June 2009

She-Fan Exclusive: Scouting Report On Mariners

Fresh off the sweep of the Mets, the Yankees face another injury-riddled team.

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I’m such an ancient mariner that I still remember when they were called the Pilots, talk about a lame logo.
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Without Beltre at third, Chavez in left and Betancourt at short, their whole left side is hurting.
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Even so, they could be dangerous. We should take nothing for granted and absolutely not come out looking like flu victims.
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OK. Here we go. They’ll be changing their lineup around, but these are the main characters.
1) Ichiro Suzuki.
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Obviously, he’s a great outfielder as well as a hitting machine. I think he’s got an 11-game streak right now. And his current average is a sick .372. But that routine he does at the plate – the sleeve tugging, the bat pointing, the whole drama – is really annoying. Tip to Yankees: The pitchers should step off the rubber and stall in order to screw up his timing.
2) Russell Branyan.

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He’s played for the Indians, the Reds, the Brewers, the Padres, the (Devil) Rays, the Phillies, and the Cardinals – almost as many teams as LaTroy Hawkins. Now, he’s the Mariners’ first baseman and he’s batting .303 with 19 homers. He’s also struck out 73 times. Tip to Yankees: Throw him nothing but high cheddar.
3) Jose Lopez.
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A happy-looking Venezuelan who covers second or third base, he tied a Major League record last year with three sac flies in one game. Tip to Yankees: Try to get him to hit the ball on the ground.
4) Ronny Cedeno.

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Another Venezuela native and former Cub, he’s taken over the shortstop role in Betancourt’s absence. Although he had his first career grand slam in ’08, he’s batting .133. Tip to Yankees: Don’t walk him.
5) Kenji Johjima.
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The Mariners’ catcher, Kenji (I love saying his name out loud for some reason) has a museum in his honor in his hometown of Sasebo, Japan, despite only having a .269 career batting average. Tip to Yankees: Show him respect by spinning him off the plate now and then.


6) Franklin Gutierrez.

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Yet another Venezuelan, he played for the Indians before becoming the Mariners’ center fielder. In 2008, he swung at the first pitch only 11.8% of the time, the fifth lowest in the AL. Tip to Yankees: Throw him first pitch strikes.
7) Wladimir Balentien.

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No, I didn’t misspell this outfielder’s first name. It starts with a “W” but is pronounced “Vladimir.” He’s from the island of Curacao and played for the Netherlands in the WBC, and now he’s filling in for the ailing Endy Chavez and hitting .230. Tip to Yankees: He’s no Vladie, as in Guerrero.


8) Chris Woodward.

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He was originally signed by the Blue Jays and did time with the Mets, and is one of those guys who’s played every position except catcher. A few years ago, he was the first Toronto shortstop to hit three homers in a game. Tip to Yankees: Keep the ball down and away.


9) Ken Griffey Jr.

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First of all, am I the only one who didn’t know his real first name is George? And I still don’t get why he has a thing against the Yanks; that story about his father isn’t the stuff of post traumatic stress syndrome. He’s hitting a paltry .218 as the DH, and yet he’s “Junior” and he’s HOF bound. Tip to Yankees: Let him crank one out in a game if we’re leading by a lot.


I’d make a prediction for this series, but I’m too superstitious.
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P.S. Programming note: The segment I taped for the YES Network’s “Yankees Magazine” about my book will start airing this Wednesday, July 1. I think the show is broadcast twice a day for a week – at 11:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET – so my friends in New York need to tell me if they see it. I don’t get YES out here in California except for the actual Yankees games, so I asked the producer to send me a copy of the show. Maybe I can upload it and post it at some point.

