Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ugh, 1:00 am is too late....

Man, they did it again – despite Mussina’s troubles they did it again. My dad sent me an email referring to “Moose panic” and I just got this image of dozens of fans fleeing the stadium “AAAAAAAAH!” My problem may be extreme fatigue – I had to be at work today at 7:00 after 3 weeks off. My internal clock is all screwed up, so I couldn’t sleep at all – why not listen to the game? I think I got like 3 ½ hours of sleep last night. I’m actually listening to tonight’s game at the moment, but I’m fading fast. I’ll end up falling asleep with my headphones on like a little kid. I can’t wait for the Yankees to come back to the East Coast.

So Mark Bellhorn, huh? I don’t know what to think about that – the last time I saw him play, Fenway was booing him for striking out all the time. Maybe the pinstripes will cure what ails him. He was on the DL for a month with a thumb injury. Must be some sort of epidemic.

Sheffield must be so annoyed that he isn’t able to do anything tonight – he didn’t say anything to the press about his suspension (yet, anyway) unlike David Wells, and as everyone knows, it’s not like Sheff to keep his thoughts to himself if he’s got something to say.

I am so loving Matt Lawton at this point – he seems to have jumped into the rapids and is swimming along just fine – a hit in that key 9th inning in the game against Kansas on Saturday, a home run last night, all this while Hurricane Katrina is ripping the roof off his house while his parents are in it.

And Alex Rodriguez. I am just glad he’s a Yankee. Go ‘head Seattle, boo him. He seems to be pretty comfortable in those pinstripes these days. I wonder how someone politely inquires after one’s health when the person in question has pulled a groin muscle. “Sooooooo…how’s yer groin?”

I wonder how much longer they can keep coming from behind like that – that has to be draining on them with it happening as often as it is. I hope they take full advantage of the four games with Seattle because the A’s are going to be tough.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sweep in the right direction....

Leiter, that guy, I’m tellin’ ya. I have time to get an entire week’s worth of chores done around my house when he pitches. Spring cleaning level of cleaning going on here.

I needed for the Yankees to have an easy blow-out kind of game today – thank you Jason Giambi for giving me that. It’s nice to have the opposing team hit a two run homer and think “huh” rather than “OH NO!” And so the Yanks sweep Kansas City, avoid the rain and leave for the Left Coast. I have to start back at work this week and won’t be able to stay up late to listen to the games. Baseball withdrawal!

There was a huge article in the Arts & Entertainment section of the paper today (you know, “The Daily Red Sock”) about a local English professor who happens to be a huge lifelong Red Sox and Phillies fan (geez, think about that for a minute). He apparently wrote a line by line baseball reinterpretation of T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland about the Red Sox winning the World Series last year. The Yankees of course are the figure of evil. (um…wasn’t it the Cards that they beat to win the series? Just curious.) Next up a reinterpretation of Beowulf with the Yankees as Grendel, I’m sure. His buddy paints huge folk art murals of famous baseball games – I’m wondering if he paints Yankee players with little horns. Cloven hooves? Forked tails. Get over it already!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

GRIND IT!!!!


UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! WOOOOOOOHOOOOOO! I have to be honest, I almost packed it in on this one – even John Sterling sounded like he’d given up, calling the plays almost as an afterthought. I am soooo glad I didn’t turn the game off, that was AWESOME! I am almost always doing something else while the game is on – folding laundry, paying bills, whatever… All I could do for the whole bottom of the 9th was pace back and forth…AMAZING! Many thanks to the Royals for blowing that double play and giving the Yankees that proverbial crack in the door…

WCBS interviewed ARod afterwards, and Suzann Waldman asked him if they would have won this game two months ago – he said “NO.” And to that end, I have to start thinking of him differently… I haven’t been giving him enough credit, still thinking of him as the guy that has trouble making it happen in the clutch. When Sheffield was up with 2 outs and runners 2nd and 3rd , I thought that if I were managing the Royals, I would consider walking Sheff, and going after ARod, hoping that he’d go for the big dramatic hit and strike out. This is why nobody is calling me to manage a baseball team – that was the two-months-ago ARod – this guy did exactly what was needed. Did I say? I feel the need to repeat it…WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!

