June 2010

Sometimes You Just Have To Tip Your Cap

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I hate it when the Yankees are shut out. I hate it when they don’t get on base. I hate it when they look anemic with every swing. I hate it when Jeter says, “Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the pitcher,” because sometimes the pitcher is a nobody who’s simply had the good fortune to catch the Yanks on a bad day. But tonight? I’m tipping my cap to Felix Hernandez.
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He made everybody look spazzy. I mean, two hits? Really? And he was so efficient about it. The guy had eleven strikeouts and three walks over nine innings. Cliff Lee pitched a completo last night, but the Yankees offense had chances. Not in this game. Not after the first inning. Of course, it’s hard to mount a comeback against anybody, let alone a pitcher of King Felix’s caliber, when your starter gives up two homers, your lefty specialist gives up one and your long reliever gives up another. Franklin Gutierrez left the game with an upset stomach, and our pitching gave me one too. 
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But here’s the thing. We’re in first place – by a thread, but still – and it’s a whole lot better than being in the cellar like the Mariners.
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I Want Cliff Lee

And not just because he and the Mariners beat the Yankees tonight. Well, he beat the Yankees minus Nick Swisher, who beat him with two homers.
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And not because Phil Huuuuughes had an off night. It’s not even because Lee has now thrown three complete games in a row. (OK, yes, that’s part of it. I love pitchers who hang in there.) It’s because I still haven’t forgotten the pop up during the World Series. Remember? There he was, pitching a gem for the Phillies, when the ball was hit in the air and – without blinking – he stuck out his glove in the most nonchalant way and caught it.
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The guy doesn’t get rattled, is as cool as they come, is completely comfortable on the big stage. I had the Mariners TV feed tonight, and after the game they interviewed Lee.
“I enjoy pitching with the big crowds in New York,” he said. “They know baseball here. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them when to cheer.”
I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of what he said. He likes New York. He’s not afraid to pitch at the Stadium. He’s proven it over and over. Is he perfect? Of course not. Do we already have enough pitching? Depends on whether A.J. pulls out of his funk, not to mention if Andy stays healthy down the road. Would we have to give up lots of prospects? Not if he’s signed as a free agent. What I’m saying is that if there’s a Cliff Lee Sweepstakes coming up, I want the Yankees to be in it.
I mean, just picture it. Instead of that guy shaking his hand, it would be Cashman. Sweet.
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Off-Day Entertainment: Doc Ellis Goes Tripping

When Dave, friend of the blog, sent me the link to this video, I figured today’s off-day would be the perfect time to post it. It has nothing to do with anything Yankees (well, except that Doc Ellis was briefly in pinstripes). Mostly, I was in the mood for a break. Last night’s win against the Dodgers was exhausting. Plus I’m not interested in trying to guess how swollen Brett Gardner’s arm/wrist is or whether he or Nick Swisher will make the All Star team. So here’s the blog – a tribute to the Pirates pitcher who claimed he threw a no-hitter while he was high on LSD. As I said, it’s apropos of nothing, but makes me laugh nevertheless. For those who’ve never seen it, enjoy and back to business tomorrow.

Torre Story 3

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The third and final game in the Yankees’ series against the Dodgers was one of the most exciting contests of the season, in my opinion. Gone was the nonstop chatter about Torre leaving New York and A-Rod not talking to him and blah-blah-blah past history. Well, ESPN couldn’t resist bringing up “the soap opera,” as they called it, but once the game turned into a nail-biter, it was all baseball. After stinking up the early innings – how many bunts could Pettitte not handle? – the offense and relief pitching got serious. Robertson and Marte did their jobs (Joba, not so much) so that A-Rod could pop one into the seats and put the Yanks on the board. We were down 6-3 in the ninth when Torre brought in Broxton.
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Yeah, he’s large, but he’s not Mo. A parade of hits greeted him, including a huge at bat by Chad Huffman. I know, I wasn’t thrilled to have Huffman up in that situation either. He’s just a kid we got off San Diego’s scrap heap.
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But he came through big time to pull us to 6-5. Clap Clap Clap, Chad. I take back what I said about you on Twitter.
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My boy Colin Curtis was up next, and his ground out after about 1,000 pitches (I exaggerate, but he really worked that at bat, didn’t he?) sent Granderson scurrying home (thank you, Loney, for not making the play at home). Wow. All tied up. My stomach was in one big knot.
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Why was I so nervous? I mean, Mo was on the hill. What drama could possibly take place? Especially when the normally placid Garret Anderson was batting.
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Oh. G.A. didn’t like Chris Guccione’s strike zone and got tossed. Torre came out to have his say, and he and the Guccione went at it – for like ever. Was Joe really that upset or was it a bit of gamesmanship to disrupt Mo’s rhythm? No matter. Mo took care of business. On to the 10th and George Sherrill.
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Maybe his beard distracted him, or maybe Robinson Cano is just that good. All I know is that Cano’s homer put the Yanks up 8-6, capping an improbable six-run rally. Mo was a hammer again in the 10th – and again the Dodger hitters weren’t happy. This time Russell Martin slammed down his bat in anger, nearly hitting Posada with it, and there was more arguing with Guccione.
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I’ve watched Mo fan batters over the years. I get the frustration. But the Yankees won fair and square to finish off a very entertaining series. Bravo.
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Losing Games and Winning Friends

