Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity. Yankee legend Lou Gehrig once claimed to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Yesterday afternoon, I felt I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
I was fortunate enough to spend the day with my friends and family at Yankee Stadium for the Bronx Bombers’ home opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not only was it their home opener, it was their ring ceremony, held to commemorate their 2009 World Series Championship.
After a beautiful ceremony, the Yankees beat the Angels, 7-5.
But the day wasn’t just about RBIs, base hits, and runs scored. It wasn’t just about the Yankees receiving their championship rings. It went far beyond anything that anyone can really understand. Overall, it was a wonderful experience; one I will never forget.
A Meaningful Day
My cousin Thomas, who invited me and my other cousin Krystina to the game, could not have been more excited for Opening Day. He got the tickets and graciously invited us to this historic game. His father (my Uncle John) recently passed away. I know that Thomas would have loved nothing more than to share the day with his dad.
Since his dad could not be there, I find it so honorable that he wanted me there to share the day with him. I could not have felt better. The fact that he asked me to go with him nearly drove me to tears.
And it didn’t get any easier when we reached the ballpark.
Getting off the train, we noticed the old Yankee Stadium. The building is nearly torn down completely. It was an unbelievable sight to behold. I can remember so many great and meaningful memories for me in that Stadium, and my only thought was, “is it really right for them to just gut it and rip it down?”
I guess they had to do it, but it didn’t make me feel very good. I could tell Thomas was taken back by the whole thing; he was as overwhelmed as I was. The same building where Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and countless other Yankee legends made history is now in shambles; it’s merely a skeleton of what used to be a beautiful ballpark.
Heartbreaking, to say the least.
When we got inside the new Stadium, it was madness. Everywhere you looked the words, “2009 World Series Champions” were visible. The Great Hall was buzzing with Yankee fans, all ready to watch the team accept their 27th World Title.
Thomas, Krystina, and I went down to the field level. There we met up with Thomas’s sister (another one of my cousins) Ashley, who went to the game with her friend Matthew. We took a picture together–in my mind, the best picture I took all day. I took a ridiculous amount of photos of the players, the ceremony, and the game.
But I would say the group shot we took together was the best. I would not be anywhere without my family and they mean so much to me. I was honored that they invited me to the game, and for that I cannot thank them enough.
Ashley and Matt went to their seats while Thomas, Krystina, and I stayed on the field level to watch the Angels take batting practice, as the Yanks took BP before the gates opened to the public. We were literally pressed directly up against the wall in right field. We had a perfect view of everything!
Thomas kept yelling for a ball. He wanted one more than anything. Former Yankee Bobby Abreu was practically right in front of us. He lobbed a couple loose baseballs into the stands, but not any that came near us. Two security guards however were standing near us and Thomas chatted with them, trying to coerce them into getting him a ball.
Whoever was in the Angels’ batting cage smoked one down the right field line. The ball ricocheted off the side of the wall and onto the grass.
“Can you get that for me?” Thomas politely asked.
“We are not allowed to go on the grass,” one of the security guards answered.
Not long after that, another ball was ripped down the right field line in foul territory, landing safely on the dirt. It was right in front of the guards.
“Please!” Thomas persisted. “Please get that for me!”
The guard smiled, bent over, picked up the ball, and placed it softly in Thomas’s glove.
I have never in my life seen a child happier. Thomas, with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, had gotten a foul ball in batting practice, a feat I never accomplished at a Major League game. He was ecstatic and I was overjoyed that he was able to get it.
I’m sure it will be something he’ll remember forever.
What I thought was significant about the day was the team the Yankees were playing. They played the Angels. And I have no doubt in my mind that Thomas’s dad, my Uncle John, was one of the Angels at the Stadium yesterday–but he was an Angel for the Yankees. It truly felt as though he was right there with us.
After batting practice wrapped, the ring ceremony festivities were set to begin. I watched from behind centerfield and everything looked wonderful. Michael Kay and John Sterling emceed the ceremony and the World Series trophy was even on display.
First the team paid homage to owner George Steinbrenner, who was in attendance for the days’ events. I have never heard a louder ovation for a non-player in my life. The crowd roared for him and rightfully so. Without Mr. Steinbrenner, there would be no Yankee team.
Then Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra came out to help hand out the rings. Manager Joe Girardi also helped distribute the rings and he congratulated each player as they accepted their prize. One by one, every Yankee from last year’s team was called out to get their ring.
Really the only players who were missing were Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Jerry Hairston, Jr. (although no longer with the team) was in the ballpark to get his ring. As was Hideki Matsui, the MVP of the ’09 World Series who is now a member of the Angels.
They saved Matsui’s introduction for last, and he received a humungous, deafening ovation. I think every Yankee fan recognized Matsui’s hard work and dedication over the seven years he played in the Bronx. I know he will always be a Yankee in my heart.
When the ceremony was ready to conclude, the whole team ran in and showed Matsui a lot of love; the team got together one last time and embraced for a group hug. The hug almost brought a tear to my eye, because I know how close the 2009 team was.
I didn’t realize until I got home how they had tricked Matsui. Girardi handed him a bootleg ring and later during the Opening Day ceremony ran the real ring over to him. Matsui laughed and I could see his Angel teammates also teasing him for it.
A little playful humor now and then is relished by the best teams, I guess.
And speaking about the Opening Day ceremony: once again, overwhelming. They called the Angels out of their dugout and they all lined up along the third baseline. The Yankees lined up on the first baseline, and cadets from West Point stood in center field to unfurl the American flag. Not long after the anthem ended, two enormous jets flew over Yankee Stadium.
Those fighter jets were LOUD! When I tell you they were loud, they were LOUD! The ground literally shook as they flew over the new house. And once again, it was quite a sight to behold. My only word for it: “Amazing.”
After the anthem and beautiful aerial presentation, Bernie Williams, the great former center fielder, tossed out the honorable first pitch. Talk about an ovation! Williams received a rousing hand from us Yankee faithful, but it somewhat shocked us how he bounced the pitch. Being a former All-Star center fielder, you would think Williams would hit home plate! He missed, much to the surprise of the crowd. The gentleman standing next to me yelled, “Oh, come on Bernie! You gotta hit the glove!”
It’s Ok, Bernie. I still love you.
After the Yankees were finished warming up and all pre-game ceremonies were over, it was time to, as they say, play ball! Yankees vs. Angels.
The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Nick Johnson blasted a solo home run to right field, a shot that (as I understand) landed right next to Bald Vinny–the legendary Bleacher Creature who starts the famous Yankee “roll call” at the beginning of each home game.
Unfortunately I was on line for food when this happened, but I heard the crowd roar and got into a spot just in time to see Johnson cross home plate. In any event it was the first of many home runs the Yankees will hit in their house in 2010.
As Andy Pettitte worked brilliantly through the first three innings, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the frame. The Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, stepped up to the plate and crushed a solo home to right field, his first of the year.
It really is amazing how many games I have been to that have featured a home run by Jeter. It seems every game I get out to, he hits a home run. I can think of at least five games off the top of my head in which Jeter has homered. Maybe I bring some kind of luck to him, who knows.
In any event, 2-0 Yankees at the end of three innings of play.
One of the more special moments during the day was Matsui’s first at-bat. The former beloved Yankee received yet another rousing ovation from the fans while he stepped into the batter’s box. Pettitte respectfully tipped his cap and stepped off the mound and allowed his former teammate to soak up the moment.
Matsui removed his helmet and acknowledged the fans who once called him a hero. Unfortunately for the 2009 World Series MVP, the Yankees were not very kind to him in terms of his day at the plate. He was 0-for-5 on the day with a strikeout.
The Yankees tacked on three more runs before the end of the sixth inning. Jeter was at it again in the fourth, reaching on an infield single that scored Curtis Granderson. In the sixth, Alex Rodriguez reached on yet another infield single, which brought home Johnson and Nick Swisher.
5-0, all Yankees at the end of six innings. It was looking good for us.
That is, until Kendry Morales stepped up in the top of the eighth. The Angels’ first baseman smashed a long, solo home run into the second deck in right field, putting the Angels on the board, 5-1.
