September 2008

New Reality Show: “Who Wants to Pitch for the Yankees”

O.K. The way this works is we forget about what the Yankees’ Tampa faction wants (we don’t really know who’s running things down there anyway). And we forget about what our G.M. wants (we don’t know yet if our G.M. is even coming back). This show is about the fans and what WE want. So here are the leading contenders for “Who Wants to Pitch for the Yankees.”  The winner receives a zillion-dollar contract, a penthouse apartment in Manhattan in the same building as either Jeter or A-Rod, and the opportunity to be among the first to pitch in brand new, luxurious Yankee Stadium where the clubhouse won’t have candy and other junk food but will have plenty of protein bars.

Contestant #1. He hails from Vallejo, CA, is 28 years old, is 6′ 7″ tall, and weighs 290 lbs (yeah, sure he does). Supposedly, he doesn’t want to play in New York. Imagine that.
Contestant #2. He was born in North Little Rock, AK, is 31 years old, is 6′ 5″ tall, and weighs 230 lbs. He’s been on the DL a lot but has always managed to kill the Yankees. (Other teams? Not so much.) Personally, I could live without the Randy Johnson scowl.
Contestant #3. He’s a Baton Rouge, LA boy, is 30 years old, stands at 6′ 1″, and weighs 226 lbs (pretty puny compared to the first contestant, but then most people are). Is he healthy enough? Does pitching well in the NL mean anything in the AL? Up to US to decide.
Contestant #4. He comes from Dearborn, MI, is 35 years old (kind of old, unless you’re Mussina), is 6′ 6″ tall and weighs in at 230 lbs. Yes, he was a Red Sox castoff but so were Roger Clemens and Sparky Lyle (oh, and Babe Ruth).
And finally, here’s contestant #5. He needs no introduction.
Just kidding. The Orioles can keep Daniel Cabrera. He’s not even a free agent. I put him in here because I can’t stand him for hitting Jeter and practically every other Yankee. Actually, I think we should go after him, if only to keep our players safe.

Girardi’s Press Conference Today – Let’s Discuss

Just listened to the audio, courtesy of Peter Abraham’s blog, and Joe sounded as if his team hadn’t been bumped from the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Sure, he used the word “disappointed” a couple of times, but the guy is nothing if not upbeat. Either he was born that way or he’s on Prozac.

A few of his answers stood out for me.
* He said he has a better understanding now of what makes individual players tick. (Gee, I would hope so after spending all those months with them.)
* He said there will be a conscious effort to avoid the slow start the Yankees got off to, both this year and last. (He didn’t say what that effort would involve, and I, for one, would have liked specifics.)
* He said the Yankees plan to upgrade the rotation so there will be more experienced pitchers on the staff, either by diving into the free agent market or through trades. One of the writers asked if the Yankees were still the “in” place for free agents. Girardi’s answer? “Sure, it is.” (Again, the man is upbeat.)
* He said he thinks Pettitte will return but doesn’t know about Mussina. (Am I the only one who wonders if the Yankees SHOULD bring Andy back?)
* He said he expects Posada, Matsui, Wang, and Mo to recover fully from their surgeries/injuries and be at full capacity when next season starts. (I think it’s the Prozac. Nobody is that cheerful about the future without at least a little medication.)
There were no juicy tidbits – Girardi didn’t venture a guess about what Cashman will decide and he didn’t commit to whether Joba will start or relieve, etc.
So, it looks like we’ll end the 2008 season the same way we ended 2007 – with plenty of uncertainty. Which means there will be lots of stuff to blog about.  

Heather Locklear Arrested Near My House

Never a dull moment.

I was moping around tonight, mourning the loss of the finale against the Red Sox (thanks a lot, Veras) as well as the end of the season, when a friend called to tell me about poor Heather and her arrest on the main road that intersects with my street. I must be psychic! Check out my previous post about starting a neighborhood watch and catching criminals as a way to pass the time! I was only kidding, obviously, but here’s a link to the story from my local paper, complete with Ms. Locklear’s unfortunate mug shot.
I know we’ll be hearing lots of Yankees news over the next few months, and I’m somewhat consoled by that. One thing George King of the NY Post told me last year is that there really is no off-season when it comes to the Yanks; they’re always making headlines. So at least we can look forward to Girardi’s press conference tomorrow and Cashman’s upcoming announcement about whether he’s staying on as GM, plus decisions about Abreu, Moose, Pettitte and free agent signings and trades. And are they keeping the coaching staff? 
It’s all a mystery at the moment. In the meantime, let’s hope the players stay out of trouble now that they’ve scattered and gone home. I don’t want to see any mug shots of Yankees.

Three Rosin Bags and You’re Out!

