Robert Frost once said he could sum up everything he has learned about life in three words. “It goes on”…
It was one of those days for the great Mariano Rivera and the Yankees on Sunday. The Yankees had controlled the majority of the game after a Randy Winn triple in the bottom of the 2nd inning had given them an early 2-1 lead.
Sergio Mitre did everything asked of him as he went 5 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 1 run. David Robertson, who has been struggling, came on in relief of Mitre and was effective for two innings.
Antonelli/New York Daily News
So, the Yankees had the perfect formula for victory (Chamberlain + Rivera), right? Wrong. Joba allowed the first batter to reach base during the top of the 8th inning when Denard Span singled. Following a fielder’s choice which left Orlando Hudson at first, Joe Mauer walked. Joba struck out the next batter (Justin Morneau), and it looked as though he might escape the inning without any further damage. Unfortunately, an infield single by Michael Cuddyer loaded the bases and ended Joba’s afternoon. Manager Joe Girardi called on Mariano Rivera for a four-out save. Mo quickly fell behind the first batter he faced (Jim Thome) and eventually walked him to bring in a run (closing the Yankees lead to 3-2). Mo was unable to shut the door as the next hitter, Jason Kubel, smashed a grand slam to right to give the Twins the lead, 6-3.
Antonelli/New York Daily News
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
The Yankees tried to rally in the bottom of the 9th and had the first two men on base. But Twins closer Jon Rauch struck out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira to end the game.
This was a very disappointing loss. The Yankees have had great success against the Twins at Yankee Stadium and had won the first two games of this series. A win today would have put a psychological knife into the Twins or the very least would have given them doubts about their ability to win at the Stadium in October. For the Twins, it was a huge win and it lifted the monkey off their backs. Prior to the game, former Twins great Bert Blyleven labeled it as a “must win”
So, the weekend ends on a down note for the Yankees as they await the arrival of their fiercest rival, the Boston Red Sox, for a two-game series in the Bronx starting on Monday.
Of course, Yankees-Red Sox can only mean one thing. It’s time for another wager between me and my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants. For the latest wager, the loser must write a blog about the opposing team’s first World Series victory. If the teams split the series, the winner will be the team with the highest run total. The Red Sox did lose today to Johnny Damon and the Detroit Tigers so neither the Yanks or Sox carry any momentum into the latest series.
The Yankees received some bad news when it was announced that DH Nick Johnson may need wrist surgery. They’ll first try a cortisone shot, but if it doesn’t work, surgery will be the next option which would most likely shelf Johnson until August. This is exactly what Yankee fans had feared when Johnson signed with the Yanks during the off-season as Johnny Damon’s replacement. GM Brian Cashman says that Johnson’s injury potential was taken into consideration, however, it doesn’t appear that there is a solid Plan B in place. I like the lineup with Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli at catcher, however, that may or may not be a good long term solution. I’d prefer more of a sure thing (trade for Johnny Damon?), but unfortunately, the trade market will not be open until July (or June at the earliest).
It was a particularly tough sports day for me today as the San Jose Sharks lost 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference Finals. I am sure that if I need to hear some positive sports news, Julia will be more than happy to tell me all about the Boston Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals… L
San Jose Mercury News
The day did have a great start for me before the games began. I participated in the 99th Annual Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco. The run started near the Bay by Embarcadero and headed west (up the Hayes Street Hill and through Golden Gate Park) to the Pacific Ocean.
San Francisco Chronicle
In San Francisco, you have to be prepared to see just about anything…and I did! Many runners (and walkers) chose to wear costumes while some opted for nothing at all. I took the more conservative and traditional route myself. I do not know the total headcount but the run was very slow at the beginning and going up the Hayes Street Hill due to the sheer volume of people.
San Francisco Chronicle
Personally. I accomplished my modest goal of running the race inside of an hour. It was a fun and very enjoyable day…well, at least until the 8th inning at Yankee Stadium!