There Are Closers And There Are Closers

K-Rod…
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…walked Mo with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth tonight to put the Yankees up by two runs and hand Mo his first RBI ever.
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And then Mo finished off the Mets in their half inning for the Yankees’ 4-2 victory, the series sweep and his milestone 500th career save.
After he notched the final out, there was no fist pumping, no theatrics, just his customary classy, humble demeanor. His teammates gathered around to congratulate him, and I sat in my living room sobbing like a sentimental fool.
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Mo is my favorite Yankee, and I was touched by the outpouring of affection for him.
So while an actual ball game did take place at Citi Field – Wang got his first win of the year, the bats struck early against Livan Hernandez, Cano was horrible in the clutch, Hughes was impressive in relief, the Mets looked absolutely hapless – this one was about Mo.
And we go around the horn.
From Newsday…
From the Daily News…

Mariano Rivera earns 500th save as Yankees sweep Mets

From MLB.com…

From the New York Times…
Milestone for Rivera and Sweep for Yanks

I hope he’s celebrating with some champagne. He said on ESPN tonight that he doesn’t even drink coffee, but maybe he’s having a little toast with his pals. Here’s one from me, Mo:
“Thanks for all those saves (and even the non-saves). Don’t ever retire. We need you. Here’s to your continued good health.”
Clink.

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Enter Sandman…

Weak, Feverish And Delirious With Flu, Yanks Still Beat Mets

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The bug that’s been sweeping the Yankees’ clubhouse has now claimed nine victims among the players and coaches, including its latest, Johnny Damon.
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Hasn’t anybody heard of this?
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Or this?
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Or even this?
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The point is that even without Jeter, Damon and a full-strength Melky, Cano and Matsui, the Yanks made the Mets look like the ones who needed a blood transfusion.
AJ Burnett was as nasty as I remember him as a Blue Jay, inducing 10 Ks and allowing only one hit over seven innings. One hit.

Go ahead and pump that fist, AJ. You earned it.


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He was helped by impressive plays by Pena and two amazing catches by Melky, who robbed Murphy in the second and fifth innings.
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On the offensive side, the bats were again in evidence. Swisher’s solo shot in the third was really all the Yanks needed.
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But why not pile on with a few more runs in the sixth and send Redding, the Mets’ starter, to the showers?
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After Tex doubled…
A-Rod singled up the middle on the first pitch.
Cano doubled off the wall on the first pitch.
Posada smacked a three-run homer on the first pitch.
5-0 Yankees.
Bruney and Robertson set down the Mets in order in the eighth and ninth, and that was all she wrote, as they say.
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I realize that the Mets are playing without their big guns, except for Wright, but they have the same beaten down look the Yankees had last week. Maybe they need a visit from their GM, like we got from ours.
On the other hand, I’m perfectly fine with sweeping them Sunday night. Everybody has made such a big deal about how hard it is to hit homers at Citi Field, as opposed to the “bandbox” in the Bronx. So how come we’ve waltzed in there and hit four so far?
Because it doesn’t matter where you play. If you’re hot, you’re hot.

CC Ran The Bases And The Earth Moved

He threw 98 mph. He didn’t walk a single batter. And he struck out eight en route to the Yankees 9-1 victory over the Mets. He also had an RBI single and scored during the Mets’ error-filled meltdown in the second. I could feel the ground shake as he chugged home. He’s as big as The Fridge, isn’t he?
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Anyway, it was a masterful performance, marred only by Sheffield’s blast, and I hope he doesn’t catch the bug that claimed Jeter, the birthday boy, who was scratched from the lineup with a bad cough.
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Other than CC, the hero of the night was Brett the Jet, who is insanely fast and could probably win a race with this guy.
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Five-for-five with a homer, a triple and a stolen base? How hug-worthy was that?
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Damon continued to excel (great dive/slide on that catch of Cora’s pop up in the first). 
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Cano played good ball in spite of his various ailments. And Pena had a couple of doubles, subbing for Jeter. But how about A-Rod. He’s looked like a different player in the last few games. Maybe it’s the day off he had during the week or the hip that’s finally healing or the fact that Kate Hudson is following him around the country and bringing him luck instead of jinxing him.
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All I know is he made several nice plays at third and passed Reggie on the all-time home run list.
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I wonder why the Mets’ defense goes all loosey-goosey when they face the Yanks. That second inning was like a bloopers reel. Maybe it’s because of their lame old theme song. Here’s Bob Costas singing it. Not good at all.
P.S. I’m sad about Nady. I thought he’d have a big year for us. And now he’s done.
Goodbye, X-Man. It was fun while you lasted.
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A Game That Felt Like A Doubleheader

“Is it over yet?” I said to my husband when the Yankees jumped out to an 8-1 lead.