Friday night’s game was such a nice break – Randy Johnson pitched well (!!!!!), Bernie made up for not being 23 by bashing the hell out of the ball, and they got and kept the lead—very pleasant to watch. Why does ARod grab Jeter by the neck? It looks like it hurts…

I was at the library the other day, and actually read the interview in The New Yorker about Gary Sheffield – he says what he says – he contradicts himself somewhat. Complaining that two guys on the team get all the media attention (there is some truth to that), but then getting pissed off about having to deal with the media doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I guess that would fall under “Sheffield being Sheffield” however. The article is an interesting example of how the media works, though. Most of what Sheffield actually says is targeted toward the media and the Yankees organization. It’s the interviewer who takes what he says and embeds it in names-named “Stepford Yankee” digs at Rodriguez and Jeter. With the media playing games like that, why would anyone ever be honest with them? Anytime anyone is, they twist it to suit their purposes – if you’re going to survive intact you almost have to be an automaton when the microphones are on.

Just checked the scoreboard. Boston lost a huge lead and lost 12-8 to Detroit. How perfect is that?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Guilt is a terrible thing to waste...

Oh, sure, but when the Yanks give up 9 runs in one inning, front page of the sports section, above the fold! They did a box score for yesterday’s win against Toronto, so I am slightly placated.

Wednesday was a little spooky, eh? I mean, Mussina is probably getting tired, being the only pitcher on the original Yankees starting roster who is both consistent and uninjured, but eight runs? Eeeeeesh. The fact that Randy Johnson is pitching tonight against Kansas City is not reassuring, especially since Kansas did such a nice job working over Boston. (Working over Curt Schilling! Har!)

I had to call my dad yesterday and give him hell. Months ago we had planned to go in for the game against Toronto yesterday. Neither one of us wants to sit in the bleachers – we both have to travel 2 ½ hours to get to the stadium, and damnit, I want to be able to at least be able to read the numbers on the jerseys when I get there. There were great seats available along the 3rd base line (or as I like to call it “Derek Jeter’s side of the field”, apologies to Matsui and ARod.) Both my dad and I lament that when they show games on tv they waste all this time putting the camera on the announcers (who cares?! They’re sitting there talking!) or focusing completely on the match up between the pitcher and the batter. Third base line we can not only see what’s going on in the field, but into the Yankees dugout, which is cool.

A few weeks back I called him to find out how much I owed him for the tickets and he said, sounding annoyed “Well I haven’t gotten them yet! We need to see what the weather is going to be like! We’ll get them that week.” Fuck! My dad apparently still thinks it’s the 80’s when Don Mattingly was hitting home runs into seas of empty seats. Needless to say, we didn’t get tickets.

Having grown up Catholic, and being skilled in the art of the guilt trip, I had to call him after listening to the game. Perfect weather, ARod and Sheffield did their back-to-back-homerun thing, Mariano shut it down in the 9th, Shawn Chacon pitched an “I-saw-him-when” start, Jeter was fully recovered from his tragic thumb incident. (An aside – how funny was that? Jeter was, even for him, remarkably evasive about that thumb. How’d you hurt it? “I forget.” Bet he did it doing something stupid – slapping somebody upside the head or moving the entertainment center at home. No wonder Torre basically had to tie him to a trainers table to get him to take a day off -- I’m sure he’ll be taking endless rations of shit from everybody about it. “Did you huwt your widdle fumb?”) The only element missing from the mix was Cano, another I-saw-him-when. Oh, yeah, I laid it on thick. He assures me that we will be buying our tickets for next year the second they go on sale in December.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Do the Red Sox own my local paper?

Frustrated and disgusted with my local paper. This is football country – Eagles country to be precise – and baseball is only that weird little sport that takes place during the three weeks that there’s nothing going on with football. I’ve come to accept that. But they haven’t even printed a box score for the Yankees for the past two days -- just a final score in tiny print among all the other AL box scores. What’s the deal? They didn’t finish late, it wasn’t a late game – really irritating.

