Tagged: Thurman Munson

His name is easy, it’s Champion!…

 

Thanks for the memories…

Although Prince Fielder had other ideas, today was Jorge Posada Day.  On a day when the Milwaukee Brewers’ talented free agent signed an unexpected 9-year, $214 million contract with his father’s former team, the Detroit Tigers, a Yankee Legend called it a career.  So, while Tigers fans are rejoicing, the Yankees Universe is united in sorrow to see the end of a tremendous career.

It was time.  Although I knew that Posada could still hit, he was ill at ease at DH and he was no longer the consistent clutch hitter that he had once been.  He could have held on for a few more years in a more limited role, but I am grateful that he recognized that it’s best not to overstay your welcome.  It would have been awful to see him put on a Rays, Marlins or Mets uniform.  I am sure that we would have quietly supported him, but now this way, he bled pinstripes from beginning to end.  I value and appreciate the untarnished career.  Don Mattingly may call Dodger Stadium “home” these days, but he’s still a Yankee.  The same holds true of Posada…once a Yankee, always a Yankee.

In the late 1970’s, my favorite Yankees were catcher Thurman Munson and closer Rich “Goose” Gossage.  I truly did not believe that I’d ever see two players as great as those two legends.  Of course, the great Mariano Rivera has eclipsed Gossage’s career, but Posada has certainly earned the right to stand in the same room with Munson, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Elston Howard.  It’s ironic that long-time projected replacement Jesus Montero and Posada officially exited the Yankees on back-to-back days, but the position seems to be in capable hands with Russell Martin until future star Gary Sanchez is ready for the major leagues.

I wish Jorge the very best in whatever he decides to do next.  Selfishly, I’d like to see him stay in baseball as he’d make a great future manager.  I love people who are passionate about what they do, and Jorge lived and breathed passion every day.  He is the type of guy that you’d want to go to battle with so long as he was on your side.  The immediate thought is probably to spend some quality time with his family, but hopefully, he’ll be back in Major League Baseball as a coach sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Hip, hip, Jorge!  🙂

If he is following his father’s footsteps, when does he become a Yankee?…

Speaking of Fielder, I was shocked when I heard that the Detroit Tigers had signed the prolific young slugger.  There were constants reports of possible signings by the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals, and the occasional links to passive teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I have to admit that I did not suspect the Tigers.  Of course, I didn’t foresee the Angels signing Albert Pujols but I suppose when you are talking about $200 million, it’s probably best not to tip your hand.

Photo ops for game winning hits…is that too much to ask for?…

I thought the Yankees and the Tigers were searching the same pool for an effective, low-cost option to DH.  While I wanted the Yankees to sign Johnny Damon, I knew that he had enjoyed his time in Detroit and there seemed to be some level of interest there.  Obviously, the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the market for someone like Damon or Hideki Matsui.  But based on comments that Yankees GM Brian Cashman made earlier in the week, it sounds like a free agent slugger is Plan B.  Plan A apparently involves the trade for a young, controllable hitter.  I am sure that type of move is predicated upon moving a contract like A.J. Burnett’s even if it means packing a few extra dollars in his suitcases.  My fear is that a trade could cause the loss of someone like Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos which I’d hate to see.  I am not sure what quality hitter is available and the market seems to be drenched with potential salary dumps. I wonder if Cash has his eye on a certain player.  Still, I’d go the cheaper route and sign Damon, Matsui, or Raul Ibanez to a short-term deal.  If the team offense struggles early on, the Yankees could potentially make a move in July for a veteran hitter.  I am not sure that there is a young position player out there with the potential of pitcher Michael Pineda that could be had for a relatively inexpensive cost.

My fear with the Yankees offense, while they have produced, is they do not strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.  When Robinson Cano is in the groove, he is as good as anybody in the game.  I know that Curtis Granderson had a near-MVP season last year, but I’d be surprised if teams planned their strategy around him.  Yes, Alex Rodriguez was once the best player in the game, but he is a couple years removed from domination.  Injuries have held him back and while he certainly has the potential to have a few more power seasons, he carries a big “if”.  It would be great if Mark Teixeira could get back to the hitter he was a couple of seasons ago.  Up and down the lineup, outside of Cano, there are questions.  I am pleased with Granderson but I want to see him do it again before he has my complete trust.