The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth, both of them proving to be the difference in the game. Jorge Posada doubled to score Johnson and Granderson singled to score Robinson Cano, giving the Yankees a 7-1 edge.
Posada’s double put him ahead of Mantle on the all-time Yankee doubles list.
You would think with a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth inning everything would be safe and secure. Well, think again. Feeling that the game was practically over, my cousins and I watched the end of the game from the concourse on the first base side.
And we received a pleasant surprise followed by a not-so-pleasant surprise, followed by a happy ending.
Right before the ninth inning began, two gentleman sitting in the field box seats decided to leave. One of them tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his tickets.
“Here you go,” he said. “You guys can watch the end from the field level seats.”
“WOW!” I exclaimed. “Thank you very much!”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied.
How awesome is that?! You never really see that type of chivalry anymore. A man, not knowing who I was, just gave up his seats to me, a stranger. Granted, the game was almost over, it was still a very noble gesture and overall a kind act.
Who says New Yorkers are mean-spirited?
In any event my cousins and I, now sitting in comfortable, padded box seats, watched David Robertson surrender hit after walk after hit, eventually loading the bases. I still thought the Yankees were in great shape, even if they only gave up a run or two.
To our dismay, former Yankee Abreu stepped up and slaughtered a grand slam home run to left field, something he specialized in when he played for the Yankees. I will always like Abreu; in my mind he was the best Yankee right fielder since Paul O’Neill. But yesterday…I did not like him. He burned us pretty bad.
I mean, Abreu’s home run was a real shot. I’m talking way back into the left field seats.
Now with the score at 7-5 and a save situation in place, Girardi was prompted to bring in Mariano Rivera. The great Rivera struck Torii Hunter out swinging and then got his former teammate Matsui to pop out to end the game.
Ballgame over. Yankees win. THEEEEE Yankees win!
We stayed and watched the Yankees take congratulations and improve their record to 5-2.
We exited the ballpark and once again looked at the demolished old stadium. Thomas looked at it once more, and looking at it again, I could not help but think of all the games his father took us to. I think a part of us went down with that stadium.
But then we glanced back at the new stadium and thought about the days’ events. The Yankees had just won and we had just witnessed history; the first ring ceremony in the new Stadium, a batting practice foul ball, a great game, a seat upgrade from a gracious fan and a Yankee win.
And not only that, a day spent with my friends and family.
I could not have asked for anything better. It was just a day where nothing went wrong. I can truly say that I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth yesterday.
And Uncle John: I know you were there with us. We miss you.
Keep smiling down on us and the Yankees.
Well gang, here we are on the eve of the baseball season. In a little over 24 hours the Yankees and Red Sox will dim the lights and raise the curtains on the 2010 MLB season. It’s on; the wait is over. It’s the best day of the sports year, if you ask me. It’s your number one vs. their number one.
As Al Bundy once said, “Let there be baseball. Let there be LIFE.”
Time to get yapping about the Yankees!
Yankees vs. the Future Yankees
Manager Joe Girardi said it best: “Either way, we can’t lose today!”
The Yankees started their regular players against a team of baby Bombers in the final spring training game this afternoon. It was quite interesting to see Derek Jeter and the boys play against some of the young guys who are just trying to start their baseball careers. Girardi took it easy on the youngsters and only played the regulars for the first three innings.
The Yanks beat the Future Yanks, 9-6.
To me it was a little strange how they divided up the team. Some of the non-Yankees played on the Yankee team. I guess that was just the way to get everyone in; not all of them could play on the future team and they wanted every player to get some work in.
It wasn’t too torturous for them–the Yankees only scored three runs on them in the bottom of the first! Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher knocked in a combined five runs on the future Yanks, hopefully just a prequel of what they do tomorrow vs. the Red Sox.
Jonathan Albaladejo started for the future Yanks against Javier Vazquez, who made his final start before the regular season. Vazquez turned in a decent performance, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Not bad for Vazquez, but he could do a little better next week when he faces the Rays.
Some of the future stars intrigued me. For one, Melky Mesa. I could not believe I saw another player with the name Melky. I thought there was only one Melky, and he now plays for the Braves! He didn’t have a hit today, but I just like his name.
Along with Mesa, Slade Heathcott grabbed my attention. He is ranked as the third-best Yankee prospect by Baseball America, and he showed some great speed today. In his first at-bat, he beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and he was safe!
I also was taken back by Pat Venditte–the “switch pitcher.” He pitched in the top of the eighth inning and he gave up a run. It was just so strange how he kept changing his pitching hand; he would throw to right-handers with his left hand and pitch to left-handers with his right hand. (Although I do think he threw to one right-hander with his right hand)
You have to see him pitch for yourself to really get a feel for what he is about. His arm angle when pitching with his left hand is much different than when he throws righty. He seems to sidearm the ball when he throws left and almost flings it. But as a right-hander he throws much more conventional and overhand.
Not to mention his mitt. Venditte fashioned an “ambidextrous glove” (I guess you could call it?) so that he can pitch with both hands. It’s quite a sight to behold and unbelievably fascinating.
I hope we see Venditte in the future, but I do think he has a lot of work to do before being called up. He’s not quite ready to pitch to real major leaguers yet, but if he keeps at it and can find ways to get hitters out with his unique pitching style, he’ll make the show.
Overall, it was a fun game to watch today and a cool way to end spring training.
The Opening Day Roster
Most of the decisions made regarding the opening day, 25-man roster the Yankees will use didn’t shock me. Of course all of the regulars will be there; Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez….yeah, you get the idea.
I’m glad to see David Robertson will be in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. But if you ask me, Royce Ring deserves to be there, too. For the type of spring he had and his past Major League service, he should at least be given a chance.
Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, and Joba Chamberlain will also be in the ‘pen. But mark my words, if one of these guys is not cutting it, Ring is the right guy to plug into the spot. I watched him this past month, and I have to say, he did some fine work in Tampa.
Marcus Thames did not have the best spring, only averaging somewhere around .135 at the plate. But he hit three homers this spring and showcased more power than Randy Winn. Both players made the team. We’ll see how each one does during the season, but one of them could be used as trade bait.
Lastly, Ramiro Pena made the team as the extra infielder. I think this is the best move, I like Pena, and I hope he has a great year in the big leagues. He will be an asset to the club and I have a good feeling about him.
We have the team set, now we just have to find the chemistry.
The Series vs. Boston
I guess the schedule-maker this year had a malicious sense of irony, pitting the Yanks against the hated Red Sox on opening night. The Bombers and BoSox will play tomorrow, have a day off on Monday, and then play the next two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As mentioned before, it’s our number one vs. their number one tomorrow, meaning CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. A lot of people are quick to mention Sabathia’s tendency to start slow and not put up his best work until later on in the season.
In fact, many of my friends have told me the Yankees will probably lose tomorrow night.
Keep in mind, whenever the Yankees play Boston in Fenway, they are not just facing the Red Sox. They are facing Red Sox Nation. It’s hard for any team to play there because the fans are just unbelievably rowdy. It’s hard to win there.
We’ll see what happens on Opening Night. Anything can happen. We might see Sabathia pick up right where he left off last season–dominating everyone he faces. He didn’t have the best spring, but those numbers do not mean much. We won’t find out until tomorrow.
Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett will make the start against Jon Lester. We’ll have to wait and see which Burnett will show up–Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, hopefully Jekyll.
When Lester is on, he is one of the most brilliant left-handed pitchers in the American League. Burnett has to bring his best stuff and the offense has to bring their best mindset to win Tuesday.
Ending the series on Wednesday, Andy Pettitte will start against the Red Sox’ big off-season acquisition, John Lackey. Pettitte has done so well against the Boston over the years and last year was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against Boston.
Lackey, although many people think he has the Yanks’ number, has not done well against the Yankees historically. Just last year in the ALCS, Lackey was 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts. Lifetime vs. New York, he is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA and at Fenway Park he is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA.
Not very pretty, Mr. Lackey.
But I’m looking past all that. On paper, the Yanks have an advantage. But on paper is not going to win the game. It all depends on who plays better on that day. That’s all there is to it.
