July 2010

I Don’t Mean to Sound Crabby…

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…but I’m just not a fan of the Home Run Derby. I enjoyed seeing Swisher for the 10 seconds he was in the batter’s box…and Cano laughing and cheering for him…and Pettitte holding his adorable kid on his lap…and A-Rod doing a mini-interview. It’s just that having to watch hitters essentially take batting practice and listening to Chris Berman say “Back back back” over and over isn’t my idea of a great time. I’ll be looking forward to the actual game tomorrow night, and that’ll be enough for me until we get back to the pennant race.
In the meantime, speaking of blue crabs, I wanted to pass along info about a fun new book called “What the Great Ate: A Curious History of Food and Fame” by Matthew Jacob and Mark Jacob. Did you know that Ken Griffey Jr. was allergic to the candy bar named after him? That Ted Williams used to time his hotel room service with a stopwatch? That Roberto Clemente was nearly killed by robbers but ended up with a box of takeout chicken? Take a look at the authors’ web site for more anecdotes.

At the Break: My State of the Universe Address

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On the eve of the All Star break, I thought it was the perfect time to assess the state of the Yankees Universe and discuss what needs to be done to insure a successful second half. Here goes…
“With the best record in baseball, the Yankees are already on a pace to win it all – again.”
“Our starting rotation is strong, Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee.”
“The Captain is perking up at the plate. He just has to stop swinging at first pitches.”
“Swisher is a better #2 than Nick Johnson ever would have been.”
“Tex is finally heating up – for real – and his defense has been outstanding.”
“A-Rod keeps knocking in runs. And HR #600 will quickly lead to #601, #602, #603, etc.”
“Is there really anything Robinson Cano can’t do this season?”
“Having Posada healthy means that Cervelli can go back to being a good backup.”
“Granderson has been somewhat disappointing so far at the plate. More productivity would go a long way toward making people stop wishing AJax would suddenly re-appear.”
“Marcus Thames isn’t useless after all. It turns out he’s a decent DH/pinch hitter.”
“Brett Gardner is the most exciting Yankee in years. He has to keep getting on base though.”
“Mo is Mo – a precious asset never to be taken for granted.”
“Dave Robertson has pitched better lately, but more consistency would be helpful.”
“Chan Ho Park is OK for one inning maybe – but that is all.”
“Damaso Marte doesn’t scare me as much as he did early in the season.”
“Joba….Well, if Joe keeps running him out there in the 8th I’ll need a defibrillator. He must be fixed or I won’t make it through the rest of the season.”
“Chad Gaudin is not Alfredo Aceves. Alfredo Aceves is no longer Alfredo Aceves. Therefore, we need a better long man.”
“We need another reliable arm out of the pen, period – someone not named Jonathan Albaladejo.”
“We need a bat off the bench. I love Ramiro Pena and Colin Curtis, but are they the players I want to see pinch hitting in a big game? Nah.”
“We need better communication between the Yankees and the media when it comes to player injuries. No more ‘Yes, he’s hurt. No, he’s not hurt.’ Just tell us.”
“It’s not necessary to have the grounds crew dance to ‘YMCA’ anymore. It really isn’t.”
“Where’s Hank Steinbrenner? And why isn’t he firing off Steinbrennerisms this year?”
“Why can’t YES re-hire David Cone and phase out John ‘the Snooze’ Flaherty?”
“We need to keep Dave Eiland from ever leaving the team again.”
“And finally, there should be more Yankees merchandise for she-fans – from Yankees lipstick to Yankees nail polish (the same color Jorge wears) and especially Yankees hair products. I mean, who wouldn’t want pinstriped hair?”
 

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That concludes my address. God Bless America and God Bless the New York Yankees.
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Bob Sheppard: Rest In Peace (With A Special New Pic)

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A sad, sad day in Yankeeville. That is all.
P.S. Diane, our Friend of the Blog, sent me this photo of Bob Sheppard. She and her daughter, Marisa, were lucky enough to meet him. Thanks, Diane.
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Why, Joba. Why?