So much has been written about the vacancy in the Yankees’ starting rotation, but I still think it’s Phil Hughes’ job to lose…
The competition has been tough. The early leaders were Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre, thanks to their consistently solid performances. However, in my mind, it’s always been Hughes. Aceves could go the entire spring without allowing an earned run and I’d still be behind Hughes for the 5th spot in the rotation. Aceves, for the record, was blasted for 5 runs in 4+ innings today in an 8-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
Keivom/NY Daily News
I know the Yankees invested much time trying to make Joba Chamberlain a starter. The “Joba Rules” date back to the Joe Torre era as the Yankees tried, albeit very cautiously, to build up Joba’s arm strength and stamina for 200 innings plus per season. But the truth is Joba is ideally suited for the bullpen. His make-up, demeanor, and approach is much more aggressive in a defined relief role. He has looked uncomfortable and at times lost as a starter.
My preference is for Aceves to resume his long relief role, Joba to set up Mariano Rivera (and spelling him on occasion), and Gaudin find his niche in the bullpen. Sergio Mitre has pitched well, but I’d try to trade him for a young prospect.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
When making the decision for who will be the starter, you really have to project who has the best chance for long-term success. Regardless of who pitches the best in March, the winner needs to be someone who can give the Yankees the best chance for October success. The answer is obvious…Hughes.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Curtis Granderson was hit on the right hand in Friday night’s game, but it sounds like he’ll be fine and should be back in the lineup on Sunday. It’ll be just in time to see Phil Hughes nail the final spot in the starting rotation.
Julian H. Gonzalez/McClatchy
The talks of the Yanks’ interest in Joe Mauer reminds me of the talk we’ve heard in the past about the Yankees getting Carlos Beltran, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Matt Holliday, Aroldis Chapman et al. All smoke and no fire. As great as Mauer is, the Yankees do not need an injury risk at the catching position. I still think that Mauer will eventually land with the Boston Red Sox if the Minnesota Twins don’t re-sign him. Perhaps it will be a great move for the Sox, and Mauer will make fans forget Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk. But I don’t he is a good fit for the Yankees. They’ll be fine with Jesus Montero, assuming that he doesn’t “out-grow” the position, as Jorge Posada’s eventual successor. If Montero does have to move because of his physical size, then I am willing to take my chances with Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
I am amazed that Jamie Moyer, at age 47, is on the verge of nailing down a spot in the rotation for the championship-contending Philadelphia Phillies. He is definitely the Energizer Bunny…
Lori M. Nichols
Personally, I think the Washington Nationals should have kept super-prospect Stephen Strasburg in the major league starting rotation. Nevertheless, I don’t think he should buy a house or sign a long-term lease in Harrisburg, PA. He won’t be there long…
As you know, I am not a fan of the Boston Red Sox (regardless of how much my friend Julia would like for me to be). However, I do want to send my prayers and best wishes to Ryan Westmoreland, Boston’s 19-year-old outfield prospect, who underwent successful brain surgery last week. He faces a tough road and a long recovery, but at least the initial news was promising. Let’s hope the news continues on its current positive, upward trend. Regardless of whether he ever plays baseball again, I will always be a fan of his in whatever he does. I only hope that it will be nothing short of complete and absolute recovery. Ryan, we are all on your team!
