“Nobody likes you when you’re 23.”–The great words of Blink-182 in their song “What’s My Age, Again?”
Yesterday was my 23rd birthday and I could not have picked a better way to spend it: with my dad at the Yankees-Phillies game. It’s almost as if I received two presents in one; I was privileged to go to the first game of the 2009 World Series rematch and the Yankees won 8-3.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
A few weeks before my College Graduation, I told my dad that the Yankees were playing the Phillies on my birthday. I expressed interest in going to the game, but because the game was such a hot ticket (it being a World Series rematch and all) I wasn’t sure if my dad could get the tickets.
In the end he was able to get them and I couldn’t have been happier.
Our seats were in the Terrace section on the first base side–in the front row. At first this frightened me, because I am deathly afraid of heights. The Terrace section, although not the highest part of Yankee Stadium, is pretty steep. When we walked into the Great Hall, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive of going all the way up.
But once my dad and I reached our seats and the starting lineups were announced, I felt a little better. All of a sudden my feelings seemed content and the heights did not bother me at all. It was time for me to have some fun and be liberated of my acrophobia; after all, it was my birthday!
Not long after first pitch, a few people came in to sit in our row. As fate would have it, a young man (about my age) wearing a Phillies hat sat next to me. Thinking out loud, I said “Oh no! I’m sitting next to a Phillies fan?”
Everyone in our section heard me and laughed.
The kid looked at me, smiled and said, “Don’t worry! I’m not one of those obnoxious fans!” I could tell he was a good guy so I laughed, shook his hand, and said, “OK.”
I wound up talking a lot of baseball with him for the rest of the night. My birthday actually came up in one of our conversations and he even wished me a happy birthday.
To start the game, Roy Halladay shut down the Yanks 1-2-3. “Was he going to toss another perfect game tonight?” I wondered. Not on my watch!
In the bottom of the second, Brett Gardner tripled to score Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Not long after that I received a text message from my friend Dave that read, “Why is it that Brett Gardner triples every time you go to a game?”
Of course he was joking. But I was at the game last May when he tripled and hit the inside-the-park home run–that’s why he kidded with me about it.
In the third inning, Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate. A lot of fans in our section were hoping for something to happen. I jokingly shouted, “Come on Curtis! Halladay is not a lefty, you can hit him!”
And hit him he did.
Granderson proceeded to belt a long home run to right field, a solo blast to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. It was Granderson’s fifth home run of the year.
After Granderson’s solo job, it got better.
Later in the frame, Nick Swisher stepped up to the plate and smacked a two-run home run, his 11th round-tripper of the year. The Yankees were now leading 5-0 and the Phillies fan I was sitting next to suddenly became very silent. I think he had a feeling at this point that his team was not winning the game.
He may have piped down for awhile but in the fourth inning got loud again. The Phillies rattled Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia for three runs. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both cracked RBI singles, and Ben Francisco grounded into a fielder’s choice (thanks to a “mental lapse” by Sabathia) to score Ryan Howard.
Sabathia did not cover the bag at first on what should have been a double play. The man behind me had been drinking and yelled, “Hey CC! Pretend there’s a cheeseburger at first base and cover the bag!”
It was said out of inebriation, but it was still funny. The drunken fan provided me with more entertainment than the actual game…I think.
The next inning Mark Teixeira stepped up to the plate against Halladay. He pulled a fly ball that seemed to keep on tailing toward the right field foul pole. At first I thought it was a foul ball. But the crowd erupted and I looked over to my left and saw Teixeira rounding the bases; that’s when I knew it was a goner.
A solo home run to give the Yanks a 6-3 lead. The ball literally just cleared the 314 sign in right field–not the most glorious home run, yet I was happy he left the park. It was Teixeira’s 10th home run of the season.
