Knock me down, dust me off, and get back up…
I never expected the Baltimore Orioles to catch the Yankees in the AL East in the month of September. All season, I’ve been expecting the O’s to run out of gas and drop off the pace. It was the Tampa Bay Rays that I was most fearful of. At one time, the Yanks had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, but sluggish play in August and now September allowed the O’s to catch the division leaders.
Fortunately, a night later, the Yankees are back up by one game after defeating the Rays, 6-4, while the O’s lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by the same score.
I keep hearing the excuses of injuries but every team deals with its share of setbacks. It is how the teams respond to adversity that defines the winners from the losers. After the Yankees had defeated the Orioles in the second game of a recent three-game set (a game the O’s should have won), I thought the Yankees had turned back Baltimore’s threat. But in the third game, the Yanks fell flat and the O’s walked away winning two of three. That set the stage for this week’s tie as the Yankees continued to under-perform.
I knew that tonight’s game with the Rays was a “statement” game. The Yankees needed to show who they are and what we can expect in the coming days and weeks. It was a close game and less than stellar start for pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, but the Yankees got the all important “W” so that’s all that matters. Now, they need to continue upon the momentum and kick this into a short (or long) winning streak.
I have been worried that the Yankees didn’t really add any reinforcements at the trading deadline. Being forced to use Freddy Garcia in the starting rotation or over-exposing aging vets like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez is not a good thing. I had been hopeful that either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos would step up at some point this year after the season-ending loss of Michael Pineda in spring training, but injuries wiped out the talented duo.
I’d like to think the Yankees have the horses to win the World Series, but I do not. I think they’ll persevere and win the AL East, but admittedly, I do not feel they’ll advance very deep in the play-offs. Inferior pitching and the lack of timely hitting will again prove to be their Achilles Heel. I am still convinced the Texas Rangers will once again represent the American League in the World Series. Perhaps this is their year to finally win it. I’d love it if the Yankees got hot and went on a roll that took them deep into October, but I just don’t see it happening.
Aaron Rodgers-Lite, is that too much to ask?…
As we move into the NFL season, it’s tough when your team (Minnesota Vikings) is picked to be on the fast track to a top pick in next year’s draft. There is talent on the team so I don’t see anything close to 0-16, but Christian Ponder certainly needs to step up his game. He has the intelligence and the ability to do it so time will tell. It’s not going to hurt having T Matt Kalil watching his back. Hopefully, the Vikings can regroup to the point that they are a championship caliber team by the time the new stadium opens.
Win a championship, lose to the Cowgirls…
Well, the NFL Season has opened and the Dallas Cowboys lead the rest of the league by one game. Let the games begin!
Going up or going down?…
About 20 games into the season and the Yankees are barely closer to first place than they are last place. Only two games separate the Yankees from the dismal start by the Boston Red Sox but of course the Sox are playing better as of late. It’s only April so at this point, the standings don’t really mean too much as the superior AL East teams will begin to separate themselves from the pretenders over the course of the next couple of months.
It was nice to see the Yankees pull off a walk-off win at Yankee Stadium last night against the team that seems to terrorize them in the play-offs in recent years, the Detroit Tigers. I am really surprised that Justin Verlander holds an 0-2 mark with 4.50 ERA for his career at the new Yankee Stadium. When he is on the mound, it is hard not to expect bad things for the home team. So, regardless of Verlander’s struggles at Yankee Stadium, it is still a great feeling to pick up a win on a night when he took the mound.
Cashman made the right decision…
Lately, there have been numerous columns and articles written about how disastrous the Yankees trade for Michael Pineda has become. I realize that he’s lost for the season due to his shoulder injury, but he is still a young and talented pitcher. I know there’s always a risk that he isn’t quite the pitcher was projected to be when he comes back, but I think it’s way too early to criticize the trade which sent talented hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle. Pineda’s injury was suffered on the Yankees’ watch and not while he was in Seattle, and there is still a good chance that he’s a strong, contributing part of next year’s rotation.
Phil Hughes is probably the beneficiary of Pineda’s injury as I feel that Freddy Garcia will be the odd man out when Andy Pettitte returns to the Bronx. Hughes hasn’t exactly pitched like he wants to stay, but I am not ready to see the Yankees banish him to Pittsburgh or someplace like that. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I still believe that Hughes can prosper in New York.