Ruben W. Perez/The Providence Journal
When I saw that the University of Northern Iowa had defeated top-seeded Kansas in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I could only think of one thing…never underestimate the power of an Iowan! Signed, an Iowan. J
I am headed to Dallas for the week on business. I pulled up the weather forecast and was shocked that it was snowing in Dallas on the first day of spring! Meanwhile, in Boston, it was 71 degrees today! What’s up with that? And why do I have to leave this gorgeous, sunny California weather?…
Unfortunately, Johnny Damon hasn’t forgotten how to beat the Yankees…
Gene J. Puskar/AP
In Damon’s first appearance against his ex-mates, he hit an RBI single and a solo home run to power the Tigers to victory, 6-2, in Lakeland, Florida. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a regular occurrence in Yankees-Tigers matchups. Two of the hopefuls for the fifth spot in the starting rotation were the victims of Damon’s abuse. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre each gave up three earned runs in three and four innings of work, respectively. Austin Jackson even got in on the action with some great defensive plays.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
On the bright side, the Yankees also played the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa and won 5-3 behind the heroics of Jorge Posada. Javier Vazquez was the starter and winner, but Alfredo Aceves continued to impress. So, if Phil Hughes has competition for the starting rotation, I’d have to say that Aceves is the top contender at this point. I am convinced that Joba Chamberlain is headed to the pen, and either Mitre or Gaudin (or both) will find themselves pitching elsewhere.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Kei Igawa, perhaps the Yankees most disappointing free-agent signing in recent memory outside of anyone named Carl, saw his latest attempt to make the Yankees flame out. He was one of nine players cut and re-assigned to minor league camp. The other notable name, but not unexpected, was pitcher Andrew Brackman. The odds have definitely been against Brackman but I hope he can persevere and pitch in the big leagues one day.
Nick Latham/Getty Images
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, this has been a disappointing off-season so far. Of course, there’s the inevitable ‘will he or won’t he’ retirement talk about Brett Favre. If Favre does retire, it’s hard to get excited about the team’s offense being helmed by either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels. We’ve already seen a great running back depart when Chester Taylor signed with the rival Chicago Bears. The team wined and dined free agent LaDainian Tomlinson, but he left Minnesota for New York with no agreement. Nothing against Minneapolis, but it’s hard to compete with the city of New York. There’s no telling where LT will eventually land, but he would be a nice backup for Adrian Peterson. So far, the Vikings biggest acquisition has been the free agent signing of long kicker Rhys Lloyd. Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to make the necessary moves to ensure that their current championship quality window does not close without any hardware.
Peter Read Miller/SI
This has been an interesting year on American Idol. I have seen most of my early favorites depart, so I’ve had to find new ones to back. At this point, I am a fan of Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze. I am surprised at some of those who advanced to the Top 12 and some who didn’t, but the show should start heating up in the coming weeks.
I am headed down to Burbank to see The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week. The scheduled guests are Terry Bradshaw and Kara DioGuardi. The musical guest is Ziggy Marley. It should be a fun and energetic show to watch. I am looking forward to it. I was able to see The Late Show with David Letterman last year, so it will be fun to see how it compares to Leno. Of course, from my perspective, I can’t wait until Conan O’Brien is back on the air…
Who’s the frontrunner?
Suddenly, Sergio Mitre is gaining the backing of the New York Press in his attempt to win the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation. I still think the winner will ultimately be Phil Hughes, but he needs to show he belongs in the rotation now and forevermore.
Cataffo/NY Daily News
What happens if Mitre doesn’t win a starting role? With the many arms competing for spots in the pen, several with long relief experience, the best case scenario might be to showcase Mitre for other teams for a possible late spring training trade. Prospects are fine, but the Yankees need to parlay Mitre into potential for the future.
Keivom/NY Daily News
It was scary to hear the news that catcher Francisco Cervelli had been plunked in the head. I was in Arizona on a business trip and somewhat removed from sports news. I received an email from my good friend Julia, who expressed legitimate concern for a Yankee even though she dislikes anything Bronx-oriented. Thanks Julia! Cervelli may be ready to play by Friday and I am hopeful for a smooth and healthy return. Cervelli, and his attitude, are definitely why I am proud to be a Yankees fan. He’s a genuinely good guy and the team is placing great faith in his ability to backup Jorge Posada. At his advancing age, Posada will need more days off so the defensive-minded Cervelli will play a huge role for the 2010 Yankees.
I gotta admit that it was nice to see Nick Johnson in the lineup again. ..