The game moved on to the seventh inning and the Yankees tacked on two more runs. Francisco Cervelli singled to score Teixeira and Jorge Posada, giving the Yanks an 8-3 edge. A few sections to my right I noticed a girl (again, probably my age) holding a sign that read, “Francisco Cer-SEXY.”
I immediately thought of Virginia over on Live, Eat, and Breath Yankees. She always posts about Cervelli and how she likes him. I suppose there are many young ladies out there who think the Yankee backstop is a heartthrob!
The Yanks scored those two runs off reliever Antonio Bastardo. I don’t want to get into too many details about what the drunken man behind me had to say, but I’ll just say he had a lot to say about Bastardo’s last name.
Again, the fans probably entertained me just as much as the game.
Right after the eighth inning, the Phillies fan who I chatted with for the better part of the night was heading out. He once again shook my hand and wished me a happy birthday. He knew the game was just about over and the Yankees were going to win.
No hard feelings, though.
Chan Ho Park finished off the game against his former team and shut them down in the ninth. Park tossed a perfect ninth inning to end the ballgame and notch the win. The Yankees took down the almighty Halladay and beat the Phillies in the first game of their regular season World Series rematch.
It was a fantastic way to end my 23rd birthday yesterday.
As my dad and I were leaving Yankee Stadium for the train back to Westchester, I noticed an enormous amount of Phillies fans shuffling out; it looked like a sea of red hats with the letter “P” mixed in with white and navy blue pinstripes. A few Phillies fans were hearing it from the Yankee fans; in fact, a pair of Phillies fans were heckled by a couple of Yankee Stadium vendors.
“The Phillies got smoked tonight!” the vendor exclaimed.
“Yeah, well the Phils will be back tomorrow,” one of them responded.
“That’s right they’ll be back tomorrow–to lose to the Yankees again!”
Realizing they weren’t winning the argument, the two Phillies fans walked away.
When I got on the train, I sat across from a couple who was coming in from Manhattan; he and his girlfriend had gone to see Hair on Broadway. The gentleman was asking me how the game went and I gave him the full game report. He was pretty happy the Yankees won and I had a nice conversation with him about sports for the majority of the ride home.
When I got home plopped down on my bed and smiled. “I’m glad they won for me today,” I said to myself in exhaustion. “This was a great birthday.”
Dating back to last year, the Yankees are 6-0 in games I have attended at the new Stadium. Hope they keep up the trend, because on Sunday I am going again. My sister got me tickets to see the final game of the Subway Series.
I can only hope they keep up the winning while I am in attendance!
Hello all! And Welcome to the second edition of Yankee Yapping. I hope you all enjoyed my last rant about the Hall of Fame game, but now it’s time to do some Bronx Bomber blabbering. Away we go!
My thoughts on…
This Past Weekend
It was a bad weekend to be a Yankee fan, that’s for sure. It was disgraceful. Coming off that sweep in Minnesota, I had a good feeling about our chances in Anaheim. The Yankees were certainly carrying momentum, and it showed in the first few innings of Friday night’s game.
When the Yanks took that early 4-1 lead, I felt like they were going to win. But of course, Joba Chamberlain had to toss too many pitches and get himself taken out, not pitching past the fifth inning. Then the bullpen just couldn’t get the job done.
Saturday and Sunday were just as bad. Saturday was another game like Friday–getting a lead and squirreling it away. And Sunday we just kept trying to come back from deficit after deficit and couldn’t do it.
After this weekend, I truly know how it feels as a baseball fan to be burned by a former friend. It seemed every time Bobby Abreu was stepping into the box against us he was either hitting an RBI single or double. We just couldn’t get our former teammate out.
Abreu went 6-for-14 this weekend with six RBIs and three runs scored. I couldn’t stand it. Every time he got a hit I kept saying to myself, “we should have just re-signed him. He could be doing this for us rather than against us.”
Even the guys who aren’t hitting this season killed us. Robb Quinlan was batting .219 with no home runs and four RBIs, and yet he managed to start hitting in the series against the Yankees.
