Sunny Days Will Be Here Again: A Happy Post

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Since we’re all feeling a little impatient/perplexed/downright angry about the Yankees’ off-season thus far, I figured I’d lighten the mood with a bulletin: It’s almost spring training, which means it’s almost Opening Day. I know, I know. I’m not the only one with a calendar, but I just might be one of the only ones with a preview of the new Yankee Stadium E-Guide, which is the fantastic creation of Kurt Smith as part of his BallparkE-Guides series
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Each e-guide is a detailed, PDF-formatted booklet that takes us through our favorite parks in a way that teams’ official programs and web sites don’t. For example, at Yankee Stadium you can’t get back into the ballpark once you leave, right? Wrong. Thanks to a tip in the Yankee Stadium E-Guide, I learned that if you enter via the Hard Rock Cafe and have your ticket punched there, you can come and go as often as you want. The E-Guide has insider info about buying tickets, paying less for tickets, figuring out what and where the best food is, not to mention getting to the Bronx without stress. It’s all here and it’s only five bucks, downloadable from Kurt’s site. I’ll definitely consult the Yankee Stadium E-Guide before my next visit to the Stadium. 
Speaking of which, I predict that the Yanks will, indeed, end up signing Rafael Soriano.
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Why? Because there’s precedent for bringing in a proven closer as our setup guy. Does the name Tom Gordon ring a bell? He worked out pretty well setting up for Mo even though he’d been a closer for the Red Sox. Despite Cashman’s comments about staying “in-house” for the eighth inning and trying to avoid an expensive LaTroy Hawkins/Kyle Farnsworth-type flop, Soriano is no Hawkins/Farnsworth. He’d fit the bill just fine.

I Doubt This Is True But…

What do I know? In case you didn’t see the ESPNNew York article today about Petttte’s reluctance to come back, take a look.

Clemens reason for Pettitte’s pause?

Yankees lefty still waffling about next season as The Rocket’s perjury trial looms

MatthewsBy Wallace Matthews
ESPNNewYork.com
Archive

Nearly four years after he cashed his last Yankees paycheck, $18 million for a half-season’s work and a 6-6 record, it is possible that Roger Clemens is still exacting a heavy price from the team.

[+] EnlargeRoger Clemens & Andy Pettitte
AP Photo/Kathy WillensPettitte and Clemens used to be very close, but not anymore.

We are now barely a month away from the beginning of spring training and Andy Pettitte has still not decided whether he wants to pitch in 2011.

On Thursday, he told a New York Post reporter who showed up on his doorstep in Deer Park, Texas, the same thing he told reporters in the clubhouse in Arlington the night the Yankees were eliminated by the Texas Rangers, the same thing he has been t
elling the Yankees during their infrequent conversations this offseason: that he hasn’t made a decision.

All season long, I believed his reason — a desire to spend time at home with his young but growing family, a desire I can relate to with two children of my own. But now, as Pettitte continues to dither on what he really wants to do, the thought occurs that there might be another factor at work.

Clearly, it’s not a matter of ability — Pettitte’s 11-2 record up to the point of his groin injury in July that robbed him of two months of the season proves he can still pitch, and probably better than anyone in the Yankees’ rotation not named Carsten Charles.

And it’s not a matter of money — right now, the Yankees’ payroll sits at a treacherously low $170 million and with Cliff Lee out of the picture, you know that $30 million of Boss Bucks is just burning a hole in Brian Cashman’s pocket.

So either Pettitte wants to pitch, or he doesn’t.

What’s taking him so long to decide?

Well, maybe it is what is waiting for him in July, a hot seat on the witness stand in the upcoming federal perjury trial against Clemens. Pettitte is expected to be the government’s star witness against his former teammate and buddy, and in fact, might be the only man standing between The Rocket and a jail cell.

Clemens, of course, is a slimy character. His accuser, Brian McNamee, is every bit as slimy with a background that is maybe even more shady. No matter how strong the evidence or how many dirty syringes McNamee saved in a soda can in his basement, his and Clemens’ testimony will probably cancel one another out just on the sleaze factor alone.

That leaves Pettitte, and his word, as the swing vote — and you know Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, is going after Pettitte in the only areas he can in order to discredit his testimony. He is going to do his level best to crush Pettit
te’s reputation for honesty and sincerity and religious convictions. Simply put, he is likely to try to paint Pettitte as a lying hypocrite whose word cannot and should not be trusted.

The cross-examination could get embarrassing and highly personal.

And in a situation like that, pitching for the New York Yankees every five days and facing a ravenous media horde on a daily basis is not exactly where anyone in his or her right mind would want to be.