When I found out that A.J. would be pitching on Saturday, I went to Dodger Stadium fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Tex staked us to that nice lead in the first, and I said out loud, “This is gonna be fun!” Wrong. Well, the game itself wasn’t fun. It’s natural to focus on A.J.’s dreadful pitching – please come back, Dave Eiland, wherever you are! – but the offense was pretty lame too, except for that early burst. And when will Girardi accept the fact that Chan Ho Park is perfectly fine for one inning but cannot pitch two? It’s obvious. I know we’re short Aceves and Mitre, but surely somebody else – Gaudin? – was available. Even Cervelli had a lousy day behind the plate. But onto more pleasurable things…
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Michael and I had a great time at the ballpark, game or no game. Yes, we were disappointed to arrive at Dodger Stadium two hours early – only to be told we couldn’t get onto the field for BP because we didn’t have field box tickets. But our seats in the Loge, just to the third base side of home plate, were excellent, and we had no trouble meeting up with our friend Denise, aka @SunnySoCal on Twitter. To say she’s an A-Rod fan is wildly understating her affection for our third baseman.
Btw, the A-Rod/Twilight reference is courtesy of his appearance at the LA premiere of the movie the other night. 
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How did Michael get those delicious Dodger dogs, you might ask? Not at the concession stand. We had our own personal caterer — fellow MLBlogger and Dodger fan extraordinaire Cat of Cat Loves the Dodgers. She was too shy to let me put her on the She-Fan Cam, so here’s her own blog pic.
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She came over to our seats and handed us boxes of food from the baseline club, where she always sits and has access to incredible eats. She brought us the hot dogs, some pasta salad, some Tri-Tip, grilled veggies, you name it. How sweet was that? Oh, and she also got us a parking pass for the “preferred lot” so we wouldn’t have to walk a long distance to the stadium. A big thank you to her.
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Next came my thwarted cell phone conversations with Peggy, our good Friend of the Blog. We were trying to meet up before the game but it was impossible to hear each other. And she found out – much as we had earlier with BP – that she wasn’t allowed to come down to the Loge section because her ticket was one level above. Aaaargh. But then who showed up to help? Emma of Crz Blue’s Dodger Blue World
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I explained the situation, and Emma offered to be my escort and take me to Peggy! So I left Michael and Denise and went up with Emma to Peggy’s section – only to have Peggy not be there! Aaargh again! Apparently, she had gone to get something to eat. So Emmy cleverly grabbed a Dodger flyer and, after I wrote Peggy a note, tied it to the arm of her empty seat so she would know I was there.
“I have another friend, ladyjane, sitting in the Top Deck,” I told Emma. “Any way you could take me up to see her?”
Not a problem for Emma, who seems to know every nook and cranny of the place. Anyhow, up we went and found ladyjane, who jumped out of her seat to come and talk to us atop Dodger Stadium. Here she is with Emma on the Cam. Nice view of the city in the background, but I apologize in advance for my voice. I sound bizarrely excited, and remind myself of Suzyn Waldman doing her “Roger Clemens is back with the Yankees” thing. (Cringing.)
It was great to see ladyjane, but I never did get to see Peggy, which was a bummer. We were like two ships passing in the night. A big thank you to Emma for taking the time to help out.
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Somewhere around the fifth inning, while we were drowning our sorrows in some tasty beer, Denise and I got a tweet from some Twitter Yankee friends, @amandarykoff and @Stefmara, and joined them for a tweet-up.
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The amazing thing for me is without having met such great fans I would have been sulking about the Yankees loss. Instead, I spent the long drive back to Santa Barbara thinking how lucky I am that baseball has brought so many wonderful new people into my life.