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“It’s only the fourth inning,” he said, then nodded out. Before I knew it, he was starting to snore.
It was that kind of a game. Sloppy. Long. Perfect for switching over to CNN during the commercials to watch clips of Michael Jackson.
Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was in northern Santa Barbara County, and my local journalists covered his trial on a daily basis. To people here, he wasn’t the king of pop but yet another celebrity who had lost his way.
Moonwalk in peace, MJ.
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Speaking of celebrities losing their way, A-Rod seems to have found his. He was swinging the bat better on Wednesday and turned it up another notch tonight. That solo shot in the first was nice, but his bases-loaded single in the seventh was a thing of beauty.
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(Like Jacko, he, too, wears a white glove when he performs.)
It was a good night for Al, who tied Reggie’s home run record, knocked in four runs and seemed unusually pumped up.
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It was not such a good night for Pettitte. He wasn’t as ineffective as Derek Lowe, but he had a huge lead and nearly gave it away – grounds for this.
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I don’t know why Girardi didn’t use Phil Hughes in relief, but I’ve given up trying to figure out everybody’s role in the pen.
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I’m just glad Mo got his 499th save and the Yanks beat the Braves 11-7. It wasn’t pretty, and Swisher, Damon and Jeter looked like deer in the headlights at times. Oh, and Gardner spazzed out on that ball hit by the Devil Wears Prado.
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But a win is a win, and the best news is that the offense is back! We can hit again! We remembered what to do with the bats!
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Now we must be excellent against the Mets this weekend. I’m predicting we win two out of three. If that’s going out on a limb, so be it.
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Yankees Win; Hunger Strike Off

On Twitter today I announced that I would go on a hunger strike until the Yankees halted their slide and won a game. No pasta with portobello mushroom sauce. No grilled turkey burgers. No Pepperidge Farm Double Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies, my favorite indulgence.
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I was prepared to waste away for as many days and weeks as it took for my team to remember how to use their bats – anything to bring awareness to the cause and stop the madness.
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But the Yankees beat the Braves 8-4, and I ate a delicious dinner. No strike necessary.
What a relief to get a “W” after all those rotten losses. Joba went six-plus without walking anybody and only spazzed out in the seventh with that error on Johnson’s bunt.
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And he knocked out Kawakami, the Braves’ starter, in the third by lining a comebacker directly at his carotid artery without causing irreparable harm. Hard to do!
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Let’s see. So many others to thank for this victory (not counting Cashman for shipping Veras to Cleveland and DFA-ing Berroa).
Thanks to first base umpire Bill Welke for his bonehead call on the non-pickoff of Gardner in the sixth. Bill, you rock! If you’d actually had the lasik surgery, you wouldn’t have gotten Girardi mad enough to argue.
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Instead, you blew the call and threw him out of the game, which was positively inspired (and inspiring).
Only moments later, the Cisco Kid smacked his first major league homer to tie the score 1-1. It was the Yankees’ first run since the dawn of early man.
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Thanks to Jeter and Damon for their back-to-back singles in the inning, to Tex for his walk to load the bases, and to A-Rod for coming through with a two-run hit that put the Yanks up 3-1 and saved me from having to starve myself.
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Thank you to an Atlanta reliever named Bennett, who served one up to Swisher for a just-barely homer that made it 4-1 and possibly saved Nick’s job.
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It was a little nerve-wracking in the bottom of the frame when Joba gave up an RBI single to the guy who pinch-hit for Bennett (his name is Prado, but I call him The Devil Wears Prado) for 4-2. Then Coke replaced Joba, and McLouth launched a deep sac fly for 4-3. By the way, McLouth is impressive. As much as I like Nady, why didn’t we get The Good Pirate, who also happens to look like Matt Damon?
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There was more merriment in the top of the eighth as we scored another couple of runs. But what was up with Bruney? Could he have taken any longer between pitches? Talk about laboring.
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Then along came Mo, who gets a thank you just for his existence.
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Not only did he strike out all four batters he faced in the eighth/ninth, but he came up to bat and lined one into the outfield. His teammates thought it was hilarious.
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Anyhow, thanks again to all of the above for helping me avert the hunger strike. I would have done it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to. I’m not planning to grow a mustache in solidarity either, so the Yankees shouldn’t even try going on another losing streak.
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She-Fan Exclusive: The Yankees Have Been Stolen!