In that context, Pettitte’s indecision becomes not only clear, but quite understandable. When Pettitte says he hasn’t decided, it seems to mean that he really wants to pitch, but something is keeping him from committing himself to it.

True, there have been other offseasons in which he waited until well into January to decide — one season, he announced his decision on Jan. 26 — but never one in which this kind of thing was looming over his head.

Facing reporters to answer questions regar
ding his HGH use in a news conference in spring training was like an appearance on “The View” compared with being grilled by a defense attorney trying to keep a client out of jail.

My guess is the fear of that is keeping Pettitte on the shelf so far this winter — and if so, then Clemens is about to drag down his old team once again.

This, of course, is as much the Yankees’ fault as it is Clemens’ — for forging an unholy alliance with a player almost universally despised in their clubhouse before he joined them, for indulging his “special desires,” for allowing him to write his own rules. Clemens pitched well in his first stint with the Yankees, but the negative things he brought along with him negate many of his accomplishments.

He embarrassed the team by throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza, forcing Joe Torre into the impossible position of having to defend the indefensible. He forced them to hire McNamee, who brought his own variety of shame and dishonor to the club.

Clemens, too, strung the Yankees along on what seemed like an annual Hamlet routine of to pitch or not to pitch, one year even going so far as to accept thousands of dollars worth of ”retirement gifts” — only to resurface the next year as a member of the Houston Astros. He neither returned the gifts nor showed an ounce of embarrassment.

But his crowning achievement came in 2007, when he played the Yankees for an $18 million contract — more like $28 million if projected over a full season — sat out until June, and then delivered a .forgettable 500 season. That was followed by his star turn in the Mitchell report, his shameful performance before Congress in which he introduced the word “misremembered” to the sports lexicon, and then he slunk off, many of us thought, forever.

But now, perhaps he is rearing his ugly head again. Now, he may be one of the reasons — not the only one, of course — why the Yankees head into spring training with a pitching rotation that is decidedly third-best in the division. Perhaps he is the reason Pettitte is so reluctant to do what it appears he really would like to do for one more season.

As a man who has ties to both the Yankees and Pettitte told me Friday, “He’s afraid of a lot of things right now. People have told him he’s going to be a major distraction this year. He knows his name is going to be dragged through the mud and he knows that when you’re a Yankee, there’s nowhere to hide.”

Maybe Pettitte is hoping Clemens will come to his senses and cop a plea before his case ever gets to trail. Maybe he is waiting to see if U.S. district judge Reggie Walton, who has already pushed back the start date from April to July, will delay the trial further, to October or November.

Or maybe he really is wrestling with the issues he discussed all season, the struggle between wanting to continue doing what he does so well and wanting to enjoy his family while they are still around to be enjoyed.

But if that was the whole story, you would think he would have made his decision by now.

Something is keeping Andy Pettitte from issuing the final verdict on his 2011 intentions.

Perhaps it’s the prospect of having to testify against Roger Clemens and stand up to what could be a public humiliation, both in the courtroom and in the clubhouse.

If that’s the case, then once again The Rocket will have cost his former team a whole lot more than just money.


Even if Andy does have concerns about having to leave the team to appear at a July trial, I’m sure the Yankees would accommodate him. And by then we’ll have Felix Hernandez so no problem! Honestly, I really hope the Clemens thing isn’t messing with our rotation. The Rocket and his weasel-of-a-former-trainer have done enough damage to the franchise already.


In The Booth With John, Suzyn And….Ted Williams?

By now everyone’s seen the story about “the homeless guy with the golden voice,” right? He’s been making the rounds and been offered all sorts of broadcasting jobs. What I don’t think anybody’s asked him is: “Are you a baseball fan?” And, more specifically: “Are you a Yankee fan?” He’s from New York with the accent to prove it, so why not hire him for occasional announcing duties during Yankees games or maybe for some of the programming on YES?
Well, there is one problem. He might have to change his name.
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Fine. Keep Torturing Me, Yankees.

It was bad enough to have to read that the Yankees are considering Freddy Garcia and Jeff Francis and even Bartolo Colon for the rotation. But now I’m supposed to add Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Bonderman to the list, according to LoHud? My reaction is the same as it’s been this entire off-season: to hold my ears and go, “Lalalalalalalalalala.” 
I was a good fan when we got Javy Vazquez last year. I pretended like it was a smart move. I said all the right things and cheered him on and acted pained when it was implied that he didn’t have what it took to pitch in New York.
Before that, I put on a brave face when we picked up Sidney Ponson. “He’ll get his act together once he’s in pinstripes,” I said out loud.
I even rooted for Kei Igawa.
But enough is enough. I don’t want any of the starters mentioned in the first paragraph of this post – all of whom qualify as other teams’ stale leftovers.
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I don’t want reclamation projects, either. I want pitchers with talent. Yeah, talent. Any kind of talent. Maybe this guy’s available?