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Why are you frowning in your official Yankees photo?
Why have you taken the 8th inning role you were handed and done nothing with it?
Why did you ruin Javy Vazquez’s fantastic performance against the Mariners tonight?
Why couldn’t you hold a one-run lead?
Why did you give King Felix the opportunity to celebrate on the mound?
Why did you make me so mad I almost broke my non-3D TV?
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While it’s true that the offense was anemic, except for Nick Swisher’s lonely little homer, that the home plate umpire made a couple of atrocious calls, and that the Yankees can’t win every game they play, I’m pinning this loss directly on you. Thanks.
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Cliff Lee Broke My Heart and I Don’t Even Know Him

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When I woke up this morning and read that the Yankees were thisclose to signing Lee, I jumped out of my chair and started cheering. The news was so unexpected. I never thought we were in the Cliff Lee hunt – at least not now. As the day went on, I walked around with a little spring in my step, knowing that instead of facing Lee tonight in Seattle, he would be pitching for us any day. He even called his friend CC and talked to him about where to live in New Jersey once he was in pinstripes. 
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But oh well. The Mariners spurned the Yankees’ offer and sent Lee to Texas. If he doesn’t wilt in the Arlington heat, maybe we’ll have another shot at him in December.
Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to roll here on the west coast (I’m really trying to take good care of them). Phil Huuuuuughes was excellent over seven innings, and the offense gave him nice run support thanks to A-Rod’s sac fly, a triple by Cano and two homers by Tex (one from each side), Chan Ho Park made things interesting in the ninth, but got it done. The Yanks have now won seven straight. Would there have been a “W” if we’d faced Cliff Lee? Who knows. Who cares. Not me. Not anymore. I’m over him.
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I’m So Glad LeBron Isn’t a Yankee

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He can root for the boys all he wants, but after that travesty on ESPN tonight I have no interest in his career. Was “The Decision” really necessary? Like millions of other suckers, I watched and waited and wondered why James couldn’t have just told the media which team he’d picked instead of creating such a cringe-worthy spectacle. But enough of that.
Congrats to Nick Swisher!!!! Melissa, our Friend of the Blog, said she voted for him 700 times. Can anyone top that? I’m so happy for him and proud of the fans who sent him to Anaheim.
Sweet win for the Yanks tonight – that’s six in a row. It was quite the pitcher’s duel at Safeco with Andy showing what a warrior he is, going eight innings with nine K’s. Amazing. The score was tied at 1-1 for what seemed like an eternity; our offense kept stranding runners and making me nuts. But with Jeter and Swisher on base in the ninth, up stepped A-Rod. Base hit. Two runs scored. Is the guy clutch or what? I was wary when Mo took the mound, given all the talk about his ailments, but he looked fine to me. After the game, Jack Curry interviewed A-Rod and reminded him that 16 years ago on this day he played his first game as a Mariner. Asked for his reaction, A-Rod said, “A lot’s happened since then.” I’ll say.
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I Love Sweeps

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Last night the formula was CC + A-Rod = Victory. Tonight it was A.J. + Tex/Swisher = Victory. I know people don’t want to make too much of Dave Eiland’s return to the team, but it’s not a coincidence that A.J. has looked like a different pitcher since Eiland came back. He’s gone from God awful and grouchy…
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…to focused and fabulous.
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Sure, A.J.’s defense helped him out tonight (sometimes I just sit there and marvel at the plays Tex makes – I guess I didn’t realize he was that good), but his stuff was nasty and the Oakland hitters were overmatched. Luckily, the Yankees hitters weren’t. They worked Gio’s pitch count up and then pounced. Tex’s three-run shot got things going, but what a night for Swisher. A single, double, homer and a walk? Not too shabby for the All Star candidate. (Did we really get him for Wilson Betemit? I’m still pinching myself.)
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Even Ramiro Pena (I groaned when I saw Cano was out of the lineup – his back better not be all that sore) had a couple of hits. Marte and Joba did their jobs in the eighth and ninth, and that was the ball game. Oh, well there was one other moment that must be mentioned. Somebody ended up being very embarrassed.
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A-Rod overran a pop-up in foul territory and dropped the ball – and himself.
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He went face down onto the field, and it didn’t take long before Jeter was laughing hysterically. After A-Rod got up, the two of them kept cracking up and I couldn’t help smiling too.
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(Thanks to caitlin on Twitter for the screen grab.)
So for those east coasters who missed the game, it was basically more of the same: good pitching, hitting and defense – a pleasure to watch.