Am I crazy or was Papelbon being a diva in today’s game? Sure, it was raining but how many times can you wipe yourself off with a rosin bag, dig your spikes into a muddy mound and wander around looking like you’d rather be cleaning toilets than pitching? Was it the weather that was bugging him? The non-save situation? The desire to be resting up for the postseason? I kept waiting for the home plate umpire to go out there and make him speed things along – isn’t that their job these days? – but no. Pap needed three rosin bags before it was over. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

O.K. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I’ll turn to the important news of the game, which, of course, was Mussina’s 20th win. Lots of clapping here. I was stuck with the NESN feed and didn’t get to see any post-game interviews, but Moose must be a very happy camper. Good job by Coke, Bruney and Mo to keep things under control, as opposed to Joba, who threw like his head was already back in Nebraska.
While I wait for the nightcap to start (how can this be the end of our season – yikes), I feel compelled to ask: Why would the Mets hold their stadium farewell after their game? I realize that they were playing for their survival today and probably didn’t want any distractions, but how could they not factor in the possibility that they might lose and that they’re “celebration” of Shea might be just a tad DEPRESSING?
Well, who I am to cast stones? My team was eliminated ages ago, or so it seems.
So now what? How do I fill the time? Pick a team that’s in the playoffs and watch their games? Throw myself into election coverage? Start a neighborhood watch and go around making citizen’s arrests?
Wait! I just remembered! Not all regular seasons are coming to an end. Tonight is the season premiere of “Desperate Housewives.” I do have something to live for.

Remembering Paul Newman

Everybody’s been doing their tributes in the 24 hours since the actor died, so I thought I’d offer mine.

My husband Michael and I used to live in Weston, CT, the town right next to Westport where Newman lived for years. He was never into the Hollywood scene. He was a “local” who didn’t take his celebrity too seriously. His house, while on a sprawling piece of property, wasn’t a movie star mansion but a charming white clapboard New England farmhouse built in the 1800s.
When Michael was in high school, he had a summer job delivering groceries for a neighborhood market – a job that brought him to Newman’s house one afternoon with food and several cases of beer. Newman was in his garage when Michael drove up. Here was this screen legend wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a metal beer bottle opener hanging from his neck. He was working on his Volkswagon Beetle, which he told Michael had a Porsche engine. He offered Michael a beer and my husband, never one to refuse an alcoholic beverage, accepted. “He was so friendly,” Michael recalled. “And he tipped really well.” LOL.
As for me, I used to shop at a gourmet food place in Westport called Hay Day. One summer morning, many years after Michael’s interaction with Newman, I was picking through a large basket of fresh corn on the cob when I realized I had grabbed the same ear of corn as someone else. I glanced up and it was Paul Newman’s blue eyes I was staring into! OMG! But that’s the kind of thing that happened with him. He was always out and about by himself. No entourage. No fuss. Just the real deal. And btw, he insisted that I take the corn. He was a gentleman too.

Was It Really a “Wasted Year?”

When I was on the road following the Yankees last year, voicing my distress about the team’s horrible first half to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, he said, “Yankee fans have to appreciate how hard it is to win.” That line made it into the book. What got cut in the editing process was what he added. “Derek Jeter always says a season is a waste if you don’t win the World Series. I completely disagree with his all-or-nothing philosophy, because it’s trickled down to the fans, and I think it’s a shame.”

And now here is Jeter, telling Kevin Kernan of the NY Post the same thing: “This year was a waste.”
Was it? Obviously, it was disappointing. Clearly, we all wanted not only to make the postseason but to win a 27th world championship. No question, we were hopeful that Joe Girardi and the kids (not just Hughes and Kennedy, but Shelley Duncan too) would succeed.
But a waste? I beg to differ. I watched just about every game this season and there were pleasures to be had. In no particular order:
* Molina throwing out runners. Great job by a second string catcher who stepped up when Posada went down.
* Damon re-emerging as a solid leadoff hitter, batting .300 and running the bases like the Damon of old.
* The Veras-Bruney-Ramirez bullpen making a strong showing for most of the season. Once Joba moved to the starting rotation and Farnsworth and Hawkins were dealt/DFA’d, they got the job done and were later joined by Robertson, Coke, Marte and Giese. Bruney was good before his injury and even better after, and Coke has been a revelation.
* Joba adjusting from the pen to the rotation, seemingly with ease. Personally, I like him in the pen as heir apparent to Mo, but either way I’m flippin’ glad he’s on my team.
* Mo having one of his best years ever. The guy is 39! Now we hear he has a shoulder problem and pitched with pain all season, which makes his performance that much more amazing.
* Mussina coming back from a dismal year to become our ace. I sure hope he gets win #20 tomorrow. No one deserves it more.
* Abreu shining yet again at the plate. Six straight seasons with 100 RBIs, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. Not too shabby.
* A-Rod putting up good numbers in an “off year.” Love him or hate him, I’m glad he opted in as our third basemen or we’d be talking about Joe Crede. I’ll take those 35 homers and 100+ RBIs any day.
* Nady landing in Yankeeville. The guy reminds me of the gritty Tino and Brosius and O’Neill. With a little more patience at the plate, he could be outstanding.
* Gardner speeding around the bases. Who knows if he’ll be able to hit consistently, but he was a spark plug late in the season when we needed one.
* Aceves showing some promise as a possible starter next year. Either that, or he’ll end up being the “Mexican Chase Wright,” as Peter Abraham called him.
* Jeter breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for hits at Yankee Stadium. Hello, Derek? Was making history this season really a waste? I didn’t think so.
Any other thoughts while I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy?