Remember the 2009 Bombers? Those cheerful, talented, pie-loving, We-Have-Chemistry people who brought us thrilling, come-from-behind walkoff victories?

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They’re gone.
Vanished into thin air.
Vaporized.
The ones who wore the interlocking N-Y on their caps during tonight’s terrifyingly boring 4-0 loss to the Braves – the men who bore striking physical resemblances to Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, etc. – were not the real Yankees; they were impostors.
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How did this happen? She-Fan has learned that at some point during the series at Fenway, aliens swooped down from another galaxy, snatched the real Yankees in the dead of night, carted them away one by one to several space ships anchored in the Charles River, and replaced them with pods. Yes, pods. There is no other possible explanation.
How else to account for their “offensive malaise,” as Peter Abraham called it tonight
Wang wasn’t bad. Under normal circumstances, he would have pitched well enough to win.
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But the real Yankees were replaced, so instead of watching the regular Posada, we were forced to watch the pod Posada. Just look at him. You can tell he’s a pod. He doesn’t even blink his eyes. No wonder he struck out four times.
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I believe that A-Rod was the first to be abducted by the aliens. Sure, he goes through the motions now and acts as if he’s the real A-Rod, but it’s obvious he’s been tampered with. Notice the transformation from his first day back from the DL when he hit a homer and was feeling pretty swell…
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…to his more recent at-bats during which he appears hostile to the mere idea of driving the ball.
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I’m beginning to think that Swisher was always a pod who only lured us into thinking he was a good player, but it’s just plain painful not to see Jeter come through in the clutch. That GIDP in the fifth convinced me that he’d been snatched by aliens, wrapped in a towel and brought to a location far, far away.
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I won’t even bother talking about the others. They’ve become pods, pure and simple, even Tex.
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How will the situation be remedied? Will the real Yankees be restored to their own bodies? Can this team be saved?
Yes, but only if three things occur on Wednesday night:
* They get more than 4 hits.
* They don’t leave 12 men on base.
* They become infuriated by fans who do the tomahawk chop.
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P.S. I succumbed to pressure and got a Twitter account today. My user name is SheFanJane. Apparently, SheFan was already taken by an imposter – a pod, perhaps.

Calling All She-Fans!

If you live in the New York area and enjoy minor league baseball, you absolutely must go to see the Hudson Valley Renegades (Class A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) take on the Staten Island Yankees (Class A Affiliate of the New York Yankees) on Tuesday, July 7th. 
Why? Because history will be made that night. Here’s the event poster.
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Yes, women will be the stars of the evening as the Renegades welcome only the “better half” to the ballpark.
According to the team’s press release:
“On this evening, all men will be greeted in their own separate zone outside the gates, with only female fans permitted inside until the game is official at the 5th inning mark. All boys, seven and under, will be allowed entry at any time – the Renegades’ homage to Momma’s boys everywhere.”

There’s more.
“Ladies, venture out to Dutchess Stadium on July 7th for this celebration of femininity and independence, as the Hudson Valley Renegades will honor some of the most powerful and successful women working in baseball. Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch will be New York Yankees Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Jean Afterman, one of the most respected and influential executives in Major League Baseball.”


