“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)
To borrow a line from Spike Lee: Joe Girardi, you did the right thing.
Before the New York Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankee skipper announced that Javier Vazquez would skip his next turn in the rotation. Vazquez’s next start would have come Friday night in Boston against the Red Sox but because of his inability to pitch effectively, he has been bumped.
With an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will start Phil Hughes on normal rest Friday in Vazquez’s place. They will then use CC Sabathia on Saturday afternoon and pitch A.J. Burnett on Sunday night.
Heading to Detroit after the series in Boston, Vazquez will make his next start on Monday night against the Tigers.
Vazquez has only made one start this season that has been worth anything. On April 20 he notched his only win of 2010, a game in which he scattered six hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings of work against the Oakland Athletics. In that start he walked three batters and struck out six.
Other than that game, Vazquez has basically been a ghost.
In his other four starts this season, Vazquez is 0-3 and the Yankees did not win any of those four games. Right now opponents are hitting .337 against the Yankees’ number four starter and his ERA is currently at an inflated 9.78.
The Yankees have only lost eight games this year. Half of those losses came on days Vazquez pitched.
Girardi had no choice but to skip Vazquez. His numbers this season are so poor and every team he has faced has decimated him, even the weakest ball clubs. The Chicago White Sox, who have the lowest team batting average in the majors with .227, feasted off Vazquez this past Saturday and touched him up for five earned runs over just three innings.
It’s obvious that something is not right with this picture.
Although Boston is not playing well at the moment (as they are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League Eastern Division standings) it was wise for Girardi to pass on him pitching at Fenway Park. If Vazquez were to go out and get Boston massacred, his confidence level would drop even further than it is now.
It’s not like he hasn’t lost big time to the Red Sox before (insert 2004 ALCS reference).
Last night on Daily News Live (a program in which all the New York Daily News writers sit and discuss sports) the reporters brought up the idea of trading Vazquez back to the National League for another pitcher. One writer suggested dealing him to the New York Mets for Jenrry Mejia, a 20 year-old righty from the Dominican Republic.
Mejia is a reliever for the Mets, so I’m not sure if this move would solve the Yankees’ problem. His numbers are not bad; he is 0-1 but has an ERA of 0.90. Plus, he has only given up one earned run in the 10 innings he has pitched this year.
I suppose if they actually went ahead with this idea, they could move Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation and plug Mejia into his bullpen spot. But Chamberlain is too unpredictable, even in the bullpen. Plus, the Yankees will most likely not give up on Vazquez so soon.
However, the off-season move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Atlanta Braves and brought Vazquez to New York is so far looking like a terrible one. At this point, Brian Cashman might not admit he made a mistake in making the trade. His faith in Vazquez might not be gone just yet, and he probably still feels the scuffling pitcher can turn it around.
In the past, Cashman has been known to believe in a lot of the deals he makes.
But if the season reaches (let’s say) July and Vazquez is not performing, he might be gone before he had the chance to unpack his bags. Just as Girardi had no choice but to skip over Vazquez’s turn in the rotation, Cashman might have no choice but to trade him away because of his ineffectiveness.
Adios Vazquez. Hello some other pitcher who can get the job done.
Last December the New York Yankees made a trade to get a number four starter. Only using three pitchers in the postseason, and unsure of who was going to be the number five man, they got it done.
So long Melky Cabrera. Hello (again) Javier Vazquez.
Boasting a 15-10 record in 2009 with a minuscule 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts, some people were happy with the move. I, on the other hand, was not a proponent of this trade from the get go, remembering how poorly he had performed in his first stint in pinstripes.
Vazquez, a member of the Yankees in 2004, was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, surrendering the infamous grand slam to Johnny Damon–a blast that basically put the Yankees away.
Back in pinstripes, Vazquez made his first start of 2010 on April 9. What happened? He picked up right where he left off in ’04 and got rocked. He tossed 5 2/3 innings, was charged with eight earned runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out five.
Not the way he wanted to start the season, I’m sure.
His second start was a little better, but Vazquez still was not good enough to win. Against the Angels on April 14, he tossed 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. It certainly was not his best start, but it was a step up from his first.
Last Tuesday night in Oakland he got his first W of ’10 beating the Athletics in a 7-3 Yankee win. This time Vazquez made it through 5 1/3 innings, and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked three and fanned six.
Then we came to today…
Just when it seemed Vazquez was heading in an upward direction in terms of his pitching, he backpedaled and collapsed. He did not make it past the fourth frame, only giving the Yanks 3 2/3 innings of work. He served up five runs on five hits, walked three and struck out three. Not to mention he coughed up a three-run lead.
His pitching led to the Yankees’ first series loss of 2010, as they dropped two games out of three this weekend to the Halos. Yes–totally the opposite of cool.