CC + A-Rod = Victory

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Once again, the Yankees beat the A’s in the most basic way: dominant pitching, excellent defense and timely hitting. CC amazes me. Even when he looks like he’s laboring, he manages to strike out ten, go seven-plus innings and get the “W.” A-Rod called him a horse in his post-game interview with Jack Curry, and he’s certainly durable. But I think of him as solid, as in this.
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A-Rod’s grand slam was the big offensive story, and his solo shot later pulled him to within three homers of 600. Will he hit the milestone in Seattle, the Yankees’ next stop? And if so, how awkward would that be, since the fans there haven’t forgiven him for leaving? My suggestion would be to stick to base hits and doubles until the team is back in New York, where he’ll get a better reception.
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OK, so we won the game and, except for Tex getting plunked and writhing in pain and Posada taking yet another ball off his hand, nobody went on the DL. That’s something. However – and this is a huge however – Mo isn’t going to the All Star game because he’s hurt! Don’t ask me why he didn’t tell anybody and how he kept pitching as well as he did. Apparently, his oblique injury that happened in May didn’t fully heal, and he screwed up his knee during warm ups at Dodger Stadium. This news freaked me out, I must admit.
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Supposedly, he just feels banged up and needs the rest. But still. He’s our jewel.
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Get well, Mo. The show in Anaheim will go on without you. It just won’t be the same.
P.S. Here’s a pic sent in by Friend of the Blog, cheshirecat. He and his Yankee fan sister Courtney were at the game over the weekend and had to buy a T-shirt in honor of their new favorite player. Courtney is modeling…
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Quick and Easy Recipe

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Ingredients:
* Really good starting pitching by Javy Vazquez
* Excellent defense by A-Rod and the two Curtises (Grandy and Colin)
* Timely hits by Swisher, Grandy and Cervelli, plus a homer by Tex
* Back-to-back one-two-three innings by Joba and Mo
Mix the above ingredients together and you get a delicious win by the Yanks over Ben Sheets and the A’s – the perfect way to start the road trip.
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A few random thoughts…Congrats to Andy Pettitte for making the All Star team following the injury to Buchholz. He was next on the list of players voted on by other players, so clap clap clap for him….Since Alfredo Aceves is clearly not coming back to the team any time soon, thanks to his latest setback, can Cashman please go out and get us another arm for the pen?…The Brett Gardner leadoff experiment tonight wasn’t wildly successful. He was 0-for-4. Small sample size, I know, but I like him in the #9 spot where there’s less pressure to get on base. He’s been doing a tremendous job there all season, so why not leave him there?…What’s the matter with Dallas Braden? Seriously, how can anyone be mad that the A’s have been selling “Get Off My Mound” T-shirts? Lighten up, guy….And did the Twins really offer the Mariners a couple of prospects for Cliff Lee? If so, does this mean he won’t be a Yankee next year?
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Thanks, Sun

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For the second day in a row, a Jays outfielder lost a ball in the sun and the Yankees benefitted in a big way. The official scorer ruled that Gardner’s shot to center that deflected off Wise’s glove was an inside-the-park homer, which didn’t make sense but was fine with me. What really cheered me was that we tied the score at 5-5 on a day when Huuuughes didn’t have it. Whew.
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I had a feeling we’d win this one, despite the roller-coaster nature of it. Even after three Yankees were thrown out at the plate, even after Mo blew the save (I hate typing those words), even after Dave Robertson gave up a hit and two walks, I sensed victory. What I didn’t expect was that the hero would be Marcus Thames, literally fresh off the DL.
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The Yankees haven’t had a lot of walkoffs this season, but Thames has seen his share of shaving cream. Don’t you love the pleasure A.J. seems to take in smearing his victims?
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What I don’t love is that Posada got hurt again. I don’t remember a season when so many players either fouled a ball off their feet/legs or catchers got nailed in the hand/fingers. All I can say is get well soon, Jorge, because we already DFA-ed Chad Moeller.
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P.S. Here are a couple of photos from today’s game, sent to me by Friend of the Blog John, also known as ooaooa. First up is John, his wife, his cousin and Michael Kay. Second one is a shot of the championship trophies that were on display in honor of Steinbrenner’s birthday. If anyone else is at a game and wants to contribute pics, by all means send them along.
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