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Today was a good day. Two wins. 7-5 over the World Series rival Philadelphia Phillies, and 6-0 against Team ex-Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Considering the recent string of losses, today was a day to enjoy. I still can’t figure out why the Red Sox aren’t on the spring schedule but two wins are two wins. Well, at least until Opening Day when we pick up our first official win!
I really hope the Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan is not seriously hurt. I am not a Twins fan but there is something right about baseball when the Twins are competing. The loss of Nathan would be huge so hopefully the news in the coming days will be positive for Nathan and the Twins.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Count me among those who think the Baltimore Orioles will be much improved this year. If the Orioles were a stock on the NYSE, I’d definitely rate them as a buy. Kevin Millwood is formidable at the top of the rotation, but Brian Matusz flat out scares me. The O’s are quietly assembling a championship club.
I thought the Hank Blalock signing was a solid move by the Tampa Bay Rays. The AL East is going to be a battleground this year. No team can afford to let up for any stretch of the schedule. I am very thankful that Doc Halladay is no longer pitching in Toronto. Here’s my first pass at a 2010 prediction for the AL East:
1. Yankees (of course!)
3. Red Sox (a disappointing year for the newcomers! :D)
5. Blue Jays
For some reason, I don’t think Julia will agree…
“I consider this position I am playing in as a bench role”…
These were the words of Yankees GM Brian Cashman on January 6th regarding the current Yankees outfield. Cashman is apparently looking for a right-handed bat to complement Brett Gardner in left. Let’s see if these words still hold true on, say, February 23rd. I guess we’ll check back at that time to see if Cashman held true to his words.
An intriguing option in a platoon situation is free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli. Rocco has had medical issues the past few years and suffers from channelopathy, but in a limited role, he might be a viable option. He appeared in only 62 games last season for the Boston Red Sox, batting .253 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI’s. I don’t know what the future holds for Rocco, but if he can overcome his medical condition, he might thrive in a part-time position. I am sure the price tag would be enticing to a GM looking to keep the payroll under $200 million…
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
I am warming up to the idea of Reed Johnson as a possibility for a potential platoon, but as each passing day goes by and Johnny Damon remains a free agent, I am hopeful that his price tag falls far enough that he fits into Cashman’s budget. If the Yankees could get Damon to come back for one year, it would be an ideal situation and Johnny could test the free agent waters next fall.
It’s tough when you pull up a New York paper, and the leading Yankees story is the signing of pitcher Sergio Mitre to a one-year, $850,000 deal. Okay, I accept that the possibility that Mitre will be significantly improved since he’ll be further from his elbow ligament replacement surgery (July 2008). But to spotlight him in the New York tabloids is a bit much. I do not see Mitre as more than a bit player in 2010. Maybe he’ll prove to be the second coming of Aaron Small but who knows…
Sipkin/New York Daily News
Peter Abraham says that Chien-Ming Wang is ready to move on from the Yankees. I am still a bit perplexed why the Yankees didn’t try to give Wang one more chance. Maybe there’s a possibility that he could still return, but I would hate to see him experience a rebirth in Boston (not that they need another starter with that rotation). Actually, if it were me, I’d go to Seattle. The Mariners are definitely poised to make a run in what should be Ken Griffey, Jr.’s final year. The Mariners have made some great acquisitions this off-season. Sure, they lost Adrian Beltre, but they’ve acquired Cliff Lee, Casey Kotchman, and Chone Figgins. But like with Damon, I do hope that Wang finds his way back to the Bronx.
Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
I was sorry to see David Cone leave the YES Network. There was always something very re-assuring about Coney as a player and as a broadcaster. I can’t say that I was pleased when he decided to go to Boston to pitch, but he is a class guy. Whatever the future holds for Coney, I hope that it’s what he wants to do.
Congratulations to pitcher Joba Chamberlain for being a winner of the Thurman Munson Award (which acknowledges excellence in competition and philanthropic work in the community). The award will be given on February 2nd. This is definitely a preferable off-season event over a DUI. I am glad to see Joba’s growth and maturity in a very positive direction.