Look at it this way: even if the Yankees do not get off to the best start this year, it’s not the end of the world. They started slow last year, even going 0-8 in the first eight games vs. Boston. It worked out for them in the end.
Enjoy Opening night everyone! And have a Happy Easter.
A Mets fan dies, goes to Heaven, and is promised a palace to live in. The palace is said to be completely and totally decked out in Mets gear; pennants, posters, and pinups all bearing the orange and blue.
When the man arrived to Heaven, he noticed a castle all decked out in Yankee gear. He walks up to God and asks him about it.
“What is the deal? I thought you promised me a Mets house!”
God replies, “Oh the Yankee palace? That’s my house!”
My Uncle John Lakis told me this joke the day of my eighth grade graduation party.
Sadly, my uncle passed away yesterday afternoon. He was one of the greatest Yankee fans I knew and more importantly one of the nicest people I knew. He had a kind heart, loved his family with all his heart, and had such a wonderful and infectious personality.
I had the pleasure of working for him over the summer of 2005. We shared many conversations about the Bronx Bombers, politics, and my future goals. He always seemed interested in what I had to say and I always enjoyed and cherished his company.
My Uncle John once told me a story about how he would (occasionally) go to school for half a day and leave in the afternoons to go to Yankee Stadium. He and his friends would get to the ballpark and buy cheap bleacher seats. Then they would spend the rest of the afternoon watching the Yanks win from the grand stands.
It’s funny that he told me that story. Just recently, my journalism mentor has been telling me to enjoy myself and not always be so cautious and tense. In his own words he told me, “get in trouble once in awhile.”
It’s good to know that my uncle had the mentality of having fun. I think he was trying to teach me that by sharing that story with me. Ditching school for a Yankee game is something I have done in the past year, so in a way I think he would be proud of me.
I guess you have to break the rules sometimes.
His son, my cousin Thomas (who is also a HUGE Yankee fan), won tickets to a Yankees vs. Braves game back in 2006. June 27 was the day of the game. Tommy had won excellent seats; in fact they were in a luxury box in the loge tier. I had never sat in a luxury box at a Yankee game (or any sporting event, for that matter) and I haven’t since.
I remember talking to my Uncle John about how strange it felt to be sitting there. He remarked by saying that “it just didn’t feel like a real game,” since there were HD televisions in the suite. I’ll admit, the TVs made it feel strange, but so did the atmosphere. There were other people in the box–business men–who spoke about their business trips and work lives.
One of them even made a comment, mentioning how when he had gone to Chicago a few weeks prior, he saw Andy Pettitte pitch. I can only assume the White Sox were hosting the Astros in a 2005 World Series rematch.
As for the Yankees, it was not their night. The Braves handed them a 5-2 loss. Really the only notable highlight of the game was a home run in the ninth inning from Melky Cabrera. It’s kind of ironic when I think about it, now that he plays for the Braves.
But we had a much better day the very next month.
On July 15, 2006, my other cousin Krystina gave me tickets to a game vs. the White Sox. These were excellent seats; right on the third baseline, practically right behind the White Sox’ dugout. I invited my Uncle John, Tommy, and my cousin Gordon. We all had a “boys day” and traveled down to the Bronx for the game.
And it was a GREAT day to be a Yankee fan!
Mike Mussina made the start against the soon-to-be-perfect Mark Buehrle. He may have tossed a no-no the next year in 2007 and a perfecto in ’09, but the Yankees tore Buehrle apart the day we saw him pitch. They hit him very hard, chasing him from the game after just three innings of work.
Mussina on the other hand was brilliant tossing a quality start and later registering the win. Moose gave up just three runs on eight hits, issuing one walk and fanning five along the way. Let’s just say Mussina was Mussina that day.
(Of all Yankees) Bubba Crosby and Andy Phillips smacked home runs that day–if you even remember who they are. The youngsters may have gone deep, but Derek Jeter, my Uncle John’s favorite player, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
The Yankees won in a squadoosh, 14-3. My Uncle John was very happy.
What I also loved about the game we all attended vs. the White Sox was the giveaway. The U.S. Postal Service issued collectible stamps of old-time baseball players. We received four stamps. The first bore the image of Mickey Mantle, the second was Mel Ott, the third Roy Campanella, and finally Hank Greenberg.
In fact, each player was represented at a ceremony behind home plate before first pitch. I can’t remember who represented who, but I do know that Mantle’s sons were there, which was pretty special. Now whenever I look at my stamps, I will always think of my uncle.
This past Christmas was the last time I saw my uncle. He pulled me aside and talked to me about possibly going to Florida this spring to see the Yankees work out in Tampa. I am about to graduate college and everyone’s schedules have been too messy, so we obviously were not able to go. He wanted to take me and his boys.
It was something he had wanted to do for awhile, but we never got to do it.
I am going to miss him very much. He was a great boss, a great teacher, an avid and intelligent Yankee fan, and overall a wonderful person. I will not forget him for everything he did for me and I will always remember the great times I had with him.
Uncle John, I wish you peace. We all love you and we will not forget you.
And I’d like to add that Heaven just received a great Yankee fan and a great man.
“I am the resurrection and the life, says the
Lord. Whoever believes in me, even though they
die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes
in me will never die.”–John 11:25-26
What’s up Yankee fans?
The date is February 15, 2010.
As for news around the sports world, the NFL Super Bowl is over. The great Peyton Manning fell to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in what was (in my opinion) the best Super Bowl game since the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The winter Olympics are in full swing in Vancouver and at press time the U.S.A. has claimed six medals.
The NBA is at their All-Star point and Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks became the only player in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest three times.
And last but never-the-least, MLB pitchers and catchers report to camp this week. We now know that baseball is almost back. Almost back, but we’re not quite there yet.
The Yankees obviously made a number of moves in the off season, bidding farewell to players like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, and Chien-Ming Wang.
But they welcomed in new (and old) players like Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson.
Some of these moves haven’t been very popular among Yankee fans, but it remains to be seen how these players will perform. The best time to find out how well each player might do in the season is obviously in spring training.
With that being said, here are my five players to keep an eye on in March:
5) Javier Vazquez
At first, I was completely against the Javier Vazquez deal and part of me still is. I never liked him during his first stint with the Yankees in 2004. The only lasting image I have of him was that meatball he served up that Johnny Damon clobbered for a grand slam in the 2004 ALCS–a bomb that solidified the Yankees’ Game Seven collapse.
But I suppose I’ll give him a second chance as the number four starter in 2010.
Everyone keeps talking about how Vazquez had a very low ERA these past few seasons, so who knows. He may surprise us. After all, I thought Hideki Matsui was going to have a horrible season in 2009. He went on to win the World Series MVP.
I have decided to give Vazquez until July 15–if he has decent numbers then, I’ll approve of the trade. But if he is basically hanging on by a thread with an inflated ERA and a record of .500, then I’ll stand by my initial thought: what are the Yankees thinking?!
I realize the Vazquez trade was a panic move to counter the Red Sox signing John Lackey. But the Yanks could have figured out another way to get a pitcher without having to give up a promising outfielder (Cabrera) for a one-year rental (Vazquez).
We’ll see how he does. But without question, he’ll be under the microscope in Tampa.
4) Jesus Montero
I have heard a lot of great things about this kid. I get the feeling he’ll one day be a star, but he’s just too young right now. Nonetheless, non-roster invitee Jesus Montero will be a player to watch this spring.
At 20 years old, Montero has been named the Yanks’ best prospect and the fifth best player by Baseball America. In his 2008 minor league season with the Charleston River Dogs, Montero batted .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs. He only stole two bases, but hey…he’s a catcher, we cannot expect a ton of steals from him.
The highest level he’s played at is AA Trenton Thunder, but mark my words; he’ll probably make it to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010.
With Jose Molina leaving the Yankees, it’ll most likely be Francisco Cervelli backing up Jorge Posada. So in all likelihood, we won’t see Montero in the show this year. In 2011, he’ll more than likely be on the Major League squad.
But Montero will undoubtedly be on the field this spring. This is his chance to show Yankee Universe what he’s made of and for us to get a feel for what he is about.
3) Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner has given the Yankees something they haven’t had in recent times–speed. And I’m not talking about just a decent pair of wheels. I’m talking the Flash/Sonic the Hedgehog type horse power here.
I mean, if he sprinted on the highway, he’d probably get a speeding ticket.
Gardner has also offered a great deal of defense in the outfield. With the departure of Melky Cabrera, the Yankees are obviously putting a lot of stock in him. Gardner can run and he can play some unbelievable defense. But he needs to get on base and become a better offensive player.
In 2009, Gardner had 67 hits in 248 at-bats, which translates to a .270 average–not too shabby. He drew 26 walks and stole 26 bases, which again, are decent stats.
But centerfield is a position that requires power; you need to have some pop coming from that spot on the field. Gardner only hit three home runs last year, two of which left the park (and yes, it was pretty sweet watching that inside-the-park home run on May 15…it was even sweeter because I saw it in-person!)
This spring, the Yankees will be trying out a number of different outfielders. There’s even talk that if Gardner is good enough, recent acquisition Curtis Granderson might play left field and Gardner will man center.
Well, that scenario remains to be seen, but in any event, Gardner has to take his game up to the next level. We’ll see how he responds next month.
2) Robinson Cano
Boy has this young man come a long way. I can remember the day he was called up to the big leagues in 2005 and how nervous he looked. He would make frequent errors and he looked so uneasy at the plate.
But Robinson Cano worked his game up to a Major League level, finishing in the top three in the 2006 batting title race. He was even compared to the incomparable Rod Carew. And from there, the rest is basically history. In my opinion, he’s unlike any other second baseman in the American League–and that’s a good thing.
He plays defense so well, gliding across the infield and making spectacular plays. I still believe he should have won a Gold Glove Award this past year. His hitting has certainly improved, as well. In 2009 he set a career-high in home runs with 25 and averaged .320 at the dish.
I have to say, of the younger players who are currently on the Yankees, Cano is my favorite. You can mention Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and all the legendary players of the so-called “core four,” but (for me) Cano has been the most exciting Yankee these past couple of seasons.
But some philosophize that Cano only performed so well for so long because of the presence of his best friend Melky Cabrera. The two became bosom buddies in 2007 and since then, both have played very well in each other’s friendship.
But Cabrera is now an Atlanta Brave and Cano is on his own.
I am anxious to see how Cano is going to perform in the absence of his best friend. I still feel he can play the same way he has these last few years. However, the only minor concern I have is how Cano played in 2008 without Cabrera; when his buddy was sent down to the minors because of a nasty slump, Cano struggled a little bit and fell into a funk of his own.
Hopefully nothing like that will happen to him this upcoming year. But if Cano gets off to a slow start and cannot find his rhythm, I might have to side with those philosophers.
1) Joba Chamberlain
It’s no secret that Joba Chamberlain had a rough 2009. It started back when he was arrested for a DUI after the 2008 campaign. Then he was put back on the “Joba Rules,” only being allowed to toss a certain amount of innings according to the Yankees’ discretion.
He had some forgetful starts and some brilliant starts in ’09, posting a record of 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. If that wasn’t enough, the 24 year-old flamethrower was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs and World Series as the Bronx Bombers chose to go with a three-man rotation. In relief, he posted an ERA of 2.84 and was 1-0 with one save and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Not too bad, if you ask me. Chamberlain seems to excel when he knows his role.
There’s a lot of speculation on which pitcher will land the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Chamberlain seems to be the logical choice, unless they either opt to pull Phil Hughes from his spot in the bullpen or allow Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin the opportunity.
It all depends on who is performing at the highest level in spring training. If we see Chamberlain in a dominant form next month, it could be him. But if he is going to be that fifth pitcher, the Yankees NEED to take him off the “Joba Rules.”
Chamberlain will have his growing pains, all young players do. But if they do not take the leash off, the only thing he’ll ever be is a caged animal.
I understand that the Yankees are not trying to wreck his arm because it’s happened to too many young pitchers (Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez…etc.) But the Yanks should not tell him exactly how many innings they want him to throw. I think that can upset the balance of his psyche.
So who will be that fifth starter? We’ll know when we see what they all bring to Tampa.
On my Yankee Yapping Facebook page, I noticed that I am closing in on 500 fans. The number 500 is pretty high and it takes a baseball player a long time to reach that number, especially in terms of home runs.
On August 4, 2007, Alex Rodriguez became the first Yankee player to reach 500 home runs since Mickey Mantle, who slammed his 500th long ball on May 14, 1967. The current Yankee third baseman became only the third player to hit his 500th career homer in a Yankee uniform, of course joining Mantle and the legendary Babe Ruth.
A-Rod, Mantle, and Ruth are now in the record books and are pretty much considered to be three of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history.
But Rodriguez’s 500th home run could not have come at a worse time. For me.
The day after A-Rod left the yard for the 500th time I went to the Yankees vs. Royals game. I’ve always said (and still say it to this day) that I wished he had waited one day. By about 24 hours, I missed a moment in Yankee history.
Two of my cousins had four tickets to the game and invited my sister and me to go with them to Yankee Stadium. We had excellent seats; we sat on the main level on the third baseline, practically right behind the Royals’ dugout. We had such a wonderful view of the field!
Then-manager Joe Torre (sort of) rested Rodriguez the day after he reached 500. Before he hit the big homer, A-Rod had been struggling immensely at the plate. He waited eight days and 28 at-bats to hit the elusive 500, but he eventually got a hold of one and accomplished the feat.
So on Aug. 5, A-Rod started at the designated hitter position while Wilson Betemit played third. As Torre used to say, A-Rod had “half a day off.”
The Yankees jumped on the Royals early, scoring four runs on the second inning. Melky Cabrera singled to score his buddy Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Betemit, and Bobby Abreu singled to score Andy Phillips and Cabrera to put to the Yanks ahead, 4-0.
In the bottom of the third, Hideki Matsui launched a solo home run into the right field porch, giving the Yanks a 5-0 lead. What some people may not know was that home run was Matsui’s 100th career home run as a member of the Yankees (and in Major League Baseball in general).
So even though I missed A-Rod’s 500th homer by one day, I saw Matsui’s 100th homer in-person, the day it happened.
In the bottom of the fourth, Rodriguez stepped up to the plate. He received a thunderous ovation for what he had done the day before and almost every Yankee fan was on their feet cheering and chanting, “501! 501! 501!”
Although he wasn’t able to smash yet another homer, A-Rod drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to deep left-center field to score Jeter, giving the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
Kansas City finally broke out and scored in the top of the sixth when Ross Gload belted a long, two-run home run into the upper deck in right field off Mike Mussina. His home run went a long way, and I mean a long way. I’m not sure if that ball has landed yet. Just watching that ball fly out of the park and into the upper deck was pretty amazing, even though it was for the opposing team.
But the Yankees would get those runs back in the bottom of the frame.
Cabrera hit a solo home run to right field, a screaming line drive that just cleared the right field wall. Yankees were now on top, 7-2. I didn’t notice at the time (and I didn’t find out until I watched Sportscenter after I got home) but the same person who caught Matsui’s home run ball caught Cabrera’s.
That’s one lucky fan; he caught two home run balls by two Yankees in the same game. After I heard that, I wished my seats were behind the wall instead of behind the dugout!
Later in the sixth, Matsui drive in another run with a sacrifice fly to score Jeter, putting the Yankees ahead, 8-2. It seemed the Yankees were doing everything right, but the Royals did not go down without a fight.
Mark Teahen singled off side-winding reliever Mike Myers to score David DeJesus in the top of the seventh and on the same play Esteban German scored on a throwing error by Cabrera, cutting the lead to 8-4.
Myers gave up yet another run in the top of the eighth, surrendering an RBI single to Joey Gathright that scored John Buck. All of a sudden the Royals were down by only three runs. Uh oh…
Replacing Myers was the great one, Mariano Rivera. The Yankees’ ace closer was summoned to record a four-out save. As Enter Sandman blared through the Yankee Stadium speakers, I noticed a sign someone in front of me was holding up. It read:
“1977 The Bronx is Burning. 2007 The Yanks are on Fire!”
