The Pride of the Red Sox…
I am sure that there are Yankee fans rejoicing tonight at the news the Boston Red Sox and manager Terry “Tito” Francona have mutually decided to part way. There is no rejoicing on this Blog. I have a great deal of respect for Tito and he was/is arguably one of the best managers in baseball.
When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees, I was a bit disappointed. Of course, I’ve been a huge fan of Don Mattingly since he came up through the Yankees farm system and he was my favorite choice for manager despite his lack of managerial experience. I liked Girardi the player, but he was never one that I was able to fully embrace. I was concerned about the red flags that he exhibited during his year of managing the Florida Marlins and didn’t think that he’d be able to make the transition to the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’. I was envious of the Red Sox and their manager because he was the standard that I wanted Girardi to achieve. To Joe’s defense, he has but he is still not quite on the same level as Tito.
When the Red Sox first hired Tito, I simply viewed him as a Philadelphia Phillies reject. To me, he hadn’t proven himself as a manager and it was hard for me to take him seriously (kind of reminds me what I felt when the Yankees named Joe Torre as their manager). For years, the Red Sox had brought in guys that I just viewed as the manager of THAT team. None were able to capture my respect and admiration, and that includes Don Zimmer who I didn’t develop respect for until years later as a Yankees coach. But Tito was different. In 2003, the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker in the ALCS, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run. Yet, the following year, the Sox were back. Even though his team fell down 3 games to none, they stayed calm and persevered toward the AL Championship, and the first World Series Championship since 1918. He was responsible for the end of the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”. He followed up with another World Series Championship in 2007, making him the most successful manager in the modern history of the Red Sox.
When I look at the 2011 Red Sox, it is a team that should have prevailed. They had a superior pitching staff, and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford made it a much better team than the 2010 version. But the injuries, most notably, starting with starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and later Kevin Youkilis, were devastating. That’s really beyond the control of the manager. He has to play with the hand he has been dealt. The Red Sox recognized the flaws in the starting rotation, yet the best they could do was former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard. Nothing against Bedard, but it has been years since he was considered a stopper due to injuries. So, if there is any blame, it has to reside with GM Theo Epstein for failing to make the right move. While Epstein made the unsuccessful Bedard deal, the Detroit Tigers made a deal with the same Mariners team to bring them a starting pitcher (Doug Fister) that is as responsible as any for the Tigers’ late season success. Epstein was clearly outdone by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and had he made the right move, the Red Sox would be playing Game 1 of the AL play-offs tonight and Tito would still be manager.
If I am Jerry Reinsdorf, I am already on the phone calling Tito’s agent. He is the perfect choice to follow the highly volatile Ozzie Guillen for the Chicago White Sox. Chicago has a sound and supportive ownership group and the team is willing to make the necessary moves for success. I think it would be a great fit, although it would probably be better as a Yankees fan to see Tito in the National League. Another option would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s not that I want to see Don Mattingly fired, but I think any change in ownership will also result in a change at the managerial level. Regardless of where Tito goes, some team is going to benefit greatly. If he doesn’t take a managerial job and becomes an ESPN analyst, we still win because we’ll get a first-hand view of his wisdom and insight.
Tito, you were a worthy opponent and a great champion. I wish you nothing but the absolute best in whatever the future holds for you. We look forward to your next adventure!
And so the wagers begin…
With the Yankees 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night, Julia of Julia’s Rants scores the first victory of the season. Of course, all things considered, a
meaningless loss in March is hardly anything to fret about. But still, a win is a win, and I am obligated
to write a post about Red Sox manager Terry Jon Francona.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Julia did send me some information to help get a head
start: Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on
April 22, 1959. So, is that it? Am I done writing about Francona? Sweet!
Seriously, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were so easy to
dislike because I did not have any sense of attachment to their players and
their manager was usually someone that I felt indifferent about. Darrell Johnson, Don Zimmer (sorry Zim!), Ralph Houk, John
McNamara, Joe Morgan, etc. The names
just ran together to me and had no particular meaning. It culminated in 2003 when Grady Little left
Pedro Martinez too long during Game 7 of the ALCS. It was a game that the Sox probably should
have won, but ultimately lost when Aaron Boone homered to advance the Yankees
to the World Series.