Right now, Vazquez is the weakest link on the Yankee pitching staff. He has not pitched past the sixth inning this season and has given up 20 earned runs in all 20 innings he has thrown. He has failed to locate with his pitches and has been hanging too many breaking balls.
Bobby Abreu was a clear example of that today.
In the third inning, the former Yankee blasted a solo home run to right off Vazquez, a bomb hit off a terribly executed breaking ball. Vazquez threw 78 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.
If you ask me, of those 78 pitches, probably 38 or 39 of them were off-speed. Vazquez has shown no faith in his fastball. It seems he overthrows his fastball too much and subsequently misses the strike zone because of it. He has issued eight walks this season, indicating his location problem.
So far this trade has not paid off and it’s looking like a bad one. I’m not concerned with his numbers from last year, his numbers from 2004, or any other year for that matter. What does matter is 2010 and how unproductive Vazquez’s outings have been.
At this moment, we as Yankee fans have every reason to disapprove of the trade.
His next time out will come at home against one of his former teams, the Chicago White Sox, on Saturday May 1. I am going to give Vazquez a month. If he is still struggling as mightily as he is now by June 1, I am going to go on a search for a starting pitcher to replace him.
I will look far and wide; I will look at every stat from every Yankee minor league hurler, I will glance at every team in baseball who might need Vazquez–while at the same time finding a suitable replacement; a pitcher putting up numbers in accordance to a good number four starter.
Honestly, at this point in the season, the Yankees could probably throw their bat boy out there and he could do better than Vazquez. He is too inconsistent and does not seem to be moving in the same direction of the team. He is the only starter in the rotation with a losing record.
CC Sabathia (2-1), A.J. Burnett (2-0), Andy Pettitte (3-0), Phil Hughes (2-0)
Vazquez is now 1-3.
Before the season began, an analyst said Vazquez has the stuff to be a number two pitcher. While that may or may not be true, he is not showing that right now. He is only showing that he cannot do the job he was brought on board to do.
We’ll see what he is made of. He has until June 1. Then, if he has shown no improvement, I say the Yankees ought to dump him off. It’s not like he is under contract for 2011 as it is.
–Marcus Thames has got nothing on Brett Gardner in left field. He started this afternoon, only to misplay a ball out in left. There are some big guys who can move around pretty well in the outfield (like Nick Swisher)
Thames is a big guy who can’t move around well. If he had caught the fly ball, it would have been a whole different game today. Thames only started because he supposedly “wears down left-handed pitching,” a Scott Kazmir (a lefty) started for the Halos.
Thames did have a hit and a run scored, but that misplayed ball hurt big time.
–The Yankees only have to play the Angels twice more this season: July 20-21 at home in Yankee Stadium. Thank God for getting them out of the way in April! They are too tough to be playing down the stretch.
–As mentioned before, the Yankees are 5-1 in their first six series this season. This past series was their first losing effort. Still, it’s not bad to have won five straight to begin the year. Good start!
–Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch in the second inning. Jorge Posada came up to bat right after Cano and launched a two-run homer.
Message to the 29 other teams in the MLB: you hit the Yankees, they will hit back!
Cano also homered in this game, clubbing his fifth of the year, and he now leads the Yankee team in long balls.
–Mark Teixeira needs to get off the interstate and start getting some hits. He did draw two walks today, but he is supposed to be a big threat to the other team’s pitching. Currently batting .119, he poses no threat right now at all.
Wake up, Tex!
–Speaking of Teixeira , I really don’t know how I feel about him ramming the catcher Friday night. I’m not sure if Teixeira did it because he got hit with a pitch before it happened, but whatever the case, he mowed him down.
It is part of the game and many runners coming hard into home plate do it, but I felt sorry for Bobby Wilson. It’s happened to the Yankees before, in spring training prior to 2008. Elliot Johnson of the Rays broke Francisco Cervelli’s wrist that way.
It’s dangerous! The league should consider regulating collisions somehow, if it’s doable.
Teixeira really got him good (giving Wilson a concussion and an ankle injury) but at least he apologized and felt some remorse for the hit. That is the type of personality Teixeira has, but if I were him, I’d watch out in July. The Angels might want some retribution.
And Justin Tuck better watch out. If the New York Giants need a linebacker or a defensive end, Teixeira might be their man. That hit was football-esque!
–On their day off tomorrow, the Yankees will visit the White House in honor of their 2009 World Series Championship. Message to Joe Girardi: tell Obama to fix the economy, create jobs for hard-working Americans who need work, and that his health care bill is trash and should be thrown away.
I think it’s nice that the President recognizes the nation’s sports titles and invites the Champs to the White House. It’s been happening for years and years; I know Clinton and Bush both did the same thing.
–On Tuesday the Yankees go to Baltimore to play the Orioles for three games. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett will start those three games, respectively.
–Right now the Yankees are 12-6, in second place in the AL East, a game behind the Rays who are 14-5.
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.