Very clever sign.
It was the truth; right around that time the Yankees were on their run to the Wild Card title in a season that looked hopeless. The Yankees had no business even being considered for the playoffs toward the beginning of the year, but they picked up their game over the summer and earned the Wild Card spot, basically on the shoulders of Rodriguez.
I still believe that if A-Rod had not been as good as he was, the Yankees never would have made the playoffs. He undoubtedly carried them to into the postseason.
Three groundouts and a strikeout later, Rivera notched the save and procured an 8-5 Yankee win over the Royals. It was a good day to be at the ballpark and a good day to be a Yankee fan.
Win Mussina, loss Gil Meche, save Rivera. Win A.J. Martelli. My sister, my cousins and I smiled as we listened to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York as we filed out of the turnstiles.
Any day the Yankees win, it’s a good day.
I had a lot of fun that day, I only wish Rodriguez had not hit the big home run the day before. Although seeing Matsui hit his 100th career home run was exciting, it would have been nice to see A-Rod’s 500th. The whole team came out of the dugout to congratulate him and you could just tell it was a special and historic moment.
Some of the Yankees have said that Rodriguez’s milestone homer was their favorite memory in the old Stadium and to be there for it would have been amazing. Missing it by one day fills my heart with regret and I still wished he had gotten that one pitch to hit just 24 hours later.
The bottom line, however: 500 is a big number. And to have almost 500 fans on the page for this blog is pretty neat. Thank you all for reading and I hope it continues to grow!
We did it…I…I really don’t even know what to say. I am truly speechless.
The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-3 in Game Six of the World Series to capture their 27th World Championship. A wonderful, strong, winning season capped off with a World Title in the first year in our new ballpark.
What a wonderful, wonderful feeling. A feeling we all haven’t had since 2000.
I had been saying from the beginning of the fall classic that the Yankees were probably going to win in six games. Now, I don’t usually like to make predictions, as I have said before, but that was my best guess: Yankees in six.
But let me tell you all a true, almost scary story before Game Six.
I am a senior in College at this point in my life, obviously studying journalism. I attended my sports reporting class last night, mostly discussing the World Series with my fellow students and my professor. Well, after an interesting discussion, class ended.
I got in my car and made my way home to watch the World Series. As I’m driving on the highway, I notice a school bus in front of me. As most of you may or may not remember, all school buses are numbered, all numbers on the back of the bus.
Of all the numbers that there could’ve been, what number was the bus? 27. I am not lying and I am dead serious. 27, right in front of me for quite a few miles up the Taconic State Parkway in New York.
Coincidence? I didn’t think so. This eerie feeling came over me as I was driving; chills went up and down my spine. One thought popped into my mind: “The Yankees are going to do it. I know it. There’s a reason that bus was in front of me.”
When I got home, I just smiled and laughed. The game hadn’t even started yet, but I knew what was going to happen; maybe not the score, maybe not every specific detail, but I swear to God I KNEW the Yankees were NOT losing this game!!!
So eventually the game began and…well…I guess the only way to describe it was the “Hideki Matsui Hitting Show.”
Godzilla knocked in six RBIs in game six, two of which came on a two-run homer in the bottom of the second off the Yankees’ favorite son Pedro Martinez. It was Matsui’s third home run in the World Series and second that came off Martinez.
But Matsui was just getting warmed up.
In the next inning, Godzilla singled to knock in Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon and in the fifth he doubled to score Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. No one could get Matsui out, it seemed.
And for his efforts in this entire World Series, Matsui was named Most Valuable Player. He deserved it. Three Homers, a .747 batting average, and six RBIs in the clinching game. Yes, I’d say that’s MVP worthy. Domo Arigato, Mr. Matsui!
Congrats Godzilla! (Remember, he also won another prestigious award–the Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of the Year Award!)
Teixeira was responsible for the only other RBI not registered by Matsui, as he singled in the fifth to score Jeter.
And who else was on the mound to close it out but Andy Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history. Everyone was concerned because Pettitte was pitching on three days rest for this first time since 2006, but those concerns were not well-founded. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell the difference.
The veteran lefty pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits. He walked five and struck out three. His line may not have indicated an overly impressive start, but I think he did great and gave the Bronx Bombers a good chance to win.
And they did, like they usually always do when he pitches. I mean, Pettitte was the winning pitcher when they’ve clinched the ALDS and ALCS this year…what’s one more?
The Phillies scored two of their three runs on an opposite-field homer run by Ryan Howard in the top of the sixth, his first home run in the World Series.
Sorry to say, but too little, too late, Howard.
Jimmy Rollins, who erroneously predicted the Phillies to win the fall classic in five games (and is probably eating his words right now) knocked in the Phillies’ first run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third.
Well, thanks to some solid bullpen help from Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, the Yankees bridged the gap to Mariano Rivera, who came in to get five outs.
Did he get all five of them? Of course he did! And the Yankees are Champs again!!!
The team dog pile on the infield, a victory lap around the field proudly waving the 2009 Championship flag, and hoisting the Championship Trophy. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
I laughed. I cried. I jumped up and down. My heart overjoyed, my fists pumping in the air. I got that feeling; the feeling that comes over a man when he gets exactly what he desires. My phone was blowing up; calls, texts, people clicking the like button on my Facebook status, which read:
A.J. Martelli is in tears of joy :’) THE YANKEES ARE KINGS OF BASEBALL!!!! 27!!!!! “WEEEEEE AREE THE CHAMPIONS, MY FRIEND! WE’LL KEEP ON FIGHTIN’ TILL THE END! NO TIME FOR LOSERS, ‘CAUSE WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS…OF THE WORLD!!!” 2009 was the Year of the Pinstripes. In a perfect world we’d ALL be Yankees! I am so proud of my team. SO proud. It was destiNYY.
Stephen, an old friend of mine from grade school, posted as his status:
“Time for every person in New York to jump on the Yankee bandwagon and say ‘my boys did it.’ I think the only person who has any right to say anything about it is A.J. Martelli. He posts about every game because he lives in blue and white. I hope he gets to see this.”
Oh, I did see it. And it made me feel great, because it is true. Then I turned to my 26 Time World Series jacket, which is now obselete. “Guess I’ll need a new one,” I said with a laugh.
What a way to end this year!
Another thing I’d like to point out was the date. It was on Nov. 4, 2001 that the Yankees’ World Series magic vanished in the Arizona desert. The last night of the Yankee Dynasty of the late ’90s. Since that night, the Yanks had not won a World Title.
That is of course until Nov. 4, 2009. Perhaps the first night of the new Yankee Dynasty.
There was something strange about this night. Seeing that bus with 27 on it, watching Matsui practically single-handedly crush the Phillies’ dreams of repeating as Champions, and winning the title back on the same exact date we lost it nine years ago.
And even the fact that 2009 was the new Yankee Stadium’s first year, and when the original Stadium opened back in 1923, the Yankees won the World Series for the first time.
Not to mention, I checked the Yankee Yapping Facebook fan page to update the status…and at the time the Yankees won the Championship, there were precisely 400…and 27 fans.
Forces were at work, I believe that. This night happened for a reason. There ARE baseball gods and they were working tonight.
It has been a remarkable year; the year of the Yankees. 103 wins during the regular season, 114 overall…this was the only way to end it.
I would like to thank everyone who read my blog, there will be plenty more entries over the off-season, I promise you that. For right now, I would like everyone to ENJOY this!!! A World Series victory was the goal and our team reached it.
I’d also like to thank the 2009 Yankees for the season of a lifetime. I’m sure there will be many people (myself included) who will write about the ’09 Yankees. They are certainly a group of special players, and at one time (in June) I even described them as a “group of warriors that never quit.”
They are warriors and they never did quit. They took it all the way.
It’s been one hell of a ride, my friends. Thanks to all!
GO YANKEES!!! We made it to 27 and victory is ours!!!
I am beginning to think the Yankees just cannot be beaten in a close, late-game situation.
The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-4 in the ninth inning of game four of the World Series Sunday night with a miraculous, two-out rally.