When Boston decided not to renew Little’s contract in the
off-season and chose to go with Francona, I probably had similar thoughts to my
perception at the time the Yankees announced “Clueless Joe” (a/k/a Joe Torre)
as their manager. Here was, in my mind
at the time, an unsuccessful major league manager the Sox think they can
re-cycle. Francona had been fired from
his only previous managing gig with the Philadelphia Phillies so I was very
quick to dismiss his hiring.
Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Putting everything known about Francona aside, all he has
done is win two world championships for an organization that could not win a
World Series since my grandmother was a teenager. He eliminated the phrase “Curse of the
Bambino” from the vocabulary of all baseball fans and has established the Red
Sox as one of the premier organizations in all of baseball.
Francona, the man, is perhaps one of the classiest acts in
major league baseball. To a fan of
Boston’s chief rival, Terry has been nothing short of the consummate
professional since his first day in a Red Sox uniform. He is always so humble, and his teams always
so prepared and unwilling to quit. He
has changed my perception of the Sox and has given me a reason…a very strong
reason…to hold the Sox in great respect.
I look forward to the day when Terry decides to step away from the game
so that I can go back to hating the Red Sox!
I remember Terry when he came up with the Montreal
Expos. He was not a great player and
only accumulated 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in 10 seasons with 5 clubs. He did manage to pitch one game in 1989,
striking out Stan Javier.
His minor league managerial career began in 1991 with the
Chicago White Sox organization. He made
it to the big leagues as third base coach with Buddy Bell‘s 1996 Detroit
He spent four seasons as the Phillies manager from 1997 to
2000 but was fired after failing to finish higher than 3rd
place. In Philly, he did get the chance
to manage his future Red Sox ace Curt Schilling setting the stage for their
eventual and highly successful reunion.
When he was hired by the Red Sox, he had been the bench
coach for the Oakland A’s.
Terry and his wife Jaque live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. They have four child (one
boy and three girls).
For a largely undistinguished playing career, Terry is a
Hall of Fame manager in my opinion. I
may trash talk about the Red Sox but one thing is certain…I will never say a
bad word about the man who is arguably the best manager in baseball.
Julia, I am out!
We’re off to the races…
It was Game 1 of 162 tonight as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox kicked off the 2010 season on a warm night at Fenway Park. After a cold and rainy day in Northern California, I turned on the TV to ESPN and was surprised to see it was 67 degrees at game time. I had not checked out the weather forecast, and had expected to see a game played in the 30’s or 40’s. It sounds like the warm weather will stay through the duration of the three game series. Hopefully, the Yankees can keep things hot at Fenway (well, maybe not tonight but there’s still two games to play)…
The night got off to a great start for new Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson. In the bottom half of the first inning, he recorded the first out of the Yankees season by catching a fly out by Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury. Then, in the top of the 2nd inning, after Jorge Posada had hit a liner off the foul pole in right for a home run, Curtis hit the first ‘no doubt about it’ home run of the season to put New York up 2-0, his first official at-bat as a Yankee.
Speaking of impressive beginnings, not-so-new Yankee but new left fielder Brett Gardner showed why the team has shown faith in him. After reaching base in the fourth, Gardner advanced to third and later scored on a double steal. His speed on base is a difference maker so if he can continue to hit, this could be the beginning of a great season. Not bad for the shortest guy on the team. Long live short guys! 😉
On the downside, the short guy didn’t look so good in the 5th inning when his throw home was way off line, allowing two rather than just one runner to advance into scoring position. Fortunately, no damage was done aside from the run that scored during the errant throw. Still, Gardner is going to have to work on his play in left and adjust to the angles.
Neither starting pitcher figured into the outcome of the game. Josh Beckett was chased early (in the 5th), but CC Sabathia met the same fate the next inning. Clearly, neither has the stamina they will have in August. But bullpen to bullpen, I like the Yankees chances. Last year at this time, there were few reliable arms in the pen outside of the great Mariano Rivera. It took several months until Joe Girardi was able to make some moves that gelled. This year, the pen is a strength from top to bottom. Boston’s pen does scare me if Daniel Bard realizes his potential, but until then, the Yankees have a chance against the Boston relievers.