Has-Beens Or Possible Contributors?

That’s what I’m wondering after reading that the Yankees have added Andruw Jones to their list of possible right-handed hitters to play this year’s version of Marcus Thames.
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My first thought was why didn’t we just re-sign Thames? Because he can’t field the ball in the outfield? Neither can the other names that have been bandied about: Manny Ramirez and Vlad Guerrero. Would any of these guys settle for a role on the bench? And even if they would and their price tags weren’t too high, would I want them?
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What I want, for the 150th time, is a starting pitcher whose name is Andy Pettitte, plus another guy whose name is Felix Hernandez. Is that too much to ask? Here’s what I’m offering Brian Cashman if he can make just one of those options happen:
* The chocolate cake I baked for my friend Rhonda’s Thanksgiving.
* The chicken and barley stew I cooked for Michael the other night.
* The bottle of Syrah that was served at the New Year’s Eve party I went to.
OK, clearly those aren’t that enticing. I need to step it up. How about:
* My Porsche Boxster S. It’s old but it’s still a beauty.
* My book collection. Romantic novels might not be Cash’s thing, but so what.
* My TVs. Sure he already has some, but who doesn’t need more TVs?
* My husband. Yes, I’d miss Michael, but sacrifices are what being a fan is all about.

My Patience Has Worn Thin

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I’ve never been good at waiting. Not for the phone to ring. Not for a package to arrive. And especially not for the Yankees to do something besides sign Jose Pedro Feliciano. I’m tired of watching other teams make deals or be rumored to be making deals while our GM dresses as an elf for the holidays and rappels down a tall building. What I also have to admit is that I’m tired of waiting for Andy Pettitte to decide if he wants to come back and pitch for the Yankees. I love Andy. A lot. And I sincerely hope he’s on the 2011 team. But he’s been doing this dance with regularity and it’s gotten annoying. He’s had months to think about whether his family needs him at home, hasn’t he? Surely, his kids and his wife (and his aunts, uncles and cousins) have expressed their preference by now. And surely he can see how badly his teammates need him. So I get that he might be as torn as the jeans in the picture, but it’s time for a decision. Please, Andy. As the expression goes, “S—t or get off the pot.”
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Those Red Sox People Are So Amusing

Here’s the headline that generated my laughter today.


2011 Red Sox Will Challenge 1927 Yankees for Title of Greatest Team in Major League History

It was from a blog on NESN that was brought to my attention by Paul Lebowitz’s blog earlier. Now don’t get me wrong; the Red Sox made terrific deals to upgrade their team this off-season, and my Red Sox fan friends (yes, I do have a few) are rightfully delirious with their shiny new acquisitions, just as we were when CC, AJ and Tex landed in our laps. But “the greatest team in major league history?”


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That’s just plain hilarious. For starters, I wouldn’t be caught dead writing a headline like that, given how superstitious I am. (Talk about a jinx.) For another thing, isn’t it a little nutty to make such a grandiose prediction this early, particularly after 2010 when the Red Sox were supposed to be locked and loaded and instead ended up sending everybody to the DL? And finally, the author of this masterpiece decided to compare the 2011 Red Sox with the 1927 Yankees? 
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There’s a reason the ’27 Yanks were called “Murderers’ Row.” (And it wasn’t because they had a bunch of murderers on the team, which reminds me: Did everyone read about O’s pitcher Simon? Allegedly, he shot and killed a guy in the Dominican over the weekend and wounded another. I hate when that happens.) Babe Ruth hit 60 homers that year and Gehrig 47, and the others in the lineup were no slouches either. The team dominated, absolutely dominated. So my question is this…Will the 2011 Red Sox dominate in the same way? Can any team dominate in the same way, given the competition these days? And who would comprise Boston’s Murderers’ Row? Crawford and Gonzalez are really good but are they Ruth and Gehrig? Are Pedroia and Youkilis? No doubt they’ll all score a ton of runs, but I’m just not ready to anoint them as the “greatest team in major league history.” That’s like saying the chicken and barley stew I made last night was the “greatest comfort food in culinary history.” I mean, it was excellent, if I do say so myself, but….Well, you get my drift.