The word of the 2009 postseason was once again used by me: “WOW.”
With the game knotted at four and two outs in the top half of the ninth, Johnny Damon worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge, ending in a two-out single by the Yankees’ left fielder. Damon promptly stole second base and with all his wits about him, took third.
With Mark Teixeira batting and the Phillies playing the infield over-shift, nobody was covering third base. After swiping second, Damon just got up and took third while he was at it.
Then Teixeira was hit with a pitch, bringing up the new “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.
Now I have to admit, my heart was racing at this point. When I was watching, I thought I would need resuscitation after watching what was about to happen. A-Rod in another clutch situation…what was going to happen?
Rodriguez delivered, that’s what happened. The Yankee third baseman came up with a double to score Damon, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
Jorge Posada came up next with Teixeira on third and A-Rod on second, hitting a two-run single to give the Bronx Bombers their seven runs and pad the Yankee lead. Posada also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, which gave him a total of three RBIs in the game.
I have to give Damon all the credit in the world; to work the count and come up with a hit in that pressurized situation with the crowd rocking the way it was, and on top of that steal two bases at once and then score–that was such brilliance. He certainly took charge of the situation and showcased the mental facet of his game.
Not to mention he went 3-for-5 on the night with a double in the first and an RBI single in the top of the fifth. Damon came up and knocked in Melky Cabrera, which gave the Yanks a 4-2 lead.
Derek Jeter also knocked in a run with an RBI single in the fifth that broke the 2-2 tie coming into the frame.
CC Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees tonight, pitching on three days rest for the second time this postseason. The big man pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six.
I have to give Sabathia credit; he tossed a quality start. But he has clearly seemed a bit shaken in the World Series. His body language and his demeanor (to me) indicate that he might have been a little shaken these past two starts on the stage of the World Series. His numbers are still good, but he looks a little off. It’s not physical (again, to me) it could be mental.
Maybe it’s just Chase Utley, who took Sabathia deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. That was Utley’s third World Series homer, and he has smacked all three of his homers off Sabathia.
Utley also doubled in the bottom of the first, a hit that scored Shane Victorino to put the Phillies on the board for the first time in the game.
It seems Utley has Sabathia’s number. That’s pretty much a fact at this point.
Pedro Feliz provided the rest of the offense for the Phils in game four. Not only did Feliz tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to score Ryan Howard, he homered off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Well, I probably shouldn’t say Feliz knocked Howard in to tie the game in the fourth. Replay showed that Howard never even touched home plate, yet the umpire called him safe. I guess we’re just looking the other way on that one…
Utley and Feliz saw some meatballs and took advantage. But I guess it didn’t matter; the Yankees were more clutch and got the job done. Mariano Rivera came in and saved the day yet again, Yankees win.
It was another nail-biter, another ninth inning win. But I’ll take it; Yankees up, 3-1.
I also want to point out how ridiculous the Phillies have been pitching to A-Rod. In the first inning, Rodriguez was hit with a pitch, the third time in the last two games he’s been beaned. The benches were warned after the HBP, but nothing came of it.
They may have hit A-Rod in the first…but he hit back in the ninth.
Rodriguez now has 15 RBIs this postseason, which ties the Yankees’ single postseason record. A-Rod is knotted with Scott Brosius in 1998 and Bernie Williams in 1996. Remember that Rodriguez is also tied with Williams for most home runs in a single postseason with six.
Facing elimination, Cliff Lee will hope the keep the Phillies alive tonight. He was dominant in game one at Yankee Stadium, tossing all nine innings without allowing an earned run.
Lee will face A.J. Burnett, who was just as dominant in game two. Burnett tossed seven innings and gave up only one earned run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Burnett will be throwing on three days rest for the fifth time in his career. On three days rest, Burnett’s numbers are stellar. He is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA on short rest, so we’ll see how he responds following that amazing outing in game two.
Honestly, if Burnett can go out there and do anything close to what he did in game two and if he can capture the win in the clinching game…I hate to even make picks or even predict things (because I am usually wrong) but he would make a strong case for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
I have to say, at this moment it would be Rivera; if the Series ended tonight, I think Mo would be the MVP. But if Burnett can mimic what he did in game two, he certainly has a chance at the award. He won a pivotal game two–a game the Yankees said they needed to win after losing game one the way they did.
And if Burnett wins the final game…well, the work and evidence of an MVP is right there.
But like I said, I’m not calling it; I don’t make predictions. I can’t even predict the weather, much less which player may or may not win the MVP of the World Series!
Well guys, the Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series Title. It’s almost sad to see this season end, but we’re not done yet. ONE MORE WIN and we are World Champions!!!
I’ll be back after game five with some highlights, thoughts, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it….anywhere.”
Well, it may not have been as dramatic as 2003, when Aaron Boone slaughtered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series to beat the Red Sox, but I’ll take it.
Last night, the New York Yankees clinched the American League pennant by defeating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game Six of the ALCS and will now make their 40th World Series appearance.
For the first time in six years, we Yankee fans know what it’s like to be going to the fall classic. And it feels WONDERFUL!
As for ALCS Game Six…
Well, Yanks’ starter Andy Pettitte looked awesome in the first two innings, but ran into some trouble in the top of the third. Ex-Yankee Bobby Abreu knocked in the Angels’ first run in the frame with an RBI single to give the Halos a quick, 1-0 lead.
I loved Abreu when he was a Yankee (and I still love him) for that reason; in a key situation when the team needed a run, he could always deliver. And that hasn’t changed. Abreu is still one of the best timely hitters in the league and he showed it in the third inning of Game Six.
He could never play the wall very well, but I still think Abreu was probably the best right fielder the Yankees had since Paul O’Neill. I still love you, Bobby.
The Angels’ 1-0 lead didn’t last very long as the Yankees came storming back in the bottom of the fourth. (Now to be honest, I didn’t think the game was moving along nicely and up until the fourth really was not a good game. I actually turned the Giants/Cardinals game on for a little while (which didn’t end well) but eventually made my way back to the Yankees)
The Yankees had been leaving runners on base through the first three innings, but finally stopped it and broke through. With the bases loaded, Johnny Damon pounded out a two-run single to put the Yanks’ ahead.
Later in the frame, Alex Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk to score Derek Jeter, giving the Yankees a 3-1 cushion.
Pettitte cruised throughout the rest of the game, finishing the night with a quality start: 6 1/3 innings, one earned run on seven hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Typical for Pettitte, who is probably the Yankees’ best big-game pitcher. He has given the Yankees length and quality in each of his three postseason starts.
Joba Chamberlain also lent a hand, tossing 2/3 of an inning after Pettitte departed without allowing a run. I have to say, Chamberlain has not been bad this postseason, save for Game Three when he gave up the go-ahead run, but other than that, he has been solid.
Joe Girardi was not messing around, however; in the eighth inning, he called on Mariano Rivera to get a six out save. In my opinion, it was probably the best thing to do. There might be some fans that disagree, but a two-run lead against the Angels in an elimination game…he had to go to Mo.
Girardi had taken so much heat for the pitching decisions he made in games three and five (three when he took David Robertson out for Alfredo Aceves; five when he left A.J. Burnett in after a leadoff single in the seventh inning with a two-run lead) so really he had to do it.
The Sandman actually scuffled a little bit in the eighth, much to my surprise. Rivera gave up a run on an RBI by Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2 in the middle of the eighth.
But some costly errors by the Angels (Howie Kendrick dropped a ball on a bunt by Nick Swisher and Scott Kazmir lobbed the ball over the head of Kendrick on yet another bunt by Melky Cabrera) allowed the Yanks to plate three more runs, holding a 5-2 lead over the Angels going into the top of the ninth.
Down by three runs, top of the ninth, facing Rivera…you pretty much do not stand a chance. See you next year, Angels.
Rivera mowed down the Halos in the ninth and the Yankees celebrated their 40th pennant. The happiest feeling a team and their fans can have, other than winning the World Series.
Champagne spraying, glee on the faces of the Yankees, happiness, and a pennant. A great way to end the ALCS.