It would have been foolish for the Yankees to pursue Fielder.  Even if they have the money, it just doesn’t make financial sense to tie the organization to the player for the next decade at that kind of money.  It makes me sick to think the Yankees pay A-Rod more than the Angels pay Pujols or the Tigers will pay Fielder.  When A-Rod leaves the ballpark, I bet he pops the Dire Straits’ Brother in Arms into his CD player, listening to “Money for Nothing”…

A Sad Day lies ahead…

It was mentioned today that Mariano Rivera might be the next Yankees great to call it a career, possibly as soon as the end of the upcoming season.  I’m telling ya, that’s going to be a day that I cry like a baby.  Rivera has been my favorite among current Yankees and it will be a tough day when #42 simply walks away.  I am glad that 162 regular season games and a few play-off series in October stand in the way of that dreadful day.

If Everybody Cared…

This is off-topic, but I am excited to have a ticket to the upcoming Nickelback concert tour, Here and Now.  This will be my third Nickelback concert in three years.  So far, I’ve seen them in two outdoor amphitheaters (San Jose, CA and Concord, CA) but this time I will be seeing them inside (in May at Target Arena, home of the NBA’s the Minnesota Timberwolves).  I have also enjoyed Seether and they will be one of the opening acts.  It should be a great show!

Amare, Carmelo and Fid…together again…

My next event at Target Arena, which will be my first visit to the facility, will be to cheer on the New York Knicks when they come to Minnesota to play the T-Wolves in February.  Hopefully, the Arena won’t be rocking like it will with Nickelback when the Knicks come to town.  In fact, I hope it’s eerily quiet.  Score one for the away team!

–Scott

Somehow I knew it would end like this…

 

Sad but realistic…

Well, the Yankees lost a series that they could have and should have won.  I can’t say that I am as disappointed as I’ve been in past years during play-off failures as I recognized the team had its fatal weaknesses that would be exposed the deeper it got in the play-offs.  Clearly, starting pitching has been a problem.  CC Sabathia has been great, but he hasn’t been Justin Verlander- or Roy Halladay-great.  He is still the ace and legitimately so, but the weaknesses in the rotation behind him put more pressure on CC to be perfect.  That’s a tough for anyone.  Even if the Yankees had gotten past the Detroit Tigers, I am not so sure that they would have fared well against the Texas Rangers.

When the season began, I felt that on paper the Boston Red Sox had a superior team.  My picks for the World Series were the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.  I was wrong on both counts, but I felt that the Yankees weak rotation would put too much pressure on the hitters.  When the big bats go cold, there just haven’t been the consistent key hits off the bench.  There have been a few here and there, but nothing like the critical and timely hits that Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui used to deliver.  I was concerned that this would be the final fatal blow for the Yankees chances in 2011, and that’s exactly what happened.

At the trading deadline, I had hoped the team would at least make an attempt to acquire a clutch hitter if they weren’t able to find any pitching depth.  They stood pat and did nothing.  I agree that it was the right decision if the moves would have cost talent like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Jesus Montero, but other teams found ways to spend a little to acquire a lot like the Tigers with their pickup of pitcher Doug Fister.

The priority move – sign Cash…

Although the 2011 season was a “failure” as per owner Hal Steinbrenner, I clearly hope the team decides to bring back GM Brian Cashman.  No one understands the Yankees or the city of New York better than Cash, and he’s still the right man for the job.  With so much to do in the off-season, the Yankees need to move quickly to sign Cash.  With CC likely to opt out of his contract, the Yankees will need to be equally as quick to renegotiate a replacement contract so that they can turn to ways to improve the team as opposed to sustaining the current depth of talent.  I would hate to see the Yankees lose other opportunities because they are too focused with the Cashman and Sabathia negotiations.  Last off-season, it appeared that the team was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time.  When they were chasing Cliff Lee, it seemed as though that’s all they did.  They let other matters sit, including the topic of Andy Pettitte, until Lee surprised everyone and returned to Philadelphia.  I am not quite sure why the organization is incapable of multi-tasking, but they do need to ‘divide and conquer’ if they intend to be the dominant force in 2012.

