rob Cairo of a big fly. Not only did Gomez snatch the ball, he had the wherewithal to gun it back to second base and double up Matsui to end the frame.
I was beside myself. I could not believe I saw that. I thought to myself, “Cairo needs to call the NYPD, because Gomez stole his homer!”
And that robbed homer proved to be the difference in the ballgame, because the Mets went on to win, 2-0. The Yankees couldn’t generate any offense the rest of the night. Even Alex Rodriguez, who was having the season of his life, could not save the Yankees on that night.
Rodriguez went on to hit 54 home runs that year, knock in 156 runs, and win the Most Valuable Player Award. I knew he was having an amazing season and the crowd was behind him when the eighth inning approached.
The 2007 MVP stepped into the box with two outs and Jeter on third. The capacity crowd went absolutely insane! It was almost like they expected him to hit a home run and tie the game. When I say the crowd was going nuts, believe me, they were going nuts.
Unfortunately A-Rod grounded weakly to his counterpart David Wright and ended the inning. And basically ended the Yankees’ hopes of coming back to win.
Win Perez, loss Clemens. Save Billy Wagner, loss A.J. Martelli.
Yes, I was upset but I cannot say I didn’t have fun. I did what I wanted to do on my birthday and got the opportunity to watch my favorite team play. It was a good night, despite the loss. For as bad as the Yanks struggled, Carlos Delgado struggled just as much.
The Mets’ first baseman recorded the golden sombrero: four strikeouts in one game, three of those four times he was fanned by Clemens. Even though the Yankees lost, it was a legitimate pitchers duel, which are usually the best games to go to. The Yankees just happened to be on the wrong end of it.
And for that I blame Gomez for his thievery; I can’t take anything away from his athleticism, but man did I wonder: if he hadn’t caught that ball, the complexion of the whole game might have been so much different.
I wasn’t only amused by the action on the field that night, either.
What I also recall from my 20th birthday was the yapping that I overheard between two fans. Believe it or not, a Phillies fan was seated next to me, rooting for the Yankees against the Mets. A Met fan was sitting next to him and the two began discussing the National League East.
“Who’s your best guy?” the Mets fan asked. “Chase Utley…I’d say Utley. Or Ryan Howard,” the Phillie fan replied.
The conversation continued.
“Who’s your closer?” the Met fan asked. “(Antonio) Alfonseca!” the Phillie fan answered.
“Yeah. We’ll see you in October,” said the Met fan mockingly.
The irony was absurd.
If that Met fan had only known what was going to happen at the end of that year–the Mets blowing a seven game lead in the division with only 12 left to play–I’m sure he wouldn’t have opened his mouth at all that night.
When the Mets missed the playoffs in 2007, I immediately remembered that conversation. “Yeah, I bet that Met fan is kicking himself right now!” I thought as I witnessed the epic collapse.
I’ll bet he was also crying the next two days. Following the Mets’ 2-0 win over the Yankees on my birthday, they lost to the Yankees the next two games and ultimately lost the weekend series.
I watched the third game with some of my family members who are Mets fans. Rodriguez homered in that game, Chien-Ming Wang struck out 10, and the Yankees won 8-2. It was refreshing to see the Yanks win and in a way it made up for the loss on my birthday two days before.
But I’ll never forget that birthday. Every time someone speaks of the Mets’ 2007 collapse, or I see Gomez, I think of that night.