Tonight was not meant to be for the Yankees bullpen as the Red Sox rallied for the 9-7 victory. The primary culprits were Chan Ho Park and David Robertson, although Jorge Posada figured into the equation with what should have been a passed ball. Still, I think the Yankees bullpen will be a strength over the course of the season. Joba Chamberlain gave up a run, but I fully expect him to thrive in the 8th inning role and grab it permanently over the course of the next month or so. As the ESPN announcers related, Joba throws with a sense of urgency in a relief role, and that was missing during his time as a starter. Chamberlain-to-Rivera should be a good combo in later games. I loved Rivera-to-Wettleland, so hopefully, Chamberlain-to-Rivera can become equally as good if not better.
I know, Julia is ahead 1-0 with the advantage in our latest wager. Congratulations to her for the Game 1 victory. On the bright side, we still have 161 more games before anything is decided.
Hats off to Dustin Pedroia for his play in tonight’s Red Sox victory. I admit that he has the heart of a lion, and Boston is very fortunate to have such a great second baseman.
Boone Logan found out it’s not good to be the 25th man, when he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to today’s game to make room for outfielder Marcus Thames.
Leading up to the Opener, I heard constant reminders of Aaron Boone’s home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Boston got its revenge a year later, but Boone will forever be defined by that home run. Actually that’s rather silly in mind given that he spent over six years in Cincinnati as a Red, compared to a couple of months in 2003 as a Yankee. He also played with the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Given that Boston did win the following year, I don’t think Boone’s home run will stand the test of time like Bucky Dent’s 1978 home run. Nevertheless, it continues to be the hit people talk about when his name comes up.
In a trade that surprised me, the Washington Redskins acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles. You never expect a team to trade with a bitter division rival and that’s exactly what transpired today. Now, the Eagles will face McNabb twice a year. The Eagles did not get the first round pick they were seeking, but did secure a second round pick in this year’s draft and either a third or fourth round pick next year. I thought that McNabb would have fit well with the Minnesota Vikings since they play a similar scheme to the Eagles, but perhaps the Vikings’ lack of interest is a sign that Brett Favre will return this summer.
I hope everyone had a very happy and enjoyable Easter!
A Post-Red Sox Hangover…
Fresh off a four game series sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees stumbled tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 5-4. Of course, the deck was stacked against the Yanks with Sergio Mitre on the mound. Mitre went five innings, giving up five runs (three of which were earned). He also had six strikeouts. It wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t awful…somewhere in middle which seems to be typical-Mitre…not bad but not quite good enough. I am ready for a change. Give Chad Gaudin a chance or, gasp!, reach down and pluck Kei Igawa from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. I wish now that the Yankees had made a play for Pedro Martinez who is scheduled to start for the Phillies on Wednesday. Heck, even Luis Tiant was looking good the other night on ESPN! Anybody but Mitre. I know, he pitched better tonight than his previous outings and it was a miscue (his, by the way) that was his downfall. But I am just not convinced that he is the answer…
The Yankees’ seven game winning streak was halted with the loss, and they lost a game in the standings to the Red Sox, who defeated the Detroit Tigers, 6-5. Their lead in the AL East is now 5 ½ games. Of course, I’ve already read that the largest lead the Yankees have ever blown was 6 games in 1933. Julia is probably already writing about it on her blog…
Cody Ransom cleared waivers, and now heads back to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Today was a sad day with news of the death of Mickey Mantle’s widow, Merlyn Mantle. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, and made her last public appearance during a dinner before a memorial for Bobby Murcer. I lived in Dallas during Mickey’s final years. I never saw the Mantles, but I attended Mickey’s funeral in 1995 and used to drive by their condominium building on a regular basis. Just this morning, unaware of Merlyn’s health, I put up an autographed picture of Mickey in my office.