The Angels just seem to have the Yanks’ number. They eliminated us in the first round of the playoffs in 2002 and in 2005, and no matter what we do we just can’t seem to take them out.
What’s done this weekend is done. But I hope the Yanks can figure out a way to beat the Halos before October, because God help us if we’re facing the Angels in the first round. They have not been very kind to us in the past.
All Star Break
Despite the Yanks’ recent struggles against the Angels, they have played some incredible baseball to this point. They find themselves at 51-37 this year, 14 games above .500 at the half way point.
They are three games behind the Red Sox for first place in the American League Eastern Division, and the leaders by two-and-a-half games in front of Texas for the AL Wild Card.
Last year they were 50-45, only five games above .500 and six games out in the division race. As compared to last year, they are in a much better place.
If the season ended today, we would be in the playoffs, and it has to stay that way. Historically, the Yankees have great numbers after the All Star break, and usually come out of the gate swinging, so-to-speak.
CC Sabathia and Robinson Cano are two Yankees I can think of that are “second half players,” usually putting up their best work after the All Star break. I’m expecting both of these guys to continue that this year.
It’s safe to say the Yankees are doing a lot better than last year around this time, still in the hunt for a division crown and the leaders in the Wild Card. They have to make the playoffs this year, because Joe Girardi might be done as manager if they don’t.
Home Run Derby
Since it first began in 1985, the Home Run Derby has provided an enjoyable night for every baseball fan, and I am no exception.
In recent years I have kept score of who hits how many home runs in each round. It’s a little nerdy, but I am baseball fanatic, so I guess it’s normal.
The only thing I usually don’t like about the derby is the lack of pinstripes. There have only been two Yankees that have won the Home Run Derby, and ironically enough they have both been first basemen.
Tino Martinez (my favorite player during the Yankee Dynasty years) blew everyone out in 1997 at Jacobs….errm…Progressive Field in Cleveland. He put on such a great display of power and beat out the likes of Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Mark McGwire, and Chipper Jones.
Martinez even said he was more nervous about competing in the Home Run Derby than the actual All Star Game because he didn’t feel he was really a home run hitter. He didn’t want to compete in the derby and not hit a home run, but wound up winning the contest.
Jason Giambi became the second Yankee to win the Derby in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee. I remember watching it, and just being happy another Yankee won the contest. I never really liked Giambi as a player, but I’ll give him his due.
Giambi beat out his future teammate Alex Rodriguez, the current home run king* Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa–all of whom were amazing home run hitters at the time. And he did it wearing pinstripes.
This year Brandon Inge (Detroit Tigers), Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins), Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies), Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers), Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego Padres), Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay Rays), Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers), and Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals) will all be taking their hacks for the Home Run Derby crown.
If you want my prediction, Pujols wins this easily.
He is leading the majors this year with 32 homers and 87 RBIs, and some people are going as far as saying he could win the Triple Crown. He is also playing in his home park in St. Louis, thus giving him a distinct advantage over the other participants.
Earlier this season, Pujols smashed a home run that went so far, it knocked out the “I” on the electrical McDonald’s “Big Mac” sign at Busch Stadium. He can hit and hit comfortably at his home park.
In my view, Pujols wins it by a landslide.
All Star Game
The mid-summer classic is always a fun night. The fans get to see the best-of-the-best playing on the same field at the same time.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the game last year at Yankee Stadium, but at least the American League won it.
The AL always seems to hold down the National League in this game. The last time the NL won the All Star game was 1996 (If you don’t count the 7-7 tie in 2002).
These last few years have showed the AL’s dominance over the NL, and I expect the same this year.
My prediction is the AL over the NL, 5-3.
The only thing that would make this great would be to see Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira or Mariano Rivera win the All Star Game’s Most Valuable Player Award. The last Yankee to win it was Jeter in 2000, and it’d be nice to see a Bomber take it home to New York again.
