A 7-game lead is nice, but…
As the All-Star Break comes to a close, I should be very happy the Yankees hold a 7-game lead in the AL East (7 ½ and 9 ½ games over their chief rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox, respectively). There were times during the early weeks of the season that I really questioned the makeup of the 2012 team. At one point, after the horrific start of the Red Sox, only one game separated the two teams. Fortunately, the Yankees began to put together consistent pitching performances and powered their way to first before July arrived.
But, as I sit here waiting for the second half to start, it’s evident the Texas Rangers have the most balanced squad in the league even if the Yankees have the slightly better record. Last year, the Detroit Tigers simply shut down the Yankee bats to eliminate the Pinstripers in the play-offs. The old adage, good pitching beats good hitting. The problem is the Yankees didn’t have and still do not have a true, legitimate clutch bat. I am not trying to take anything away from Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and others, they’re good hitters. But there’s always doubt in key situations. There are certain hitters that always come through in the clutch or at least it seems like it. I’d put former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis in that category. You know that he’s not going to get cheated in an at-bat…win or lose, he’s going to grind.
While the Yankees have gotten good pitching lately, it’s still a fact that their top two starters are on the DL. Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have pitched very well in their absence, but even with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, the Tampa Bay Rays have a better pitching staff. I still find it hard to believe that the Red Sox are as bad as their record indicates. The realist in me keeps expecting them to go on a tear sometime in the second half. Neither the Rays or the Red Sox are finished, and I am confident both will be making noise in September.
While it is likely the Yankees do not make any moves this month as the trading deadline nears, the team needs to be aware that the competition is not going to sit back and go with the status quo. I fully expect the powerful Rangers to make a move to further improve their team. It’s scary to think of them potentially acquiring a frontline starter like Cole Hamels. I recognize and understand that the Yankees are more budget conscious under Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner than they were under the Boss. I get the reasons for reducing payroll by 2014 to avoid additional penalties. Plus, there’s always the fear that the Yankees trade a strong prospect or good player for a risk, only to see the player hit a home run and win the MVP award in an All-Star Game wearing an opponent’s jersey.
It will be good to see the return of Sabathia, Pettitte, and Brett Gardner in the coming weeks. Plus, Joba Chamberlain will finally begin his rehab starts this weekend. So, there is help on the horizon. But will it be enough? Time will tell.
Farewell to the better Twin City…
I moved from Minneapolis to the San Francisco Bay Area so I no longer have my great downtown view of Target Field. I so loved downtown Minneapolis, living in the Warehouse District. It was a great experience in a great city. Northern CA is a wonderful place to live, but it will take time for me to re-adjust to California after enjoying Minneapolis so much. So, now instead of being within walking distance of Target Field, I am a BART ride away from the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants. It’s not quite the same thing. Of course, ask me in December or January and my response will probably be substantially different.
The Kidd from Cal…
After completing my first year as a fan of the New York Knicks, I was pleased to see the team sign veteran point guard Jason Kidd to back up starting guard Jeremy Lin. I have always felt a connection with Kidd. I lived in Dallas when he was drafted by the Mavericks, and I moved to Phoenix shortly after he was traded to the Suns. Yes, I have moved a fair amount during the course of my life. I am not sure that the Knicks will win in 2012-13, but they should be very fun to watch.
So wrong on many levels…
Speaking of basketball, it was hard to see Steve Nash don a Lakers jersey. Despite his years in Dallas, I will always associate Nash with the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers, of course, are a chief nemesis of the Suns, so Nash’s move would be like Derek Jeter signing with the Red Sox at this stage of his career. I was a Lakers fan prior to moving my allegiance to the Knicks, but still, I hate to see players join a chief rival in any sport or league. I know that whenever a Yankee or a Minnesota Viking leaves as a free agent, I am always hoping they sign in the other league or conference.
I want but cannot have…
I feel bad for Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. After openly expressing his desire to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the teams were unable to consummate a deal. Given that Howard has no desire to stay in Orlando, it will be interesting to see where he ends up. But Brooklyn would have been a lot of fun with the upcoming inaugural season for the former New Jersey team. I guess the Magic didn’t want Kris Humphries. Well, maybe Kim Kardashian was right after all…
Okay, let’s throw the first pitch for the second half! Time to race to October!
As if Alex Rodriguez hasn’t done enough to fill the tabloids this year, now comes word that he shops at the same place as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Of course, I couldn’t help but think of Charlie Sheen.
On TV, Charlie plays a morally corrupt bachelor with too much money…kind of like A-Rod.
He drinks excessively, and doesn’t worry about the impact on others when he opens his mouth. He’s the last person you’d want to depend upon if you needed help. He likes expensive clothes, albeit bowling shirts, but they are still expensive…again like A-Rod. He’s compulsive, a womanizer, and has yet to act his age.
The similarities between A-Rod and Charlie Sheen a/k/a Charlie Harper are uncanny…
Gustavo Cabellero/Getty Images
My only question…
If Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are two men, what does that make A-Rod?
Gene J. Puskar/AP
One difference between A-Rod and Charlie…Charlie’s funny…
ALFRED MANUAL MARTIN, JR
The other day, Jane Heller questioned my choice of Billy Martin as my all-time favorite manager. Billy was someone you couldn’t live with, but couldn’t live without. His fiery, combative style always eroded ownership confidence very quickly. But the guy was simply a winner. He loved the Yankees with a very strong passion, and he was his own man. Every time he was re-hired as a Yankees manager was a great day for me…every time he was fired was very sad. I always wondered what the start of the 1990’s would have been like had Billy returned for a sixth time.
To most people on MLBlogs, Billy Martin was a long ago figure. Perhaps many do not even know who he was. But I did, and I will always remember him…
Posted on YouTube by NESNMAN
YANKEES WIN STREAK OVER
I am definitely on the bandwagon of those who feel Rays pitcher David Price is destined for greatness. I have been all along, but today only reinforced why the guy has so much promise. Four scoreless innings, three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
The Yankees lost the game, 5-0, ending their 9-game winning streak.
The Yankees also re-acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the Chicago White Sox, but he most likely falls behind Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash in the catching pecking order. With Cervelli most likely going back to AA Trenton, Stewart just fills catching depth at AAA Scranton.
There was great feedback regarding how everyone chose their favorite teams. Every story was very interesting, and I appreciated the ones that gave insight into all four major sports.
I am all over the board. I have been a fan of the New York Yankees and Minnesota Vikings since childhood. I grew up in Iowa, and Fran Tarkenton was my favorite QB, so following the Vikings was easy. Years ago, I was listening to The Musers (George Dunham and Craig Miller) on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas and they said if your state didn’t have a professional team, you were in a “free agent” state. So, I guess I took free agency by its most literal sense given that my favorite teams are scattered across the country.
In basketball, I am a fan of the Phoenix Suns. I lived in Phoenix for eight years, and my two children still reside there. I can’t say there is any one player that attracted me to the team. I liked the ownership, which was headed by Jerry Colangelo at the time, and it was easy to follow the team. I attended a number of games while in Phoenix, and today I am a big fan of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.
In hockey, I am a fan of the San Jose Sharks (as you may have noticed on this blog from time to time). Although I am presently living and working on the East Coast, San Jose is home. I have meant to extend my thanks to Julia for her Boston Bruins being so gracious as to send Joe Thornton to the Sharks a couple of years ago. Thanks Julia! 😉 When I get home, you can be assured that I’ll be hanging out at the Shark Tank.
Have a great week, everyone! J
P.S. This is my 61st blog, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t dedicate this one to Roger Maris…