On a brighter note, I heard that Aaron Boone is already playing baseball again for the Houston Astros’ AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks. He played third base and was hitless in two at-bats before departing. Less than five months ago, Boone was undergoing open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect in his aortic valve. That’s incredible news. I suffered a stress fracture of my left tibia several months ago, and I am still trying to make a comeback. Boone is sliced open so the world can see his heart, and he is swinging at 90 mph fastballs. I’m a wimp. I thought that Boone’s career was finished, and he proved me wrong. I wish him the very best as he attempts to make a comeback. I hope that the road leads to Houston. Good luck, Aaron, old friend…
Tomorrow night, I’ll get my first taste of the San Francisco Giants rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers when I travel to AT&T Park. It will be my first time to personally attend a game in opposition to Joe Torre and one of my all-time heroes, Don Mattingly. On the bright side, I’ll be wearing the same hat as my favorite closer of the 80’s, Dave Righetti.
It just wasn’t that long ago when I was cheering for Rags to close out games…
Hopefully, Tuesday will bring a new Yankees winning streak…
New York Daily News
It’s my 100th blog, and in recognition of the event, I thought I’d show you what Lou the Bear is teaching his new friend, Wally, during tonight’s rain delay! Lou has taken it upon himself to explain the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry from the true perspective, rather than the jaded Boston point of view.
Wally was very surprised to learn that Bucky Dent’s middle name is actually Earl…
Aaron Boone didn’t share the same middle name as Dent? Wally didn’t know that his full name was Aaron John Boone…
Wally was shocked that the Red Sox would give Babe Ruth away for just $125,000. Wally wondered what the late 1920’s would have been like in Boston if the Babe had never been traded away. Alas, we’ll never know as history will only see this…
Wally has discovered there is so much more to learn, and he’s becoming more of a Yankees fan with each passing day!
Sorry Julia, but Wally is really starting to enjoy his new history lessons.
In the great tradition started by the tremendous Yankees blogger, Jimmy Curran, I dedicate this blog to #12 (thanks to the latest Leaders List for Fan Blogs that Mark posted on Friday). There are so many great bloggers on the list, and it is certainly an honor and privilege to be among such outstanding writers and fans. Congratulations to everyone who made the list! MLBlogs is the premier baseball blogging site because of all of you!
For number 12, I thought about who I should write about. Unfortunately, the Yankees current #12 is not someone that I’ve been enamored with. I have openly expressed a desire for the Yankees to pursue third base options other than Cody Ransom, so he’s out. Then there’s Alfonso Soriano. He was fun to watch as a Yankee, but he’s toiling at Wrigley Field these days. So, I decided to write about the first Yankees #12 that I distinctly remember.
Jim Spencer, known for his excellent fielding skills, played for a few American League clubs in the early 1970’s (most notably the California Angels, although I probably remember him more as a member of the Chicago White Sox).
Spencer came to the Yankees in 1978, and played in 71 games for the World Championship club that staged one of the greatest comebacks ever against the Boston Red Sox. It was a season that was highlighted by Bucky (bleeping) Dent’s home run in the one game play-off at Fenway Park. .
Spencer was the batter who preceded Dent before his historic homer, but he popped out with two runners on base. Can you imagine how much differently we would have remembered Spencer had he hit the home run instead of Dent?
In 1979, Spencer hit a career high of 23 home runs. He ended his career with the Oakland A’s in 1982.
I can still remember the comments Jim Spencer made about Catfish Hunter during the pitcher’s funeral in 1999. “When we won in ’78, the team headed to New York for a ticker tape parade — 27 blocks, 27 million people. I was in it, Jimmy was only interested in coming home to Hertford (NC). Deer hunting season opened the next day,” remembered Spencer. “He was the kind of player whose competitive drive spilled over to his teammates.” Considering that Hunter was one of my personal favorites, I recall being very touched about Spencer’s words since everyone knew how much the outdoors meant to Catfish.
Sadly, just three years later, Spencer was taken from us too soon when he died from a heart attack. He will always be remembered as part of the historic 1978 World Champions that included Hunter, Dent, Goose Gossage, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Cliff Johnson, Paul Blair, Roy White and others…
Posted on YouTube by yankschamps
YANKEES HAPPENINGS AND OTHER NEWS
It was a slow day for Yankees news on Friday.
CC Sabathia looked ready to roll in his spring training win over the Cincinnati Reds (retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point).