I’d also love to see Rivera close out the contest and get the save. He has saved three All Star Games in his career (1997, 2005 and 2006) and is tied with Dennis Eckersley for most All Star Game saves.
There would be nothing more special than to see the greatest closer in baseball take first place for most All Star Game saves the same year he recorded his 500th career save.
Whichever way it goes, I have a feeling the AL will have home-field advantage in the World Series this year because of an All Star Game win.
Roy Halladay to the Yankees? Why?
As most baseball fans know, rumors have been swirling about Roy Halladay. Blue Jays’ General Manager J.P. Ricciardi put Halladay out there saying that he would be accepting offers for the ace.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies are the only three teams that could possibly wind up with Halladay if he is dealt.
Olney said the Yanks and Sox have the prospects to trade for Halladay, but not the interest and the Phillies have the interest, but not the prospects.
The Yanks should generate some interest, seeing as how two of their starters could not make it out of the fifth inning this past weekend.
Joba Chamberlain is too unpredictable. He can give you seven innings with eight strikeouts, a couple walks, and maybe two runs.
Or he can give you four-and-a-third innings with no strikeouts, four walks, and five runs. He can either put us in a hole or dominate the opposition.
As good as Pettitte has been this year (8-4 is not a bad record) he often struggles at home, and in that start against the Angels this weekend, he looked bad.
Then there’s Chien-Ming Wang, who was once an ace but now an injury-ridden nobody. Alfredo Aceves took his spot in the rotation, but Girardi doesn’t want Aceves to be in the rotation. He said they will need to make a decision on what to do about that fifth spot.
In my view, the Yankees need to make a trade here. They are contenders and struggling a little bit with some pitching. Although certainly not as bad as the makeshift rotation last year, they could use one more solid pitcher.
If I were Brian Cashman, I would think about packaging some minor leaguers and maybe some back-end bullpen pitchers to Toronto for Halladay.
There are a few guys that I’d be willing to part with, namely Sergio Mitre, Kei Igawa, Edwar Ramirez, David Robertson, and Brian Bruney. If you gave up some of those guys, the Yanks would be a lot safer, and here’s how:
If they give up Mitre, it’s fine. They’re not losing anyone important to the Major League team. Igawa is the same way, and so is Ramirez. Robertson has been useless, a la walking two batters with the bases loaded in Minnesota and pitching even worse against the Angels.
Bruney could go and we could ‘pen Chamberlain again. If he is going to be as unpredictable as he is, he should go back to where he was lights out: the bullpen. We could then use Chamberlain as the eighth inning set-up man and put either Phil Hughes or Aceves into the fifth spot.
So let’s say for hypothetical the starter goes six innings. The Yanks can put Hughes/Aceves in for the seventh, Chamberlain in for the eighth, and Rivera for the ninth.
If they received Halladay in a trade, they wouldn’t have to worry about re-signing him until the end of the 2010 season when his contract expires. I think that was the reason the Yanks waited on getting Sabathia and Teixeira.
Both Sabathia and Teixeira were traded mid-season last year, and both players’ contracts were up at the end of the year.
If the Yankees had traded for both guys, they could’ve lost them to free agency after giving up their best prospects to get them. When Sabathia and Teixeira went to the Yankees, both the Brewers and Angels lost.
Milwaukee and Los Angeles lost Sabathia and Teixeira, respectively, and the players they gave up for Sabathia and Teixeira.
The Yankees wouldn’t have to worry about losing Halladay at the end of the season because he’d be locked up for at least another year before having to worry about re-signing him.
Even if you don’t have an extraordinary fifth starter, you have four guys that can carry you through a playoff series with Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Pettitte, and if we were to get him, Halladay.
I hope they do make a decision and opt to negotiate for Halladay. But they have to make up their mind soon–the trade deadline is at the end of the month.
Well that’s all for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll be back next week with more analysis. Enjoy the Home Run Derby and All Star Game, everyone!