Long Drive Home…

So I didn’t have time to post pics, video and thoughts about my day/night at Dodger Stadium. We all know what happened in the game – ugh – but lots more tomorrow after I’ve had a little sleep. 

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Round One Goes To The Yanks

It’s late so I’ll just post some quick thoughts….
* Apparently, after all the years Billy Crystal hung around the Yankees, he was only a Torre fan.
* I really don’t like Padilla. His 53 mph pitch was effective, but I’m not wild about his tendency to plunk my players, then glare at us when we plunk him back.
* CC dominated for eight innings – beastly.
* A-Rod wouldn’t talk about Torre’s book before the game. Instead, he smacked a clutch homer, putting the Yanks on top. The team’s offense was quiet again, but he seems to have revived.
* Manny is still a tough out, but that error in left wasn’t pretty.
* Mo is Mo. Three up. Three K’s. Godly.
* Dodger fans disappointed me. All those “Yankees suck” chants? And booing Mo? Really?
* I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I’ll be at the game and can cheer the Yanks on in person. A.J. might need me, given the way he’s been throwing. If anybody else is going that I don’t know about, I’ll be in 121 Loge, row H! I hope I see a good one!

Thinking About The Dodgers Tonight

After a day of reading about Joe Torre and how he’s glad he wasn’t in the dugout while the Yankees were winning the World Series last year (I find that hard to believe, but whatever), I had the Dodgers on my mind tonight. I was at the speaking gig of my friend, author Joe Parent, who coaches all sorts of professional golfers and wrote the bestseller Zen Golf.
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Before the event, there was a cocktail hour and I struck up a conversation with some of the other guests. Since I don’t play golf, I figured I’d talk about baseball, which led to a discussion of the She-Fan book and this blog. Before I knew it, I was whipping out the She-Fan Cam. It hadn’t been used in awhile and needed the work, just like Mo does sometimes. Plus I wanted it to be sharp for Saturday, when I’ll be down at Dodger Stadium. The room was very noisy so it’s kind of hard to hear my brief chat with a Dodgers fan named Kyle, but he put me in my place after I rudely suggested that his team wasn’t doing so well.
May the best team win this weekend, Kyle.
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I Almost Lost My Sanity Tonight

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And I doubt I’m the only one. If you stayed up to watch the finale of Yanks-Diamondbacks, you’re with me. What a crazy game. It started off with Dontrelle Willis walking SEVEN batters and yet the Yankees kept screwing up scoring opportunities with lousy at bats and base-running blunders. Cano, who’s been genius for us, had an off night at the plate (for him), and Jeter and Posada (pinch hitting) were frustrating. Vazquez wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, and Marte? Please. How can you call yourself a reliever when you come in and walk two, balk and throw a wild pitch? How? That’s the opposite of relief, Damaso.
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The happy news is that the Yankees, who’d been trailing, tied the score on a hit by – yes, indeed, Colin Curtis – and, after Marte stank it up, a sac fly by A-Rod pulled them even again. And then it was on to extra innings! (Sorry for you, east coasters.)
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A solo shot by Granderson gave us the lead in the 10th – nice night for him, btw – and with Mo coming in for a second inning of work I figured we were golden. Not so fast! Mo actually loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 10th! I nearly died.
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But then – instead of giving everybody nightmarish flashbacks to 2001 – he pulled out a miracle, retiring the side as if it were no big deal. The Yankees won the game and the series – and gained ground on the Rays and Red Sox. I’ll sleep well, I think, once I calm down.

Colin! Colin! Colin!

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Yes, I know there were other heroes from tonight’s win over the D-Backs, but Curtis was a favorite of mine in spring training so it was fun to see him get his first major league hit. Actually, that whole inning was fun. Once we got rid of Haren, the Yankees feasted off the deservedly maligned Arizona bullpen.
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Single! Single! Single! Home runs are great, but it was very satisfying to see the boys pounding out base hits too. Nice power from A-Rod tonight, excellent pitching by Pettitte (again – the guy is amazing) and a very relaxing game that became even more so in the eighth. I was out for dinner with friends for most of it, but came home and watched the replay – the perfect dessert.
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