Ah, anyway… How ‘bout those Yanks! Such exciting nerve wracking baseball – they’ve gone from being an all-star sure thing to a team knitted together from all stars, rookies, veterans, and guys thrown out by lesser teams. (God, the players of the game were Felix Escalona and Al Leiter.) How can you not love that? The fact that they aren’t a sure thing, the fact that Joe Torre has to use every ounce of the considerable managerial ability he has to make this happen, the fact that the all-stars may have to make it a point to get on base rather than saving the day – MAN. This is really cool. It would be really cool if the five starting pitching slots could be given to the guys who earned on the basis of performance this year, rather than history.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In praise of Al Leiter


I hope, I hope, I hope there’s some kind of place for Leiter in the rotation after everybody gets healthy. There’s something about him that appeals to me. The fact that the Yankees pulled him off the scrap heap, threw a jersey on him, handed him a ball, and he pitched a beauty of a game against Boston at a crucial time should give him a place somewhere on the team, even if he isn’t their best pitcher. Given the intense uncertainty of that series – losing Wang and realizing that Pavano might not come back – the Yankees needed some indication that miracles could still happen and Al Leiter brought a miracle. I like his enthusiasm and his ability to not just tolerate but thrive in the New York media sauna. I like the fact that he’s working with Mel Stottlemeyer to try to improve, and I like the fact that he knows how lucky he is. Apparently he went and talked to Torre about possibly pitching out of the bullpen – he knows he doesn’t have what it takes to stay in the starting rotation, but he’s such a burst of energy and enthusiasm that I hope he finds a place. Maybe it’ll remind everybody what’s good about being in pinstripes. That being said, I hope he doesn’t lose to Toronto tonight.

I read an article written by Don Zimmer about George Steinbrenner (“Just Treat Me Like a Human Being”). He paints an interesting portrait about what it’s like to work for the Boss – all his employees appear to be property or livestock. When his properties are producing, he’s happy, lavishing praise and attention, but the minute they don’t perform, he just cuts staff – he couldn’t really care less about the history with that person. Obviously there’s a lot of money in play here, and I’m not saying that high paid staff and players should be allowed to hang out if they aren’t producing, but there are classier ways to handle it. He’s like the worst boss you could ever have. He holds the keys to the baseball kingdom – the Yankees, New York, the pinnacle – but you have to endure being mishandled and stabbed in the back by him the whole time you’re there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Brilliant!"


Ah, yeah, Randy Johnson. MVP material that one. When he goes to Torre and volunteers to act as closer to give Mariano a break, I wonder if Torre gets dizzy and nauseous. Because, which inning would it be – a shut out, or six runs on four home runs? I had to turn WCBS off because I got sick and tired of listening to the fireworks go off after each one. Besides that if either Waldman or Sterling said anything about “Well he pitched a great game except for one really bad inning,” I was going to start pitching stuff myself. Uh-huh, yeah, and the Yankees would be in first if it weren’t for the Red Sox, but it doesn’t work that way.

Is George Steinbrenner paying attention? This is not an issue with Torre or any of his coaches – it’s not like you can coach Randy Johnson at this point in his career. This was an expensive mistake – people thought that the Big Unit was going to pitch the same way at 41 that he did when he was 37 – and he’s not doing that.

I would be terribly impressed with the Unit if he was throwing as well as he was talking. I mean, volunteering to pitch every fourth start and help out as closer, that’s great, if you’re pitching well. At this point, the idea of having Randy Johnson get more time on the mound induces an overwhelming carsick feeling. I don’t have enough good luck rituals to manage that.

Can you believe that kid asked for $20,000 for Jorgie’s ball? Damn! I’ll bet the little darling is going to donate it to charity, right!

But they won the series, and they are still in the running. I cannot imagine what any kind of playoff series would look like with this team, but they are still in it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Tempting but nahhhh.....

A Red Sox Nation representative sneeringly informed me that Johnny Damon has publicly stated that he would be willing to entertain a contract discussion with George Steinbrenner, and of course he would cut his hair if he signed with the Yankees. “Figures,” he pouted. “The Evil Empire can’t let an All-Star play for another team after all.”

I don’t have time at the moment to discuss the convoluted logic involved in that statement, but the idea of Johnny Damon signing with the Yankees got me thinking. The Yankees don’t really need another bat, but they do need a center fielder. The question is, do they want Johnny Damon?