I Really Love Blowouts (When the Yankees Win)

I realize we were essentially playing the Pawtucket Red Sox tonight, given the rain delays. No Ortiz. No Drew. No Pedroia. No Manny. (Oops. He’s driving in all those runs for the Dodgers now. Too bad.) Not even Lowell and Youkilis after they left the party early. And, of course, we were facing mostly a succession of rookie pitchers (plus Timlin).

BUT STILL. We won 19-8 because our scrubs were better than their scrubs. Ransom, Gardner, Moeller, even Betemit played great.
And let’s hear it for Abreu, who got his 100th RBI, and Cano, who seems to have found religion (or at least his swing).
What does it all mean? Nothing. But it was fun knocking the Sox out of contention for the division title. The Rays owe us one. Actually, I can’t imagine a scenario when it isn’t fun to beat the Red Sox, which is exactly how their fans feel about the Yankees.
Speaking of fans, maybe somebody can answer this one for me. Who is that blond guy who sits behind home plate at Fenway FOR EVERY SINGLE GAME? Like, for years. He’s sort of an everyman-looking version of Robert Redford. He never has any friends with him, as far as I can tell. He just sits there with his arms folded across his chest, very serious. Does anyone know if he’s part of the organization or is he just a guy with big bucks?
That’s it from me. I’m off to watch a tape of the debate. I wonder if it’ll be a blowout too.

Rain Delay Entertainment

Let’s see. What should I do while I wait to see if tonight’s Yankees-Red Sox game will be postponed? Read? Take a walk? Watch the pre-debate chatter on CNN?

No, I need something that will make me laugh.
Thank goodness I found this little treasure, which proves that Red Sox fans have no business giving Yankee fans grief about anything.

Caroline Kennedy Is a Fan of Which Team?

No, that’s not a trick question. I actually asked her about her baseball partisanship today. I was fortunate to have been invited to a reception for her while she was here in California stumping for Barack Obama. She was gracious and down to earth, and spoke eloquently about why she decided last year, when she turned 50, to get out and support Obama.

Of course, the “normal” people at the reception went up to her after her talk and asked her how her Uncle Teddy was doing, why Hillary wasn’t picked as the VP candidate, what she thinks about the bailout, health care, etc. Not me. When it was my turn to step up and shake her hand, I had only one thing on my mind.
“I’m curious,” I said. “You live in New York, but your family compound is in Massachusetts. And Neil Diamond named that Fenway song, ‘Sweet Caroline’, after you. So are you a Yankee fan or a Red Sox fan?”
She seemed taken aback for a second, then said, “Both teams.” She smiled apologetically. “I know I’m not supposed to be but I am.”
I was about to launch into a whole litany of reasons why she should like the Yankees more, but luckily for her she was whisked away by a security guy.
Speaking of the Yankees, what a wretched game tonight against the Jays (bye, bye Carl). Unlike last night’s game, which had a few things to appreciate, tonight’s game was a waste of time. Aside from the incredibly speedy Brett Gardner and his improving offense, there was no one to applaud. Well, except Roy Halladay. I was actually rooting for him to get his 20th win. I wish the Yankees had a horse like him. He not only pitches complete games and strikes batters out, but he fields his position really well. I want us to buy him, trade for him, kidnap him in the dead of night and smuggle him into the Bronx. I’m jealous of Toronto because they have him and we don’t. Petty of me, but there it is.

A Meaningless Game That Meant Something

Yeah, it did. Phil Hughes proved he can throw eight strong innings without fracturing a rib. Abreu showed he can slug a grand slam after going 0-for-4 against A.J. Burnett. And Xavier the Savior demonstrated his versatility at the plate by driving in two runs with a regular old single – i.e. he didn’t swing for the fences. And the Yankees beat the Jays in 10 innings! That makes seven straight wins for a team that’s already been eliminated! Yay!

O.K. So I’m going a little bit overboard. Hardly anybody was at the Rogers Centre tonight (you could hear what every drunk was yelling), and the real action was in cities with teams that are still fighting for a playoff spot. So what? I enjoyed myself! Girardi used Gardner, Miranda, Ransom, and Moeller and it was sort of like watching a spring training game where there’s no pressure. Instead of sitting silently in my chair like a nervous wreck, I made conversation with my husband for a change.
“I like you better when you’re not so uptight,” he said.
See? The game tonight meant something.