It sounds as though Joe Girardi will be announcing the starting centerfielder later this weekend, with Brett Gardner the most likely selection. It’s great that both Brett and Melky Cabrera had such good springs. Just because one may be selected as the starter now does not mean that the other won’t be starting by June, or prevent Mike Cameron from arriving prior to the trade deadline. But all things considered, I like the intangibles that Brett brings to the lineup. His blazing speed is very exciting, and he makes things happen on the base paths. But I also recognize that Austin Jackson will enter the mix next year, or perhaps even later this year. So, nothing is set in stone in centerfield.
If the decision is between Alfredo Aceves and Brett Tomko, I’d go with Aceves…
I liked Derek Jeter’s comment about leading off instead of batting second: “You hit 60 seconds earlier than you normally do.”
It doesn’t sound like David Robertson will make the club. I am hopeful that if he is sent down, he’ll continue to improve and make a speedy return to the Bronx.
As spring training nears an end, I am very pleased with the progress made by several areas of concern, most notably Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. I am dreading the day Mo walks off the mound for the final time.
Al Bello/Getty Images
There is continued concern over Joba’s loss of speed on his fastball. After routinely hitting the gun at 98 MPH last season, he’s been more in the 88 to 92 MPH range and only hit 94 MPH a couple of times in his last start. The Yankees and Joba don’t seem concerned, but there are definitely some mechanics that need to be worked out. This could be a defining moment for pitching coach Dave Eiland.
I was pleased to hear that Aaron Boone’s open heart surgery went well on Thursday. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!
It’s going to be a fun year in the American League East as even the Orioles and Blue Jays have solid talent on their teams. Maybe not enough to contend, but they’ll have a say in the eventual Division winner.
Regardless of what happens, I have a feeling that this will be a very special year for all of us (baseball fans, not just Yankees fans). It’s the dawn of a great season…
Have a great day!
My apologies to anyone that I might have offended with yesterday’s blog! I think I was so stunned that A-Rod would actually participate in that type of pictorial that I wasn’t thinking. He is so incredibly self-absorbed. I am shocked that he actually ever looked away from the mirror to find time to get married. I bet his daughters are jealous of the mirrors in the house.
I also thought that A-Rod left his wife because of Madonna, but I now see that it was strictly because of his love and affection for Alex.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter continues to use words that are foreign to A-Rod…like “we” and “team”…
JULIA’S GARBAGE CAN
Not that I’d want to be caught rummaging through Julia’s (of Julia’s Rants) trash, but if I were GM Brian Cashman, I’d be all over catcher Josh Bard. Bard was released by the Red Sox today, which apparently gives George Kottaras the backup catching job behind Jason Varitek. From what I understand, Kottaras was out of options plus he is more adept at catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
Bard, 30, had a productive spring in Sox camp, going 6-for-14, with one home run and 5 RBI.
Oakland also released their back up catcher and Bard’s former San Diego teammate, Rob Bowen, to give the job to a younger player, Landon Powell, so there’s certainly a few catching options to consider.
MY PRAYERS TO AARON BOONE
I was stunned to hear Aaron Boone’s announcement that he was leaving the Houston Astros to have open heart surgery and will obviously miss the season.
From what I understand, it is a congenital heart defect that Aaron has known about since college, but doctors determined after a routine physical that non-emergency surgery was necessary. This most likely means the end of Aaron’s 12-year major league career.
He wasn’t a Yankee for very long, but it was a memorable stay…
Good luck, Aaron…we wish you a successful and speedy recovery!
After the talk of whether Joba Chamberlain should start or relieve had started to die down, The New York Post ran a story this morning that the Yankees’ back up plan at closer if something were to happen to Mariano Rivera would be to move Joba to the role. Man, the debate will never end…
Speaking of Mo, three up and three down with two strikeouts on Tuesday night. All is good, i.e., keep Joba in the starting rotation!
Chien-Ming Wang got the win in today’s exhibition game against the Houston Astros. He pitched five innings, giving up three hits and one run. He had two strikeouts.
A.J. Burnett will face his old team, the Toronto Blue Jays, on Thursday.
It was a great come-from-behind win over Puerto Rico by Team USA last night, but the euphoria was tempered with news that Kevin Youklis will miss the remainder of the WBC due to a sore ankle. He’s going to have a MRI, but hopefully it isn’t too serious. Good luck to Team USA as they move on!