Johnny Damon is one of a small number of Red Sox players whom I respect. He is maddening to me as a Yankee fan for all the right reasons. He’ll foul off 12 pitches looking for the one that he likes – and that pitch might be the one he golfs off his shoes. He gets on base, and once on base is almost guaranteed to steal an extra. Defensively he is aggressive and unconcerned about his own body, and will get the ball. He drives me nuts. I love watching a Yankee pitcher strike him out, because it means something.

He seems to have a good attitude, understanding that bottom line, it’s about the game and the game stands above any player, team, or age-old rivalry. I was impressed that he stayed out of all the public trash-talking the Red Sox did against the Yankees over the winter. When asked about the Yankees as competitors, he seems to view them with respect for their ability as fellow athletes, and stays away from any comment about what he may think of them as people. When Melky Cabrera had so much difficulty with that fly ball in Fenway, Damon sought him out after the game to offer advice and encouragement. Sounds familiar….like something *Jeter* would do?

But he’s in his 30’s, and players in their 30’s are on the back ends of their careers – nobody really knows how much longer a player will play at that point. Injuries start to become more of problem, and just plain getting old becomes more of a problem. Well, “old”. Only in professional sports and modeling do you look at someone in their 30’s and think “wow, the twilight of their career.”

I think the Yankees should pass on Damon, if he should come their way. They need younger players, and they have the chance to bring in a kid like Bernie Williams was when they signed him, and let him learn in the Bronx. Oh, don’t get me wrong. The idea of putting Damon in the batting order as lead off hitter and going through Jeter/Sheffield/ARod/Matsui/Giambi is a very tempting thought, but the Yankees don’t need bats. (Christ look at the batting order they already have.)

Boston should do right by Damon and pay him what he asks – he’s earned the opportunity to finish his career out of Boston if that’s what he wants.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Are you kidding me??????

What is it about Tampa Bay that they function like kryptonite on the New York Yankees? They’re like 25 games back, they have no shot at a postseason, and unless their owners start taking the team more seriously, they never will. But let them face New York in a game and all of a sudden they’re playing the best baseball they’ve ever played and the Yankees collapse in a confused pile. “Hey, uh, does one of you guys have the ball?”

Tampa Bay is one of those teams that nobody can really gloat if they lose, because damn, look at them. I mean how many mistakes can you make in one game? If the other team loses its because they’ve done something really stupid. LIKE WALKING IN THE WINNING RUN. I wonder if they made Proctor walk back to the hotel. (“Since you like WALKING so much!”)

I mean seriously, how do you not bang your head against a wall when in the 11th inning a Yankees pitcher walks in the winning run?

I hate it when Mo blows a save. For me, Mo is like Jeter – ball goes to him, everything’s going to be ok. It’s really jarring when it suddenly isn’t ok. Seriously. Like I begin to suspect that the world is an evil place and doubt my purpose in life.

Everybody learns that waking up and thinking “Gee, today should be an easy day” is the most effective way to guarantee that you will be riding into work with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Kansas City are on a record breaking losing skid right now, and I hope to God the Yankees aren’t thinking, “well, after our beating by the White Sox, we’ll have Toronto, and pfft, Kansas City. Damn. Do I even need to show up for that series?” It was bad enough that they got swept by the Royals on the road, it will be completely embarrassing to get swept in their own house, and Kansas needs to start winning sometime.

Who knows, the good fairy of team spirit and October magic may come down and beat them with a bat, but I don’t think so. Jeter may succeed in convincing them that, no really, it’s much more fun to play good baseball and work in October, but it’s not looking like that. (Er suicide watch for Jeter in October? What will he do? He’s never had October off!)

It’s difficult for me to admit, but I almost don’t want them to go to the playoffs. Jeter, ARod, and Sheff haven’t had a day off unless they were sick or injured for the entire season. How much longer before they start swinging at the ball like it’s a piñata and they’re blindfolded? If a miracle is going to happen, it needs to happen immediately, and this team has already had more than it’s fair share of miracles this year. I will be the first to eat my words if they prove me wrong…(Please let them prove me wrong!)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

King George expresses displeasure

So Steinbrenner’s unhappy. So what else is new? Referring to Joe Torre repeatedly as “the manager” was a little ominous. As if that title might not apply to him in the very near future. How he can blame Joe for this mess is beyond me, it’s like blaming a chef for not being able to make a five-star meal with slightly stale gourmet ingredients and a broken stove.