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The “Ball-Less Baseball” campaign was designed to create a night out at the ballpark solely for women. According to Tyler Tumminia, the team’s marketing VP: “We have recognized the significant buying power that women have wielded within our parks for several years, and have seen the growth of females within our industry skyrocket along the same timeline. We wanted to both thank them for their support and empower them to continue their rapid ascent within our ranks.”
So glad she-fans are being recognized with this great promotion. My favorite part (not counting that “Confessions of a She-Fan” will be given a shout-out on the video screen) is that women will be able to receive a full spa treatment while watching the game. Can you picture it?
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Be one of the first 2,500 fans through the gates at 6 p.m. and you’ll receive a special commemorative coin courtesy of the New York Lottery. For tickets and info, visit the Renegades’ web site at http://www.hvrenegades.com.
To set the mood, here’s an old clip of Aretha Franklin doing her thing.
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Speaking of respect, the Yankees need to earn some by beating the Braves. We’ve matched up favorably against them in the past, but history means nothing if:
* Cano tries to pull everything.
* Jeter grounds into double plays.
* Matsui takes weak hacks.
* Swisher strikes out looking.
* A-Rod doesn’t drive the ball.
* Gardner gets on base but doesn’t steal.
* Damon drops routine fly balls.
* Melky uncorks a wild one.
* Girardi overuses Coke.
* Bombko makes an appearance.
* Wang still can’t figure it out.
I predict none of the above will happen. In fact, I think the Yankees will kick off a nice, long winning streak that will carry them right into the All-Star Break, knock the Red Sox out of first place, and make me sorry I ever yelled at them in my living room.
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Slumping

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The Yankees are falling on their faces, as evidenced by today’s 6-5 loss to the Marlins, yesterday’s 2-1 defeat, and lackluster efforts against the Nationals and Mets. And while I’m not panicking – they’ve been in much worse shape than this – I’m not at all amused. Why? Take today, for instance.
#1. CC had to leave in the second inning with tendinitis in his biceps.
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#2. The Yankees’ bats looked like they were made of this. (Picture of Swiss cheese.)

#3. After Aceves pitched brilliantly in relief of CC, Bombko lived up to his nickname.
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#4. Melky tried to throw out Hanley Ramirez at home, but the ball traveled into another state entirely.
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#5. Joe Girardi cleverly caught the Marlins asleep at the wheel, pointed out their lineup blunder to the umps, got De Aza thrown out of the game and then watched Jeter, Swisher and Teixeira go down in order. He played the game under protest.
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#6. A-Rod hit a single that scored two runs, but otherwise appeared as fatigued as the day before. I’ve decided it’s Kate Hudson’s fault and I want her to go back to one of her previous boyfriends.


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#7. That ninth-inning rally against the Marlins’ closer that began with singles by Posada and Melky, resulted in two runs thanks to Gardner’s gapper, and continued with the walk to Damon ended with Jeter’s annoying habit of first-pitch swinging. THE GUY JUST WALKED DAMON! TAKE A PITCH, DEREK!


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Maybe the Yankees will have better luck against the Braves, but somebody needs to step up.
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Miami Vice

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Maybe if those two had pinch hit for Posada and Cano in the ninth, the Yankees would have come back to beat the Marlins. Anybody would have been better than Jorge, who popped up with Tex on first, and Cano, who grounded into a double play (which he also did in the ninth against the Nationals on Wednesday).
Instead, the Yanks went down 2-1. It was a pitcher’s duel between the Marlins’ hard-throwing young giant, who was actually good as opposed to lucky,
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and AJ, who was very good but very unlucky.
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Not only were his teammates’ bats silent, but his three outfielders had adventurous interactions with fly balls due, supposedly, to Land Shark Stadium’s bright lights.
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Swisher caught Coghlan’s line drive in the first but was clearly blinded.
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In the fourth, Melky let Ramirez’s ball drop in front of him for a single, which made him look awfully clumsy.
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And Damon was charged with an error after failing to catch Cantu’s liner in the sixth, turning a routine out into an interesting slide.
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The game did have its positives:
Posada nailed Ramirez and Bonifacio trying to steal second.
AJ went six-plus, striking out eight.
Coke and Hughes threw perfect innings in relief.
I’m really beginning to appreciate Phil Hughes in the pen. He seems much freer, less of a nibbler, as a reliever. What an asset he could be down the stretch.
I’m not sure why A-Rod was pinch-hitting in the eighth. I thought he was resting, which means not picking up a bat or going in to play third base. Is it really that hard to follow doctor’s orders?
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And what was up with those cowbells the Marlins handed out to fans at the game? Aren’t they a Rays thing?
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The funniest line of the game came from YES’s Paul O’Neill: “I love sports. They’re so much better than reading a book because you never know what’s going to happen.”
I love sports myself, Paulie, but memo to you: books have surprising plot twists too. Have you ever heard of Ludlum? Grisham? Jane Heller?
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