Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seatlle, really

7-0. Well, shutouts happen, and Felix can hurl. I always thought if they just nosed against Tampa it was over. Prove me right, boys.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some inning, ay?

The good news was, while trying to field the most routine of bunts The Yankees reminded me that my four year-old nephew's t-ball game is today.

The bad news is . . . hurricane season. A rain-out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dodgers 9, Yankees 4

I made 27 bucks betting 10 against AJ in Vegas earlier this week.

I'm sorry, but there it is.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yankees 2, Dodgers 1

What a game to finally come home to.

Strong starting pitching, solid D, timely hitting late, Mo.

CC is so big he often seems to have too many moving parts--certainly, when his pitching is a shade off, when his curveball misses a foot wide and comes in at ankle-high, he does.

Special joy: fifth inning, Michael Kay said, "Hey, there's Vin Scully!" And I said, "Hey, there is Vin Scully and switched to the Dodger broadcast.

No offense to Kay and Flash but . . . damn.

What was funny was James Loney, last batter of the game, looking at Mo's backdoor cutter--simply one of the five best pitches in the history of the sport, then getting rung up, then throwing his helmet, then getting thrown out of a game that was already over.

What do we call such a moment? "You're fired! No, I quit!"

Was CC's hitting Padilla intentional? I didn't think so, now . . . I wonder. One of the raps against the 2002-2008 Yankees was that they were too soft--clearly not the 1998 team that carried a brawl against the O's into the Baltimore dugout, when Straw and Graeme Lloyd were throwing blindiders from back behind their ears, then trading high-fives for the cameras in the clubhouse.

CC brought a lot to the team. Had Pettitte been routed in Game Six of the Series, he was prepared to start for the sixth time that post-season.

But tonight was a reminder: CC, along with Tex and Swisher, helps make the Yankees mean.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yankees 8, Phillies 2

CC v. Cliff Lee 2.0.

Preview of Game One? We should live so long.

Monday, June 14, 2010

After the weekend that was

For three days every second or third or fourth year, Astro-Girl and I are at odds rooting-wise. She loves her Astros (pouring over the draftee list all weekend; she wanted more lumber); I like the Astros a lot. I love the Yankees; she loves Derek Jeter, likes Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posaada a lot, admires Mo, thinks Joba is "the cutest thing," and has more or less accepted A-Rod. So she roots for the Yankees, and I root for the Astros, and all is well and good except for three days every third year when the interleague wheel comes around to AL East/NL Central, and watch our guys square off.

A few fun facts about the Yankees and Astros:

1. Everybody knows Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the Astrodome, in an exhibition game in 1965. When the 2000 Yankees returned to help the 'Stros open Minute Maid Park (then known as . . . ugh . . . Enron Field), the first home run was hit by . . . Rickey Ledee, in his third year of attempting to crack the Yankees' World Championship outfield that featured Paul O'Neill in right and Bernie in center. (The official totals for the Dyansty Years of 1996-2001 indicate the Yankees tried out precisely 5,204 left fielders to go with Paulie and Bernie. Ruben Rivera, who tried to steal some of Jeter's gear--um, not a sterling career move in the Bronx--was out there. Shane Spencer, the replacement player (err, strikebreaker) who was thought to have a real shot until he tore up his leg in '99 and was never the same. Chuck Knoblach in 2001, when his throws from second to first threatened to kill Rudy Guiliani. Jose Canseco was thought to have a shot; the Yankees traded for him after Spencer went down, then discovered he'd decided on his own to become a full-time DH forevermore--not only did he not have a glove, but when was issued his Yankee uniform (cue trumpets: the hallwed pintripes of the Babe and Lou Iron Horse, of Joe D and the Mick), he specifically asked not to be given a cap, on grounds that he would only need a batting helmet.

2. Incidentally, a former major-leaguer, a Hall-of-Famer, has come forward to announce that he, and not the Commerce Comet, hit the Astrodome's first home run. His logic is, if you're going to count exhibition games, then the scrimmage he played in, as a young Astro, against a local high school team the night before the Mick went yard, ought to count, too. And he wants us to know it. If you're guessing that this fellow was a second baseman who was later traded to the Reds, and who then went on to win two consecutive MVPs, nice guess. His logic, then, begs the question--if you're not going to distinguish between an official Major League Spring Training game (for which official records were kept, and MLB umpires assigned, and customers charged admission) and a game with no fans, no records, no (I'm guessing) umps, why not stop there? Why not award the first home run to whoever hit one first in that scrimmages' batting practice? How about the first Astrodome construction worker who brought a bat and bucket of balls to work, and hit fungoes after 5 pm while standing in short center?

3. The Astros and Yankees took part in one of the strangest games in history in 2003: the Astros employed a record six pitchers in no-hitting the Yankees. This fact can only happen if the starting pithcer is hurt (Roy Oswalt was) and a host of relievers hold up their ends. Brad Lidge, Billy Wagner, and Octavio Dotel were called, at one time or another, "closers." The fellow Sarloos pitched some good games. And I always forget about the sixth guy. I took some mighty crap from my co-workers after that game. But the Yankees' record vs. the Astros' since then? 7-0.