I am a bit concerned by the uneven starts provided by new Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, but I think he’ll settle in and deliver consistent performances in the coming weeks and months. Yes, I do thank the lucky stars every day for CC Sabathia.
A sad day in the Yankees Universe…
I was saddened to hear the passing of Yankees great Bill “Moose” Skowron yesterday. He was part of the 1961 Yankees which will always be a special team in Yankees history for the famed M&M Boys (the year Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit the then record 61 homers). But there’s no way either Mickey or Roger could have reached those heights without guys like Skowron on the roster.
Next stop, Superstardom…
Well, the Bryce Harper Show begins its maiden tour in Washington with the scheduled first start today for the ultra-hyped, super prospect National. Given that he was called up to take the roster spot of injured 3B Ryan Zimmerman, there’s always the chance that Harper goes back down when Zimmerman returns from the DL. But if Harper starts to hit like we know he will, it will be hard for the Nats to remove him from the roster. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. America loves superstars and Harper certainly has as much of a chance to be the best as anyone in the game today.
When Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are happy, so am I…
It’s only been three rounds, but I am pleased with the NFL draft selections made by the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to the draft, my preference for the Vikings #3 pick in the first round was USC OT Matt Kalil. There was talk that the Vikings were undecided among Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, and WR Justin Blackmon, but in the end, it proved to be a smokescreen. I was a bit anxious when I first heard the Vikings had traded down with the Cleveland Browns, but it was clear that the Browns were going after RB Trent Richardson so there was no risk of losing Kalil off the board. At first, I didn’t understand the logic of the move, but clearly the Vikings (and GM Rick Spielman) had made the Browns fearful they’d trade down with another team which could potentially cost the Browns a shot at the premier running back in the draft. The move brought three late round picks to the Vikings and it didn’t cost them anything as they were focused on Kalil from the start.
I also like the Vikings’ subsequent picks (late first round selection of S Harrison Smith and early third round choice of speedy CB Josh Robinson). For a team that was desperate of upgrades in the secondary, they fared well. It would have been nice if Robinson were a bit taller, but his 4.33 speed at the Combines was unmatched. I think he’s good material for the coaching staff to mold for playing at this level. The Vikings have a plethora of selections today as Rounds 4-7 are completed, and I am sure that the defense will continue to get attention. I also expect the Vikings to choose a wide receiver, but I have no idea who they might target. Nevertheless, with Spielman’s decisions so far, I have no doubt that he’ll continue to bring talented playmakers to Minnesota.
As Luck would have it…
Like everyone else, I think that QB Andrew Luck has the potential to be one of the greats in the game but how much more difficult can it be to be replacing one of the greatest QB’s to play the game with added pressure of being the number one selection in the NFL Draft (along with the expectations that go with it)? If Luck succeeds, and I do not doubt that he will, he will prove, without a doubt, that he was the right choice to replace Manning. Luck, with a horseshoe on his helmet, seems like it was destiny. Meanwhile, I continue to “ponder” things in Minnesota…
Today, with Yankees-Tigers on tap and the conclusion of the NFL Draft, will be a fun day. Enjoy!
Chavez Ravine to the Bronx reminds me of Tommy John for some reason…
Welcome to New York, Hiro! It was a terrific debut at Yankee Stadium for #2 starter Hiroki Kuroda, as he shut down the Los Angeles Angels, 5-0 in the team’s 2012 home opener. The Angels, historically, play the Yankees very well in New York, so Kuroda’s performance was significantly more impressive than if it had come against a team like the Minnesota Twins. Obviously, the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher is not going to pitch like this every time out, but I do feel more confident in the #2 slot in the rotation than I did when it was held by A.J. Burnett.
The game also marked the 630th home run by Alex Rodriguez, which tied him with his former teammate, Ken Griffey, Jr. The script couldn’t have been written any better for a marvelous day in New York.