The New Year Ushered In A New Yankees Friendship

I’m relieved to say I survived last night’s New Year’s Eve karaoke party. Actually, I not only survived but ended up having a really great time. Our hosts were gracious, everyone was in the holiday spirit and, once the machine started shooting out song after song, we all got into it. (Alcohol helped.) I’m hoarse today, so I must have been belting them out without realizing it. Anyhow, as promised, here are a couple of guests covering the Beatles. (Notice the guy in the background with the beard and glasses? That’s Michael, who claimed he didn’t sing, but as it’s plain to see he was moving his lips!)
Next up were our hosts (I promised I wouldn’t reveal their names so they wouldn’t be mortified). I hardly remembered the song “King of the Road” by Roger Miller but now I can’t get the damn thing out of my head.
The party was moving right along toward midnight when suddenly the karaoke machine started playing Neil Diamond’s….you guessed it….”Sweet Caroline.” I immediately held my ears and yelled, “God, no! Not that awful Red Sox song! I’m a Yankee fan!”
“You are?” asked Steve, one of the other guests.
“Absolutely,” I said, a little wary of admitting my allegiance in a town where most people root for the Dodgers or Angels.
“So am I,” said Steve, who explained that he grew up in Connecticut and has been a Yankee fan his whole life. “I’m really worried about the team going forward. The Red Sox made so many moves and we didn’t. I still can’t believe we didn’t get Cliff Lee.”
Well, that led to a discussion of the Bombers and our concern about the pitching, etc. Before we knew it, the TV came on and Ryan Seacrest was in Times Square counting down to midnight – and Frank Sinatra was in the background singing “New York, New York.”
“Now that song makes me feel a lot better,” I said. “We could be at Yankee Stadium right now.”
Which was not a bad way to end the evening.
 

Happy Karaoke New Year!

As I mentioned in last night’s post, I’m going to a New Year’s Eve party where there will be a karaoke machine and guests are supposed to, you know, sing. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have subjected myself to the humiliation, but here’s how this all unfolded.
My friend John: “We’re having a New Year’s Eve party this year and we’d love it if you’d come.”
Me: “I’m so there.”
My friend John: “It’ll be cool. You’ll get to meet my daughter and her fiance since they’re in town.”
Me: “I’ll really look forward to that. What can I bring?”
My friend John: “A bottle of wine, if you want. Or maybe something dessert-y and sweet.”
Me: “Will do.”
My friend John: “Oh, and bring your voice.”
Me: “Excuse me?”
My friend John: “We’re having a karaoke machine. Everybody’s gotta sing. It’ll be the perfect way to bring in the New Year.”
I smiled and nodded. And then I thought….Jane, you hate karaoke! Too late. I was trapped, having already said I was going. I’m sure it’ll be fun once I get into it, but I’m really hoping I don’t remind everyone of her…..
Oh, well. Maybe I’ll bring the She-Fan Cam and catch somebody else sounding awful, and if so I’ll be sure to post the video right here. 
Wherever you’re going for New Year’s and whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a great time. Here’s to a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2011! (GO YANKEES!)
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A Moment To Remember….

As we tick off the final hours of 2010, I went back over my blog posts from this year and decided to pick the one that made me happiest. Well, maybe not THE happiest but very happy nonetheless. It was the post about the Yankees clinching a playoff spot. They had limped their way to the finish line but made it into the postseason, and I celebrated as if they’d won the World Series. I want to hold onto that memory as I brace myself for 2011, although the picture below really does make me look like Alice Cooper.

There Was Only One Thing To Do After This One

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Celebrate. Uh-huh. 
Getting into the postseason is no small feat, and, like the Yankees, I decided not to let the occasion go by with merely a “Yay.” After watching the players douse each other in the visitors clubhouse at the Rogers Centre (I don’t get the post-game show here, so I had to wait for the party clips on the YES web site), Michael covered the shower wall with plastic so it would look “authentic” (a Hefty garbage bag like last year), escorted me inside, dumped champagne on my head and handed me the rest of the bottle. It wasn’t the good stuff and tasted like stale beer, but the sentiment was there even if I did end up looking like Alice Cooper. Woohoo, Yankeeeeeeees!
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CC was The Man. He gave the team innings. He gave them effectiveness. He gave them the confidence to score runs. (Loved all the sac flies.) He gave them a true ace. And Mo. Well. Of course he wrapped it up. I know the division title is still up for grabs, but just knowing for sure that we’ll be watching October baseball is a thrill that never gets old. I thought back to 2007 when I was following the Yanks around the country for the She-Fan book. We were in Tampa, at the Trop, when they clinched their Wild Card berth and the Post’s Charles Wenzelberg promised he’d bring me back a champagne cork from the party. True to his word, he brought me the cork when we were in Cleveland for the ALDS. I still have it.
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I keep it with my jewelry. To me, having a memento from a Yankees celebration is more valuable than diamonds or pearls.

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