4. I saw all three Astro-Yankee games at Minute Maid two years ago, a birthday present from Astro-Girl. This was a Yankee sweep. The first two games were classic Yankee victories--solid startin pitching, good hitting late, solid bullpen--but in the third game the internal history of the team was altered. Astro owner Drayton McClane had ordered the Minute Maid doors thrown open a half-hour early, to allow those attending to see the Yankee batting practice ample time to find their seats. Thus we were allowed to see the Jeter-Posada-Melky cabal stretch and soft-toss before BP, see the scrubs and rookies take their places in the outfield, gues who was hot. For the Sunday game, Wang was facing Oswalt, and so much was Girardi's obsession for getting ready for Oswalt that he, on Saturday night, had rested Matsui and Posada in order to load up on left-handed bats. Posada came out on Sunday morning and hit line drives to the left-field porch; I said, "He's going to crush the 'Stros today." And so he did, hitting a homer, though turned around to the right side, Oswalt having been long gone. The Yankees won 13-1, but one run ended their season and hastened their pursuit of CC and AJ: Wang rounding third, ripping that tendon at the bottom of his foot, and essentially ending his career.

And this doesn't even bring us up to this year.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 of 4 from Birds

Can't they play Baltimore every day?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3

The only question mark is Joba.

Vazquez looks like the pitcher the Yankees hired . . . Granderson seems healthy.

I remember something Roger Angell once wrote about the old Munson-Nettles-Reggie-Mickey-Chambliss teams of the late-70s: "The Yankees are capable of playing fiuve different types of baseball."

Thought about that today. Eighth inning, one out. A-Rod with the bases loaded--2-1 becomes 4-2, but in none of the ways you'd think. One of the best half-dozen innings of the season.

14 innings . . .

And you knew. You just knew.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Yankees 6, Orioles 3

Partying like it's 1998.

Banged up? Players in a slump? Pitchers in a bad patch?

Or, conversely . . . team playing well? Getting healthy? Finding its stroke?

Either way, it's good news: the Orioles are in town.

Grandy, Robby, and . . . okay, not "Swishy"

In the everyday player department, three things:

1. If Robby Cano isn't the "first-third" MVP . . . he is, right now, at "you always know where he is in the lineup" status. This just occurred to me: Cleveland walked Tex to pitched to A-Rod on Monday, and we all know what happened. In that situation, in a one-run game--especially given the Yankees' exhausted and (at the moment) suspect bullpen, they didn't have to pitch to A-Rod. I mean, you try to get him out, but with Alex freaking Rodriguez you can at least be fine around the plate. Walk him, the game is 3-1. A two-run lead, you're still never more than one pitch away from bringing the tying run to the plate. As Tommy John always said, "You always have an open base, even if it's home plate." Jim Palmer walked home scores of runs during his career, but as we all know . . . not a single grand slam. Thing is, none of that occurred to anyone. And why? Cano was on deck. He's playing that well.

2. Seems like Granderson can hit lefties after all.

3. Nice to see Nick Swisher is much, much more than a mascot. Remember he was brought in to be the fourth outfielder and pinch hitter. It is hard to see Xavier Nady, at his healthiest, giving even close to what Swisher is right now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Catching up

1. Yanks 9, Birds 1. Hughes, finally, may have arrived. Loved that kid from the start.

2. Pettitte plus Hughes: 12 games over .500. The rest of the Yankee staff: 1 game over .500.

3. That blown call, costing baseball the third perfect game in a month: ouch. Baseball umps remain the most competent officials, as a group, in sports. (This is even including the ghastly incompetents, like CV Buckner and Angel Hernandez.) If anything like Tim Donaghy had happened in baseball, they'd already be filming the movie. (Jake Glynenhall, maybe. Tobey MacGuire.) But something hit last October and keeps recurring.

3. When I was in college, during Spring Break in 1986 and '87, my father and brothers and I would head out of Scottsdale Diablo Stadium to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Brewers, Padres, Cubs, whoever in Spring Training. Just about every game, Dick Williams would send the Mariners' prime prospect out to play center field for the last few innings. There was no question this skinny teenager would be returning to the minors both years, but the fans were delighted to see him play, in part because they remembered his famous father, in part because he was a promise of things to come--for Mariner fans and non-fans alike. The big smile you could see from high above home plate all the way to the warning track, and with every fly ball, every at-bat, every first-to-third, it was if the entire park existed only to watch him. The sentiment was palpable: He has to do well. There could be no other outcome. Ken Griffey Junior did okay.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Yanks swipe three of four from Tribe

Joel Sherman pretty much nails yesterday afternoon and the moment when a two-game swing and the fate of a series hung in the balance:

It all made perfect baseball sense. Of course it did.

Indians manager Manny Acta absolutely had every reason in the world to intentionally walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases with one out in the seventh inning yesterday. Well, every reason but one: YOU NEVER INTENTIONALLY WALK MARK TEIXEIRA IN FRONT OF ALEX RODRIGUEZ.

You have a better chance of plugging that BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with Silly String than actually succeeding with that strategy.

You don't split tens in Blackjack. You lay up in the US Open. You never touch the Stanley Cup until you've won it. And you don't walk Tex to get to A-Rod.

Karma ain't just a dancer at the Gold Club