A proud day for a Yankees legend and his father…
It was also a very classy move to have Jorge Posada throw out the first pitch, which is the good karma that set the stage for the wonderful day. I am sure that it was a thrill for Jorge to throw the pitch to his father. I lost my own father as a child, but who doesn’t love the scene in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner plays catch with his father. It has to be an absolute thrill, and I am sure that it was for Jorge as his father was able to take the field at Yankee Stadium. I had heard the Yankees wanted Mariano Rivera to catch Posada’s throw, but Jorge wanted his dad. You certainly cannot find fault in his decision. Mariano’s day will come. Both players have reservations for Monument Park.
I was sorry to see the injury suffered by Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox. The word is that he’ll be out 6-8 weeks with the shoulder injury he suffered during Boston’s home opening day win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston may be a fierce rival, but I take so satisfaction in seeing the loss of one of their better players. To be the best, you have to beat the best which means that I want Boston and Tampa to have their best players on the field. The Red Sox probably have more dollars committed to guys on the DL than the team payrolls for a number of teams in major league baseball, with the likes of John Lackey, Dice-K, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, and Bobby Jenks currently disabled.
Hopefully, Ellsbury will make a smooth and speedy recovery, and will be back on the field soon.
The team name on Damon’s jersey should come with Velcro…
I know it’s a paycheck but it seems like Johnny Damon will have played with every team in the AL by the time he’s finished. He’s been with so many teams, I honestly can’t say what team he should be remembered for. Maybe Boston because of the Caveman look and helping them secure their first World Series win in a century, maybe the Royals because that’s where he got his start, who knows. I can’t look at him and say that ‘he’s forever a Yankee’ because his time was too brief and now it’s too watered down with other teams. Damon as a Cleveland Indian just seems strange. If Cleveland is out by July, I am sure that Damon will be moved to a contender, adding yet another team. Or Damon doesn’t get enough at-bats and opts out of his Cleveland deal, and heads elsewhere. Regardless, he just seems like a rent-a-player at this point. Maybe MLB should incorporate 10-day contracts like the NBA…
Purple People are better…
I am looking forward to the upcoming NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings, with the third selection and the top two picks already pre-determined, have some tough choices to make. I’ve been in favor of OT Matt Kalil, but an argument can be made for WR Justin Blackmon or CB Morris Claiborne. I thought it was interesting when Colts owner Jim Irsay made comments that teams interested in QB Ryan Tannehill should talk to the Vikings about their #3 pick. I have not followed the story closely enough to understand his motivation, but I’d prefer to see the Vikings hang on to the pick (despite the opportunity to add more picks) given the strength of the talent available. I am sure the Miami Dolphins are drooling over the idea of nabbing Tannehill so I guess it would depend upon how desperate they are to make a move. Unless the Vikings are overwhelmed, I want to see Kalil, Blackmon or Claiborne wearing purple at a mini-camp coming soon.
Actually, it’s hard to believe that we are already starting to talk about football again. It seems like the season just ended. But then again, it’s hard to believe that the 2012 MLB Season is well underway. It should be a fun sports year for all…
We took a mulligan on the first 21 rounds…
It amazes me when I look down this list of names…
Carl Everett, OF
Robert Eenhoorn, SS
Tate Seefried, 1B
Kirt Ojala, LHP
Richard Lantrip, INF
Sam Militello, RHP
Jalal Leach, OF
Tim Rumer, LHP
Matthew Terrell, OF
Darren Hodges, RHP
Richard Hines, RHP
Ron Frazier, RHP
Jeff Motuzas, C
Bo Siberz, RHP
Michael Smith, RHP
Ricky Ledee, OF
Bryan Faw, RHP
Bob Deller, OF
Brent Gilbert, RHP
Kevin Jordan, 2B
Keith Seiler, LHP
These are the players that the Yankees selected prior to Andy Pettitte in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft. Of course, Carl Everett’s name stands out but he achieved major league success elsewhere. I always had high hopes for Ricky Ledee, but he didn’t live up to the hype. I also liked Sam Militello, but if memory serves correctly, his career was ultimately derailed by injuries. But still, none of these players came close to matching Pettitte’s career. It is startling how many pitchers the Yankess took in front of Andy, including three left-handed pitchers. It’s also amazing to think that when this group was drafted, my now 22 year old son was only 6 months old.