The ALCS at a Glance
The Yankees’ 2009 ALCS win marks the 40th time they have won the pennant. The Yankees have made it to the World Series more than any other team in baseball. The Dodgers have the second-most World Series appearances, reaching the fall classic 21 times.
With their ALCS win, the Yankees have finally gotten past the Angels, who had beaten and eliminated them in the playoffs twice before (2002 and 2005–both of those were in the ALDS, however)
Andy Pettitte captured his 16th playoff victory in Game Six. He is now the all-time postseason wins leader, breaking the tie of 15 with John Smoltz.
Pettitte also has the most playoff innings pitched, tossing a mind-boggling 237 1/3 innings. Smoltz is also second to Pettitte on that list with 209 innings pitched.
With the Game Six win, Pettitte has now pitched in five games which have given the Yankees a postseason series victory. That sets a new record and he is of course in first place in postseason wins (16) starts (38) and innings (237 1/3)
CC Sabathia won the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award for his record of 2-0, ERA of 1.13 and his 12 strikeouts in the 16 innings he pitched in the final round before the World Series.
The Yankee ace only allowed nine hits over those 16 innings pitched and just three walks. The Bronx Bombers have won all three of Sabathia’s playoff starts.
Sabathia is the first MVP of the ALCS since Mariano Rivera, who earned the honor in 2003. Game Six winning pitcher (Pettitte) won the award in 2001.
The last time the Yankees won a Game Six of a championship series was in 2000 when they defeated the Seattle Mariners in Game Six of the ALCS.
The Angels committed nine errors in the ALCS. The Yankees committed three.
The Yankees outscored the Angels 33-19 in the championship round.
Alex Rodriguez had nine hits in the ALCS, including three home runs. Overall this postseason, he has 14 hits, five homers, and 12 RBIs.
This will be Rodriguez’s first career World Series appearance.
Rivera now has 37 career postseason saves, which is of course the most by any closer all-time. (I think it’s safe to say Mo has put the record so far out of reach no one is going to be able to look up at it, let alone break it!)
Rivera did give up a run in the eighth inning of Game Six–that marked the first time he has given up a postseason run at home since the 2000 World Series.
Well, Yankee fans. It has been an incredible season. From steroid scandals and spring training to the 22-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians in April; from walk-off wins, winning streaks, and pies in the face all the way through the glorious, victorious summer months.
The Yankees turned the dog days into days where the beat other teams like dogs.
From winning the AL East in front of the Red Sox at home to winning the AL Pennant in front the Angels at home. It has been a wild ride.
And it’s not over yet!
The Phillies present a huge challenge to the Yankees in the World Series. They are the best-of-the-best in the National League and they certainly aren’t a pushover. They have a potent lineup, with players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth.
It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully it will be fun.
The Yankees did play the Phillies during inter-league play this year, losing two out of three to their World Series opponents May 22-24.
The Phils beat the Yanks 7-3 in the first game, but the Yankees edged them in game two with a dramatic comeback and a 5-4 walk-off win. Game three belonged to the Phillies, as they won 4-3, but the Yanks put up a good fight in that game; they tied the score when it looked like they had no chance.
The last time the Yankees and Phillies met in the World Series, the year was 1950. The outcome? The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.
While I don’t think it will be a clean sweep in 2009, I have a good feeling the Yankees will win. I could picture the Yankees accomplishing something similar to what they did in the ALCS; possibly winning it all in six games.
The Yankees have a totally different team this year than they did the last time they reached the World Series in 2003. In fact, most of the players from the ’03 squad are gone and some are even retired!
The 2003 ALCS was our World Series that year. I really think the Yankees were so exhausted from those marathon games (and maybe the physicality and fight) with Boston and having the ALCS go to seven games that they didn’t stand a chance in World Series vs. the Florida Marlins.
The pitchers were worn out, the hitters were flat–2003 was not our year. But 2009…well, it could very well be our year, no questions asked.
Whatever the case, things are looking up on this day and it is a beautiful day to be a Yankee fan. I am so proud and my heart is overjoyed that my team has reached the World Series and we may very well be the last team standing…
I will be back after Game One of the World Series with some thoughts, highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
By the way: Let’s do some real damage…! (No Phanatics were hurt in the making of this blog)
Why oh why? That was all I could say after today’s game.
In another nail-biting ALCS game, the Angels beat the Yankees 5-4 in 11 innings. Not such a great day to be a Yankee fan, or me in general.
I’ll start with one of the most horrible decisions Joe Girardi has ever made. David Robertson was pitching FINE! WHY would he pull him for Alfredo Aceves??!!
Robertson made two quick outs in the frame, knocking Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales down first. Then, for no apparent reason, Girardi came out and pulled Robertson for Alfredo Aceves, the same pitcher who blew the lead in the 11th inning of game two.
What was he thinking?
Aceves gave up a single to Howie Kendrick and then the eventual game-winner to Jeff Mathis, who ripped a double to end the game.
Talk about a punch in the gut.
I know for me personally, this game hurt. I had a horrible day today and I wanted the Yankees to pick me up with a win. This morning I had seen an ex-girlfriend of mine (which didn’t make me happy) and later on during my ride home, another car almost hit me on the highway.
So for me, it was one of those “F.M.L. days.”
As for the good that came out of the day/game, I was pleased with a number of things the Yankees were able to do. First off, Derek Jeter. The Captain took Jered Weaver deep for a leadoff homer in the first inning, getting the Yankees off on the right foot.
It was Jeter’s 20th career postseason home run and he is now two behind Bernie Williams on the all-time postseason home runs list. The Captain is just doing his thing, that’s basically it. He knows how to perform when it matters and his leadoff homer was just another example of that.
And then there was Alex Rodriguez, who continued his assault on October with another home run in the top of the fourth. It was his fifth career home run off Weaver and his second homer in the ALCS.
A-Rod has been awesome; a clutch hitter and a player who is helping to carry the team.
Johnny Damon finally broke through with a postseason homer, crushing his first ’09 playoff home run in the fifth, again off Weaver. The homer gave the Yankees a 3-0 cushion.
Weaver was pulled after five innings because the Yankees hit him so hard; I had actually said, “The Yankees turned the dream Weaver into a nightmare.”
It made sense; they really gave him a hard time.
I was also happy with Andy Pettitte, who tossed a quality start for the second straight game. The lefty went 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Really he only made two mistakes, one to Kendrick and one to Vladimir Guerrero. Kendrick took Pettitte deep in the fifth while Vladdy touched him up in the sixth. Other than that, I was happy with his performance.
I also have to hand it to Mariano Rivera, who was like Houdini being able to escape a huge jam in the 10th inning. The Angels had the bases loaded and one out, but with some help from Mark Teixeira was able to get out of it unscathed.
Now…back to the bad.
As I noted before, Girardi’s decision just did not make any sense whatsoever. Robertson’s numbers against Kendrick were barely anything (1-for-2 lifetime with one strikeout) so why in the love of God would you pull him? Especially since Robertson made two quick outs.
It made no sense. What was he thinking? John Flaherty of the YES Network said “Girardi has some explaining to do.” He has got that right.
Another unfortunate occurrence for the Yankees was their caught stealing in the eighth. Brett Gardner came in to pinch-run for Hideki Matsui, but was thrown out by 11th inning’s hero Mathis. I have to hand it to the Angels–they had Gardner scouted and they executed a good play. It was just bad for us.
Jorge Posada came up next and smashed a solo home run. The Yankees could have had two runs on the round-tripper, but great job by Posada tying the game. It was a big time home run in a key situation and it kept the Yanks in the game.
Plus, that homer was Posada’s 11th career postseason long ball.
A lot of folks will probably be quick to destroy Joba Chamberlain, as he gave up the go-ahead run in the seventh. But in all fairness, Chamberlain had been very good in game two and in the ALDS, so I am not quick to jump on his back.
Phil Hughes gave up some runs in game two of the ALDS vs. the Twins and I don’t remember anyone jumping on him. So I will not blame Chamberlain for his hiccup. He gave up a run, it happens. Just hope it doesn’t happen much more.