Looking forward to Jorge Posada Day…

Jorge Posada played very well in September and October, and he’s been a fantastic Yankee, but the time has come for him to go.  I hope that he decides to put the bat down and simply walks away.  I’d really hate to see him try to play again in 2012, which most likely would be with a different team.  His legacy is secured in Yankees history, and he’ll always be treated as royalty by the organization.  He was the greatest catcher since Thurman Munson, and he’ll certainly be remembered in the same room with Munson, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Elston Howard.

The “Opt-Out” I wish would happen…

How great would it be if Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract?  Sadly, that’s not going to happen and the Yankees are stuck with the guy who is trying to be the next Jose Veras rather than the next Mariano Rivera…

Bay Area Losses…

Northern California has certainly suffered great losses this week with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and now legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.   Davis is one of the guys that you just thought would live forever.  I am not a Raiders fan, but he revolutionized the game and was one of its most colorful characters.  I admired his strength and resolve, and it’s unfortunate that his final Raider seasons were filled with losses.  The game certainly won’t be the same without Davis…

–Scott

 

Does A.J. Still Play For Toronto?…


And then they were tied…



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I realize that there is nothing that can be done
about it, but I am tired of A.J. Burnett. 
I’ve always admired the arm, but the head leaves so much to be desired.  It seems as though he has to be coddled by
pitching coach Dave Eiland, and of course, A.J. fell off the map when Eiland
took a temporary leave of absence earlier this season.  Tonight, he imploded during a 7-run 5th
inning for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Against
his old teammates, A.J. let Toronto runs get to his head and he absolutely
crumbled on the mound.  I am disappointed
that Joe Girardi stayed with him as long as he did because it was clear that
Burnett had lost control of the game.  It
bothers me that the Yankees are relying on two pitchers (Burnett and Javier
Vazquez) that have to be mentally “right” to pitch effectively.  With Phil Hughes subject to an innings limit
and Andy Pettitte currently on the DL,  the only sure thing in the Yankees rotation is
CC Sabathia. 



Sabo/NY Daily News

 


The awful Burnett performance was too much for the
Yankees to overcome as they fell to the Blue Jays, 8-6, despite an attempt to
rally and Nick Swisher’s two home runs. 
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-2, to move
into a first place tie with the Yankees. 



Joe Girardi taking the ball from A.J. Burnett (Farrell)

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

I was glad to see Lance Berkman pick up his first
RBI on a run-scoring single.  He has
admitted that it will take some time to adjust to the Bronx, and it is clear
that his heart is still in Houston. 
However, I think he’ll be okay after he learns his way around.  Based on the things I’ve heard and read about
Berkman, you can’t meet too many nicer guys in the baseball so I am sure that
the city and the team will be very accommodating for him.  Yeah, even New York City can be nice at
times.



New Yankees designated hitter and first baseman Lance Berkman is excited to be back in an intense pennant race, something he missed over the last three seasons in Houston with the Astros.

Ted Mace/NY Daily News

 


Alex Rodriguez? 
0-for-5.  Can we send him down to
Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre?  Okay, I
am just kidding, but geesh, this is getting very old.  Hey A-Rod, please feel free to mix in a homer
with all those K’s…

 


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Getty Images

 

August 2nd is always a tough date on the
calendar.  It is the anniversary of
Thurman Munson’s untimely death in a 1979 plane crash.  Thurman was my favorite player at the time,
and I had been concerned about losing him to free agency to the Cleveland Indians
at the time.  In retrospect, I would have
preferred to see Thurman in a Tribe uniform rather than the fate that awaited
him.  I knew how much Thurman’s family
meant to him, and of course, that’s why he took airplane lessons to begin
with.  Baseball has never been quite the
same to me since Thurman passed. 


So, Thurman, it’s been 31 years and you’re still
missed…



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Courtesy of The Star Ledger



–Scott


One for the Boss and Bob!…

 

It simply could not have been better scripted…

 

 

 

On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

 

Uli Seit/The New York Times

 

There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling.  This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting.  It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

 

 

New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher (a.) welcomes the ceremonial pie in the face from pitcher A.J. Burnett after Swisher belts a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season.  He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.