I realize that Andy is nearly 40 years old, but all things considered, physically, he looks much younger. Took away the strands of gray in his hair and he’d still look 30. I am not trying to say that he is going to throw like a 30 year old, but I don’t feel the drop-off from 2010 is going to be as severe as some suspect. I remember when pitchers like David Cone and Roger Clemens were getting older. They were great pitchers but it felt like they were getting old. Somehow, Andy doesn’t project that same feeling. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may have his doubts about Andy’s comeback but I’d rather have Andy at the back end of the rotation than what Valentine will be putting out there. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Fragile: Handle with care…
I am not quite sure what to think about the news of Joba Chamberlain’s latest injury. Apparently, he suffered an ankle injury playing with his son that required surgery today. Expected to be back by June, this will obviously delay his return. It seems like the Yankees gave up too early on former pitcher Alfredo Aceves after he suffered two successive injuries that kept him off the field. I don’t know the exact details but the release of Aceves surprised me at the time and of course he found success in Boston. I hope the Yankees do not prematurely lose confidence in Chamberlain. I am not comparing Chamberlain’s situation to Aceves other than to emphasize that I hope the organization takes a tolerant and patient approach to see if Chamberlain can still become the pitcher we thought he would be.
Not only are you out, you’re outta here!…
Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi keep preaching patience with DH Raul Ibanez, but when it comes to that topic, my patience has worn incredibly thin. His lack of hits is troubling under any situation. Given the lineup also has a notoriously slow starting slugger at first base (Mark Teixeira), the Yankees can ill-afford multiple ice bats in April. The Yankees have the talent to acquire a younger, more productive hitter, and that’s definitely a road that I’d be exploring if I was the Yankees general manager. Of course, Brian Cashman is a better general manager that I’d ever be even in my own mind so I am sure this will play out exactly as Cash anticipates. Or at least I hope…
Peyton drinking the Orange Crush? At least he stayed with the horses…
Peyton Manning, the Denver Bronco. I am a bit surprised by his choice. Of course, it ended Tebow-mania in the Mile High City as the Broncos shipped #15 to the New York Jets. The Jets trade also surprised me given they already have Mark Sanchez. I had expected Tebow to go to Florida although I do recognize that the Jacksonville Jaguars are grooming Blaine Gabbert. It will be interesting to see how the Sanchez-Tebow situation plays out in New York. Maybe they can co-exist, but all things considered, this would be yet another surprise for me.
I thought it was a class gesture for former Broncos QB Frank Tripucka to relinquish his retired number 18 for Peyton to wear. Obviously, when Peyton retires, Tripucka will have to share the retired status with Manning. I’d like to see more retired players make those types of moves for certain players.
Think Ron Yary…
I am really worried the Minnesota Vikings are going to use the #3 pick on CB Mo Claiborne rather than stellar OT Matt Kalil. I know that Claiborne is a potential top 5 pick and the Vikings have a lousy secondary, but I just don’t see how you can pass up a franchise tackle who can protect Christian Ponder for years to come.
And then there was light…
Although we’ve been having summer like weather in Minnesota, it’s still hard to believe that the lights of Target Field will soon be illuminating downtown Minneapolis. As a downtown resident, I love the lights of the park which have been dark since last October. It will be fun to see them return in the near future. I only hope the Twins aren’t greeted with a heap of snow (which could happen in this part of the country). I am planning to attend my first 2012 game at Target Field in late April when the Boston Red Sox come to town. For three nights, I will be a Twins fan!
The Return of an old Friend…
When I first heard the news, I kept looking for the tag that it was a joke. I did have to think about what day it was, wondering if we had somehow fast forwarded to April Fool’s Day. But alas, the reports of Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement were accurate.
I am happy to see Andy back in Pinstripes, but it was still very surprising news. Of course, those close to Andy realized how much he missed the game when he was at camp for a few days earlier this month, but from the distant view of a fan, it just looked like he was enjoying spending time with the team. It sounded as though he was busy with his children’s activities in Texas, and could only spend a short amount of time in Florida as a result. But of course, I didn’t realize the soul-searching he was going through.
I do not believe that the one year lay-off will adversely impact Andy. I felt he left the game prematurely when he did, and this is no different than a pitcher out with injury for an extended period. The only difference is that Andy continued to pitch throughout the duration of the time away, aside from a short break he apparently took when it appeared there was no opportunity with the Yanks.