Sports Illustrated, courtesy of Microsoft
My weekend football predictions:
Cincinnati Bengals 21, New York Jets 17
New England Patriots 31, Baltimore Ravens 20 (Okay, this is for my friend Julia!)
Arizona Cardinals 27, Green Bay Packers 17
Dallas Cowboys 33, Philadelphia Eagles 31
The only problem with my predictions is that it would bring the Dallas Cowboys to Minnesota to face the Vikings. This, of course, is the match-up that has haunted me for many years. On December 28, 1975, I was watching the Cowboys and Vikings in the NFC Divisional Play-offs. It appeared that the Vikings had the game in hand until Roger Staubach threw the unbelievable Hail Mary pass caught by Drew Pearson as Nate Wright fell to the ground. I remember exactly where I was, where I was standing, and my reaction. Fortunately, I’ve had the Yankees all these years to give me some “relief” from the disappointment…
When can we start talking about baseball?…
Let’s Go Yankees! 🙂
They got it right…
The homer pick was to go with CC Sabathia for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award. However, it was clear that Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is THE right choice. He had an incredible season. Imagine what he could have done playing for Boston or New York. The win-loss record wasn’t spectacular (16-8), however, the 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts were. It was a dominating season and Greinke was the class of the American League.
Of course, “dessert” for Greinke is his upcoming nuptials this weekend to former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Emily Kuchar. Okay, Zack lives in a world that I will never know…
Congrats, Zack, on a tremendous season!
I am not so sure that I like the Yankees very slow and non-reactionary approach to the early off-season. I know that GM Brian Cashman is trying to see how many dollars in his wallet, however, the team is costing themselves money by not proactively seeking to retain certain free agents like Johnny Damon.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Yankees would be wise to start talking about an extension with Derek Jeter now rather than wait until the expiration of his current contract. By waiting, it will most likely cost the team more than if they’d put forth the deal to secure Jeter’s pinstripe-only career.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was really shocked to hear that the only coach signed for next season is hitting instructor Kevin Long. Even manager Joe Girardi is a lame duck with a contract set to expire after next season. Maybe it’s just me, but it would be kind of nice to have a first or third base coach.
Maybe the Yankees have a grand master plan that will work to perfection. They’ll walk off with top free agents John Lackey and Matt Holliday signed to very reasonable deals. But then again, maybe they won’t and they’ll be scrambling to retain the likes of Sergio Mitre, who’s option they declined earlier today.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of Theo Epstein’s quick-strike approach. I’d rather make the moves with swiftness and confidence. Act before your opponent has time to react. Take a chance on the sleepers. I dislike going into September of a pennant chase with Sergio Mitre as your fifth starter. I know that you can’t have an All-Star at every position, however, there are a number of low budget moves the Yanks can make to strengthen the team for its defense of the World Series championship. If he’s ready, I would like to see Austin Jackson in center, but that does mean the team needs proven production from the corners. I liked Boston’s pickup of Jeremy Hermida and I think the Yankee scouts should be doing their homework on the next breakout players. Last off-season, I would have loved to have acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier. Now, after the successful season he had in 2009, he’d be impossible to acquire. But he could have been had pre-2009. I know, I keep waiting for the next Paul O’Neill, however, those type of deals can be made.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
With the rumors of whether or not 2010 will be the final season for Dodgers manager Joe Torre, I do feel bad that he has to endure the divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt. There has been talk of contract negotiations between Torre and the team so hopefully the divorce situation won’t adversely impact Torre. Ultimately, I am a fan of Don Mattingly as the next Dodgers manager, however, it should, respectively, be on Joe Torre’s terms.
If the Yankees do non-tender Chien-Ming Wang, I do hope that they move quickly to sign him to an incentive-laden deal. I still think that Wang can be the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007. I was frustrated last season, however, he clearly was not healthy.