 

Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early.  Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game.  When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80’s in his pitch count.  It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano.  Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning. 

 

The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run. 

 

In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single.  He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat.  It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute.  Unfortunately, he struck out.  With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit.  I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win.  The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end.  This one was clearly for the Boss…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day.  The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4.  I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same. 

 

 

AP

 

I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start.  His father would be very proud…

 

 

 AP

 

 

This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night.  They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique.  Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…

 

 

Yankees honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

–Scott

Remembrance of a Legend…

 

Where were you 30 years ago today?

 

Getty Images

 

Well, many of you probably weren’t even born yet.  But those of us who were most likely will remember August 2, 1979…particularly Yankees fans.  The day saw the untimely demise of #15, the Yankee Captain, Thurman Munson.

 

 

As a teenage Yankees fan, Thurman had been my hero.  While I have always credited Jim “Catfish” Hunter and the legend of Lou Gehrig as the primary reasons I became a Yankees fan despite growing up in the Midwest, it was the tough and tenacious Munson that quickly became my favorite player. 

Thurman was his own man and he wouldn’t let anyone push him around.  Not George Steinbrenner, not Billy Martin, not Reggie Jackson, not Carlton Fisk.  I will always remember the 1976 World Series…not for the series sweep at the hands of the Big Red Machine but how Thurman wouldn’t quit.  He hit .529 in the series, and at one point, had six consecutive hits.  His performance laid the foundation for the championship years of 1977 and 1978. 

I had known about Thurman’s interest in airplanes, and how he viewed it as a way to reach his family in Ohio more often.  Selfishly, I was hopeful that he’d never leave the Yankees in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but I had become increasingly fearful that he would leave at the end of his contract to sign with the Cleveland Indians (to be closer to his home).  Unfortunately, I never saw that day come and will never know if Thurman would have truly left or if he would have stayed to finish his career in pinstripes.

On August 2, 1979, I was in high school and employed by a local grocery store in a small Iowa town.  I was working when one of our customers told me that they had just heard Thurman Munson was killed in an airplane crash.  I vividly recall just standing there with a blank look of disbelief frozen on my face.   My hero had just died…

 

It is a loss that I personally will never forget.  I think about Thurman every August 2nd, and I see his spirit continue to thrive in present day Yankees like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.

 

Doug Kanter/AFP/Getty Images

 

Today was a day to remember Thurman and we continue to owe him a debt of gratitude for the way he wore pinstripes.  Thanks for the tremendous memories, Thurman.  You are still my hero…

 

 

For a great article about Thurman Munson, please read Moss Klein’s article in The Star Ledger, entitled Catcher Thurman Munson, The Captain, was the Heart and Soul of the NY Yankees.  It’s an excellent read.

 

YANKEES WIN…FINALLY…

The Yankees were able to beat the Chicago White Sox today, 8-5, to avoid being swept in the four game series which began last Thursday.

 

Mike Carlson/AP

Melky Cabrera became the first Yankee since Tony Fernandez in 1995 to hit for the cycle.  Melky went 4-for-5 with 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  He staked the Yanks to an early lead with a three-run homer in the second inning.

 

Tannen Maury/EPA

In the 9th, needing only a tripe, Melky hit a liner off the right field wall.  Trying to do his best impression of Brett Gardner, Melky sped around the bases and just beat the relay throw to third for his first triple of the season and completed the cycle.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP

 

It wasn’t a great game for CC Sabathia (perhaps he was still disappointed that his buddy, Victor Martinez, now calls Fenway Park home), however, he gutted it out and stayed in the game into the 8th inning.  Mark Buehrle, fresh off a perfect game just two starts ago, was the loser.

 

Nam Y. Huh/AP

 

With the win, the Yankees remain a ½ game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox throttled the Baltimore Orioles today, 18-10.

 

Nick Wass/AP 

Hey Julia, just 4 more days until the showdown resumes.  From what I can tell, the Yankees have finally figured out a way to beat a team called the Sox!  Life is good! 