I also have to point out Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera. Is it just me, or are these two really not doing much of anything?
In today’s game, Swisher left five men on base while Cabrera stranded seven. That’s not very productive if you ask me; both of their bats are just asleep and they need to wake up if the Yankees plan on winning.
Teixeira hasn’t been hitting either, he needs to break out of his slump (he was 0-for-3 today with two strikeouts) but at least he made up for it a little bit with his defense. Like I said, he helped Rivera of that precarious situation in the 10th with his D, but like Swisher and Cabrera, his bat needs to come alive.
Not to make it seem like I am bashing Swish, Melky and Tex; all three have done wondrous things this season to make the Yankee offense click. But when they aren’t clicking, the Yankees do not win.
There’s only so much Jeter and A-Rod can do.
Well, it’s difficult to win extra inning games on the road, and just as the Angels were victimized by it in game two, the Yankees were today. But that doesn’t mean the series is over for the Bronx Bombers.
Tomorrow night, the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound to pitch against Scott Kazmir. The Yankees’ ace will be starting on three days rest and it will be the first time he is taking the mound on three days rest this year.
I don’t think it will affect him; Sabathia has been so dominant all year, what’s another day of rest? I have a feeling he’ll go out and do as he’s been doing all year.
Well, it was a tough loss, but keep your heads up, Yankee fans. The series is not over. The way I see it, it’s only just begun. And the Yankees will still be playing with a lot of confidence tomorrow, especially with Sabathia on the hill.
I’ll be back after Game Four with more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Last night the Yankees jumped over yet another hurdle.
Before game one of the American League Championship Series, all we had been hearing about were CC Sabathia’s poor career numbers in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez’s inability to perform in the playoffs, and all of the Yankees’ struggles vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
But it didn’t matter to them.
The Yankees went about their business like they have been doing all year, beating the Halos 4-1 in game one of the ALCS.
Let’s start with the obvious: Sabathia pitched like a machine, dominating the Angels over eight strong innings of work. He allowed only one earned run on just four hits, walked one, and struck out seven.
Sabathia won game one of the ALDS and game one of the ALCS, becoming the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since Orlando Hernandez in 1999.
The Yankee ace now has 21 victories this year, combing both his regular season and postseason wins.
“That was a great feeling to have the Stadium rocking,” Sabathia told the media in the press conference after the win. “I don’t really show a lot of emotion, but it came out of me there.”
Before each of Sabathia’s eight strikeouts, the Yankee faithful would boisterously chant “CC,” and he also noted his appreciation for the fans’ overwhelming support.
“Eh, he did alright,” Derek Jeter modestly joked after the game when the media asked him what he thought of Sabathia’s performance.
Before his last two games, Sabathia was 2-3 in the postseason with a bloated 7.92 ERA. In his last two October starts, the big man is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Not to mention he has recorded 15 strikeouts in his last two games while only allowing one walk.
The Yankee ace seems to be rewriting his postseason history.
The only run Sabathia allowed was an RBI single off the bat of Kendry Morales which scored Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the fourth.
The Yankees on the other hand cashed in on the many mistakes the Angels made.
In the bottom of the first, the Yankees put a run on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez, jumping out to a 1-0 lead.
After game one of the ALCS, Rodriguez is now batting .462 this postseason with two homers and seven RBIs. How’s that for no production in October?
Then Hideki Matsui popped a fly ball toward the left side of the infield, almost right in between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar. The ball dropped right in between the two of them, allowing Johnny Damon to score, much to the disgust of Angels’ starter John Lackey.
Charge that an error on the Angels but neither player ever really called for the ball. It seemed as though both of them just expected the other guy to get it and in the end they both looked like a couple of deer in the headlights.
“I saw him standing there and I thought he was going to catch it,” Aybar told the press after the game. “There was no communication.”
Figgins said that one of them should have called for the ball, and it was an honest mistake by both players.
A costly mistake by the Angels, one of the three errors they would commit in the game. It’s strange; in all five games of the 2005 ALDS, the Halos only made one error. Last night they made three. It was not like them.
The Yankees would score their third run in the fifth, as Damon busted out of his 1-for-12 postseason slump and led off the inning with a double. After a walk to Rodriguez, Matsui drove in Damon with a base hit to left field.
Rodriguez would be put out, however, running through the stop sign set by third base coach Rob Thomson and getting nailed at home on a play at the plate.
The next inning, Melky Cabrera worked a walk and reached second on an errant pickoff throw from Lackey. Jeter then poked a sharp liner up the middle that got by Torii Hunter in centerfield, allowing Cabrera to score and it gave the Yankees their fourth run.
Charge two more errors on the Angels in the sixth.
In the ninth, who else but “The Hammer of God” (Mariano Rivera) came in and shut it down. After allowing a leadoff walk to Morales, Rivera got the last three outs in the ninth to wrap up game one and secure a Yankee win.
It marked Rivera’s 36 save in his postseason career, as he continues to further cement his postseason numbers. He is the all-time postseason saves leader with 36, and the guy behind him (Dennis Eckersley) has 15.
I’m pretty sure Rivera put that record so far out of reach that no other closer in baseball history will be able to touch it.
I also loved how Joe Girardi was joking around with the home plate umpire Tim McClelland when Rivera came into the game.
As Metallica’s Enter Sandman was blaring through the Yankee Stadium speakers, Girardi went out to inform the umps of the defensive changes (Damon came out of the game, Cabrera moved to left field, and Brett Gardner came in to play center field) and of course to let them know Rivera was coming in.
“It’s Rivera,” Girardi told the umpire.
“Who?” McClelland asked.
“Some new guy that just made it,” Girardi kidded.
“Oh, just got called up from Triple A, right?” McClelland joked.
I thought the banter between the two about Rivera was amusing. Everyone knows Rivera is probably the greatest closer in the history of the game, and for Girardi to kid around with the umpire the way he did, it was funny.
I think the Yankees may have set the tone for the ALCS with the win last night. Game one is extremely important to win and the Yankees went out into the “frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium” and did what they have done all year.
I also think the Yankees do not need to fear the Angels after last night. The Yankees know they can beat them when it matters. They have now won three of their last four vs. LA and if you count the final game of the regular season, the Yankees are on a five-game winning streak.
The Yanks have gone on these winning streaks all year, sometimes reaching eight or nine wins in a row. They only need seven more postseason wins to be called World Series Champions.
Tonight (if the weather holds out) the Yankees will play game two of the ALCS.
A.J. Burnett will make his second postseason start and face Angels’ left-hander Joe Saunders.
Both starters had respectable season records and pitched extraordinarily well during the regular season. Burnett went 13-9 while Saunders posted a record of 16-7.
In his last start on Oct. 9 in game two of the ALDS, Burnett went six innings and gave up one earned run on three hits. The walks were a little bit of an issue (he allowed five free passes) but he struck out six in a quality start.
Not only that, but Burnett beat the Angels the last time he faced them on Sept. 23, dominating them with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings while only allowing two runs.
Saunders did not pitch in the ALDS vs. Boston and has not thrown since Oct. 4 when he pitched five innings in Oakland. He does however pitch well in the cold weather, as he is a career 10-1 with a 2.51 ERA in April and 12-4 with a 4.31 ERA in September and October.
When you think about how long it has been since the Yankees have won a World Series, consider how long it’s been since they’ve won an ALCS game. Not since game three of the 2004 ALCS (beating the Red Sox 19-8) have the Yankees been victorious in a Championship game.
That seems like a lifetime ago; I was a senior in High School the last time the Yanks won an ALCS game. I am now a senior in College and they finally won another.
Well, hopefully the Yankees and Angels get their game in tonight. If the Bombers win game two, things will be looking very good for the Yankees. If they go up 2-0 and take the series to Anaheim, I think the Yankees just might be headed to the fall classic.
The 2009 Yankees do not seem like the type of team that would collapse if they go up by two games, especially if the Angels are going to see Sabathia twice more in the ALCS.
We’ll see what Burnett and the Bronx Bombers can do tonight. The Yankees have a rested bullpen, a confident offense, and a game one win under their belts already.
I’ll be back after game two with more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!