Torre has the gift and the curse of a team full of smart veterans. How do you keep a team like this together and functioning when there have been times when NOBODY, Brian Cashman included knows who’s pitching in two days. These guys will know the score – many of them have been down the World Series road more than once. If Torre tries to sell them bullshit, they won’t buy it, and there’s very little real encouragement to be found this year. And yet, despite all the usual and unusual distractions, he has managed to keep the team fighting. If they aren’t still in it, they don’t seem to know.
Will Steinbrenner have learned from his mistakes? Or will he set Torre up to take the fall for the rather ordinary performance of the living fantasy baseball team he assembled? I am afraid that the latter will be the case, and I’m dreading November and December. Torre may be fired and Steinbrenner will be looking for more All-Star players in their 30’s to patch up the problems – when anyone in the organization tries to point out that that didn’t work well before, Steinbrenner will dump the blame on Torre and say that his new manager will handle it. While he’s at it, why not completely miss the point and name ARod as team captain?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What about the Bern?

God, they freaking HAD it. They played their butts off, but as that ball hit by Uribe landed 15 feet in front of Bernie in the outfield, I thought, oh wow. This may really not happen this year. And since the All-Star Break, not from lack of trying.

Watching Posednik, Rowand, and Dye tear up the Yankee Stadium outfield got me to thinking about Bernie Williams. What Yankee fan doesn’t love the Bern? A quiet, classy guy who has spent the last 15 years making it happen for the Yankees defensively and offensively by being fast, agile, and smart.

But this year has been something else. Letting balls fall out of his glove, striking out at key moments, not getting there in time to make the play. The Yankees didn’t pick up his option for next year, and nobody seemed all that surprised. They put Tony Womack out there to give Bernie a break, but Tony Womack is a second baseman. Surprising to no-one, aside from being really fast, he has a really hard time out there.

Bernie’s biggest crime? He didn’t read the memo. Everyone in their 30’s knows about the memo – it’s the communication your body sends your brain “hey, no, not happening”. Mortality’s first shot across the bow. You get hurt easier, and once you’re hurt it hurts a whole lot longer. “Playing through it” becomes impossible, and there begin to be things you can’t do at all.

I’m not much of a television yeller, but yesterday when that ball dropped, I couldn’t believe it. “NO! NO WAY!” No to the season, no to Bernie being almost done, no to the whole damn thing. Heartbreaking.

So what do the Yankees do with Bernie? Do they dump him? Do they ask somebody like Paul O’Neil to pull him aside and say, hey I thought leaving baseball would kill me too, but I’m still here? Do they let him stumble into an ignominious end, letting Yankee fans boo him out of the stadium instead of chanting his name like he deserves? Unfortunately, I can’t assume that the Yankees will do right by him – God, they sent even the Babe to play for the Boston Braves.

I hope, I hope, that Bernie leaves the game at the end of this season as a player, but I would be thrilled to see him on the Yankees bench as a coach if that’s what he wants to do. It would be hard for me to imagine the team without him.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Big Blewit

Okay, I’m just going to say it. It’s all bottled up inside and you know, that’s just not good for a person to keep things all bottled up, so I’m just going to say it, mmm-kaay?

RANDY JOHNSON SUCKS. BIG TIME.

Whew, ok, much better, now I can think rationally again. Oh, I know, I know, 87 - time Cy Young winner, master of the blistering slider, I’ve heard. Because he was a National Leaguer of late, I didn’t get to see much of him pitch, but damn, what young scowling pitcher with a scorching fastball isn’t compared to the Big Unit?
“I swear, he’s like a young Randy Johnson!”
“Ohhhhh…..”
So where is that guy, hmm? I mean, they dig him out of the mothballs sometimes, every once and a while the master of the double-digit-K is on the mound.

But most of the time, it’s this guy.

Who’s this guy?

You know, the one who gives up one base hit after another, whoops! that one was a home run! Sheesh! Not very Yankeesque! The one that Joe Torre has to remove at the end of the fourth inning because he “may have tweaked his back” making a play at first (or was it because he was in the process of getting shelled?) The one who’s best tool this year seems to be that menacing stare. The one that ML batters aren’t scared of anymore.