With today’s game, Derek Jeter has now played in 2084 games, which ties Babe Ruth for fourth place on the list of most games played with the Yankees.

 

AP file 

 

A DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO

My wife and I attended the San Francisco Giants game against the Philadelphia Phillies today at AT&T Park.  It was a beautiful day for a game.  The weather forecast was cloudy and 59 degrees, however, after early cloudiness, it was all sunny skies and 66 degrees.  The Giants prevailed, 7-3, with Barry Zito getting the win over Cole Hamels. 

AT&T Park is one of my favorite ballparks, and today was definitely a treat…

 


 

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Okay, I did have to make sure that I kept an eye on a certain American League score…

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…but I managed to watch the Giants win a great game!

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Late in the game, a Dodgers fan walked up the stairs to leave the game.  The crowd booed and hissed unmercifully while the Dodgers fan just soaked it all in and waved his Dodgers cap with pride.  After the Dodgers fan had exited, a Boston Red Sox fan made the same exit except this time, no one said anything at all.  The Red Sox fan was ignored as he quietly left the stadium.  Ah, I love being back in the Bay Area…

 

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–Scott

Why Did You Become A Fan of…

The question has been asked on multiple blogs, but it is always very relevant and quite interesting…

Why did you become a fan of your favorite baseball team?

Often, it’s simply geography or a family’s passion that is passed from generation to generation.  But other times, there are deeper, individual reasons for why we follow certain teams. 

I have always been quick to say that I became a Yankees fan on December 31, 1974.  That’s the day Oakland A’s free-agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter signed a 5-year, $3.75 million contract with the Yankees.

 

Walter Iooss Jr/SI

The early 70’s were a great time to be an A’s fan, and I was on the bandwagon like all my friends.  But I was starting to get older and had gained a better awareness and understanding of baseball.  After some careful thought, I decided to follow Hunter to New York in terms of my loyalty and support.  I was immediately captivated by the personalities on the Yankees roster, and Billy Martin was quickly my all-time favorite manager.  Thurman Munson became my idol, and I can still remember the magic and excitement when Chris Chambliss hit the game winning home run in the 1976 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals (I remember watching his foot placement in the batter’s box and feeling that something huge was about to happen).

 

New York Daily News

I remember my mom was getting tired of me telling her that Reggie Jackson had hit another home run in the 1977 World Series, and sadly, I remember exactly where I was on August 2, 1979.

 

Yet, when I think about why I was attracted to the Yankees, it really happened much earlier.  When I was about 7 or 8, I read a book about Lou Gehrig. 

At the time, I was just starting to become aware of Major League baseball.  I was drawn to the history and aura of the game.  I “discovered” pro football first, but baseball quickly passed football as my true love.  Today, Lou Gehrig is my personal all-time hero, and hence, the source of the name for my blog.

“I’m not a headline guy.  I know that as long as I was following Babe Ruth to the plate I could have stood on my head and no one would have known the difference.”

–Lou Gehrig

There are multiple meanings in this quote for me personally.  Not only does it pay homage to the great class and character of Lou Gehrig, but it also recognizes that I am among greatness at MLBlogs with so many outstanding writers.

I have always been drawn to the history of the Yankees, so I think the book about Gehrig set the stage for my conversion from an A’s fan to a Yankees fan a few years later. 

A very moving article to read is the “This Morning with Shirley Povich” column that appeared in the Washington Post on July 5, 1939.  The Washington Senators played a double-header against the Yankees on July 4th, and Gehrig gave his immortal farewell speech between games.

Yankees manager Joe McCarthy made the following statement at the mike that day while openly crying:  “Lou, what else can I say except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came to my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ball player because you felt yourself a hindrance to the team. My God, man, you were never that.”

I think that quote alone can sum up why I feel that Lou Gehrig was such a special person…

The Senators won the first game, 3-2, but the Yankees came back to win the second game, 11-1, after Gehrig’s farewell.

This is an excellent tribute to Lou… 

 

Who would have known it would set me on a collision course against Julia of Julia’s Rants? 😉