I’ll be headed to Arizona in a few weeks to finally see Brett Favre play as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ. I haven’t seen the Vikings play (in person) for about 20 years. The last time was against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas. The Vikings won a shoot-out in overtime, 44-38. A quick Google search tells me that it was 22 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully, December 6th in the Sonoran Desert will be equally exciting and with the same result!
The previous week will start with a Kelly Clarkson concert (oh yeah!) and will also include a Broadway play in New York City, so here’s hoping for a GREAT week for ME! J
I missed a great game…
I should have been in attendance at Monday’s game between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels in the Bronx. I had gone to the May 3rd game that was rained out, so my ticket would have been good for Monday’s game which was the make-up game. I had it all laid out perfectly. I had requested Monday and Tuesday off from work, so that I could stay at the Stadium until the bitter end. Unfortunately (baseball-wise, not personally), I relocated from the East Coast to California so a trip to New York City was not in the cards. I missed an outstanding game as a result of my attempt to improve the circumstances of my life.
I realize that it was only one game. However, the Yankees, for one night, showed that they could beat the Angels at their own game. It lifted a huge monkey off the Yankees’ back, and they know that they can beat the Angels. On a double-steal in the 8th inning, Brett Gardner racing to third, broke for home when catcher Mike Napoli’s throw to third sailed into left field, scoring the go-ahead run. Alex Rodriguez reached third on the play, and scored on Robinson Cano’s RBI single. As a result, the Yankees emerged with a 5-3 victory over their nemesis.
Meanwhile, Scott was sitting in Northern California wondering what could have been…
The Yankees couldn’t parlay the win into a victory tonight as they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-3. But for one night, they can be excused. Unfortunately, the Red Sox creep (and I use that word for its multiple meanings) one game closer to the Yankees. So, the so-called Magic Number remains at 12. The Rangers did lose, so the Yankees did move closer to the guaranteed Wild Card slot.
What about the Rays? The schedule makers have slotted the Yankees to begin AND end the 2010 season against the Boston Red Sox. I guess there will be more fun and games for my friend, Julia, and I. Julia is very quick to tell me that the Yankees will end their season THIS year against the Red Sox, but I know that my friend lives in a fantasy world…
Last night, baseball aside, was tough. I did not expect to hear the news that Patrick Swayze had died. Yes, I knew that he was battling pancreatic cancer, but Patrick has long been one of my heroes. I felt if anyone could beat cancer, it was Patrick. I became a Swayze fan during The Outsiders, and I remained a true fan through his final appearances in the TV series, The Beast. I remember feeling a loss when he died in Ghost even though his spirit succeeded in reaching out to his true love and eliminating his enemies. Now, the feeling is loss is permanent and it stinks, to say the least. Julia mentioned to me that Patrick had a way of appealing to men and women. I don’t disagree with that. He was always one of my heroes, and he will remain someone who lived by the standards that I will always strive to achieve. This one will be tough to overcome…Patrick will be missed…
Whoa! I can’t believe my favorite tennis player, Roger Federer, lost the U.S. Open against Juan Martin Del Potro. Congratulations to Del Potro, but hopefully Roger will return to his rightful throne in the not-so-distant future. My brother was in attendance at the Open, and I should have been there, but the move to CA kind of got in the way. Sorry Roger, I let you down…
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Back to baseball, there’s not much drama regarding the AL East Champion and the Wild Card except who will fill which role. Clearly, the Yankees have the advantage, but the Red Sox are not out of contention…not if they keep winning. But the Rangers are done. They are losing tonight to the Oakland A’s and probably won’t be mounting a miraculous comeback. So, despite the Yankees’ loss, they will still gain ground on the Rangers for the Wild Card. As Julia is quick to mention, it doesn’t matter how you get into the play-offs…
The Yankees announced that they’ll skip Andy Pettitte’s next start due to a fatigued left shoulder. I think this is a case of Yankee conservatism, and Pettitte would pitch if the situation were dire. I just wish that they’d quit trotting Sergio Mitre out there…
Hey, I am just glad that we’ll be playing October baseball again. But I gotta admit, I like this team…