I will give Johnson this – he’s no Kevin Brown – no whining, and he’s there with the team. He knows that he isn’t earning his money or pulling his weight and that bothers him. I applauded his statement that with Wang, Pavano, Wright, and Brown either on the DL or on their way, he and Mussina HAD to put up “W” s. Sadly that seems to have gone the way of the Sheffield/ARod “two RBI” plan. (It’s a shame. I liked both plans.)

The thing is, the Big Unit wasn’t signed for $16 million to be a Solid Citizen in the Yankee club house, he was signed to make every batter in the league consider taking a sick day to avoid having to face him. It would seem that dirty looks from the mound are not achieving the same effect.

I give Torre a lot of credit for not being a cooler tossing hot head in that dugout, because some of the things that have gone down on that mound would make a sane person want to pull out their eyes. Torre’s also gifted at managing around big egos, while not stepping all over his less demanding players – I might have lost patience by now. The Yankees organization should save wear and tear on Torre’s legs and give the man a giant hook in the dugout to manage pitching issues this year. *YOINK!* Thank you folks and good night!

If I were a reporter, and a really fast runner, I would consider walking up next to Johnson, tugging his shirt sleeve repeatedly and whining “Are we there yet? Huh? Are we there yet? Hey Randy are we there yet? Huh huh huh?” and then run like hell out of there.

Well no, probably not. But I would write a really irritable blog.

Play Ball!

I never do things when I'm supposed to do them. I've never started a journal on January 1st. "Spring cleaning" usually happens sometime in September. I'm pretty sure that I would celebrate Christmas in February if it were left to me. In my world, it makes perfect sense to start a baseball blog about the Yankees in August. I'm actually a little surprised that I didn't start it in December.

Gary Sheffield made the news yesterday for an interview he did for The NewYorker. (Sheff is saying that he is being taken out of context, and the reporter is saying he's got tape. You decide.) He supposedly says, according to the story in the NY Daily News "I know who the leader is on the team. I ain't going to say who it is, but I know who it is. I know who the team feeds off. I know who the opposing team comes in knowing they have to defend to stop the Yankees".

For one whole minute of blissful naivete, I thought he was talking about Matsui.

He then goes on to say, "I am the straw that stirs the drink - Jeter thinks he can be the straw that stirs the drink, but he can only stir it bad." Oh, no hold on. Wrong era. Bring on the Bronx Zoo.

"Why shouldn't I tell the truth? I ain't trying to get no Pepsi commercial." He points out that the media is making a big deal out of Jeter and ARod, and "everyone else is garbage". Er...really? Sheff seems to get some attention, even when he's not pitching a tantrum. And wasn't ARod like Sheffield's little brother three weeks ago? Wasn't there a big love fest going on? "You the man." "No you the man" "Oh no you the man." Repeat.

Both Jeter and ARod say that they believe Sheffield. ARod emphasized that they are very good friends, and Jeter said "My name didn't come out of his mouth. He's sitting right over there, why don't you ask him?"

This is better than any television drama. I think I have the next reality show..."So you want to be a New York Yankee"

The game last night wasn't as much of a medical emergency as most of their games over the past week. (Shortness of breath, shooting chest pains, dizziness -- the Yankees are playing!) They started with and kept the lead, which always helps my breathing. Jeter let everyone know he was still the captain by getting a triple at his first at-bat, and Sheffield brought him home with a home run. I think someone from the Yankees organization should be assigned to piss Sheffield off every two to three weeks or so. "Hey, Gar, you'll never guess, now there's a steroid rumor." "WHAT???!!!" "Hey, man, aren't you up?" "GIMME MY BAT!"

I didn't notice that Jeter was banging on Sheffield's helmet any harder than usual when he was congratulating him either. "GOOD!" *BANG* "FOR!" *BANG* "YOU!" *BANG*

And to sweeten the whole thing? The Red Sox lost to the Twins. I mean they really really lost to the Twins. That's always like extra whipped cream on a Yankees win.

Sheffield has decided that he's nevernevernever speaking to the media evereverever again. Good plan. Group hug.