For Jorge Posada, I felt it was time for him to retire. But I didn’t have that feeling about Andy. I think he can still be a very productive pitcher at this stage of his career. Granted, he is not a front of the rotation starter anymore, but he definitely strengthens the back end. The downside is the impact on the other pitchers fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation…Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. It also impacts the young pitchers who may have opportunities to pitch in the majors this year…Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren and others. Of this group, I am most concerned about Hughes. He has appeared to be in excellent mental and physical shape this year, and seemed to be primed to have a season reminiscent of his 18-win season a couple of years ago. Barring injury, does Pettitte’s readiness in May or June mean that Hughes will be moved to the pen? More than likely. The odd man out appears to be Freddy Garcia. He could move into the role of long man, but paying Garcia $4 million to be the long reliever seems excessive for a team trying to cut costs as the role could easily be filled by a number of less expensive options with similar results.
But the positives of Pettitte’s return outweigh the negatives. He is a champion and his competitiveness rivals guys like former Yankees pitcher David Cone. He won’t be winning 20 games, but he’ll win or at least put his team in the best position to win when he is called upon. I heard an interview show that talked about ‘what if’ Pettitte cannot return to being the pitcher he was before, and I trust those who say that Andy would stop the comeback before the Yankees would if he felt he wasn’t effective. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I wish Andy the very best on the comeback trail and I am looking forward to seeing #46 on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The road to the Bronx is not paved with .065 hitters…
Like others, I am growing a bit concerned about the inability of Raul Ibanez to hit this spring. The phrase, “don’t worry, he’ll hit” just doesn’t hold any water for a player the fans have no emotional attachment to. I didn’t follow Ibanez closely during his Phillies career, but it seemed like he started slowly last year but still ended up with decent numbers by the end of the year. But every year is different, and at age 40, Ibanez is going to continue to regress. I am not sure if the best path is to wait to see if Ibanez comes around and supplement his at-bats in a DH rotation with Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rodriguez, or if the Yankees should pursue another alternative via trade. Anything that is available on the market will have flaws so there are no easy answers. For whatever reason, the Yankees seem to be opposed to the idea of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui returning. I’d probably bring them in for an open competition with Ibanez at this point. Then, at the end of spring training, may the best bat move north.
If I had been a fan of Ibanez for a number of years, then I’d feel differently. But since there is no history, I similarly have no patience. If Ibanez continues to hit less than .100 in spring training, then it’s time to move on and find another option. If he can’t hit in March, how is he going to be able to catch up to that Justin Verlander four-seam fastball in October?…
What did you say your name was again?…
I am glad to see that Clay Rapada is making the most of his opportunity to emerge as the second lefty option for the pen. When Rapada was released by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it. He quietly signed with the Yankees, and then another key left-handed option, Hideki Okajima, failed his physical. It seems like the Yankees are always looking for that second lefty and maybe Rapada can finally find his moment to shine. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have very good luck in building strong bullpens from the scrap heap, so it would be nice if Rapada turned out to be an “Andrew Friedman” like move.
It is interesting following the Peyton Manning story, but I haven’t seen any teams emerge as a great fit for him. He’s already passed on the Miami Dolphins, and he is apparently throwing for the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t see the Titans, or the Denver Broncos, as an immediate threat to win the Super Bowl…with or without Manning. Perhaps the best fit might be the San Francisco 49ers. It would be great to see Manning in New Orleans given his family’s history there, but Drew Brees isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a possibility. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, have so many problems beyond QB that they are not an option. Regardless of where Peyton lands, it will be weird to see him in a different uniform. I never could quite get used to seeing Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Keeping Ponder off his back…
With the NFL Draft just a month away, I am hopeful the Vikings retain their #3 pick (there’s been talk of trading down to pick up additional picks). With QB Andrew Luck (Colts) and QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins) off the board, that leaves powerhouse offensive tackle Matt Kalil ready and able to join the Vikings to protect QB Christian Ponder for years to come. For a team that struggled with its offensive line last season following the ouster of longtime tackle Bryant McKinnie, Kalil seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Courtesy of a friend:
Senior Citizen Texting Codes:
ATD: At The Doctors
BFF: Best Friend Fell
BTW: Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL: Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU: Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
FWIW! Have a great day!