LA wins NLCS to advance to Fall Classic…
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite National League team and now they represent my final hope for ending Boston’s season without a championship. The Yankees couldn’t stop the Red Sox and neither could the defending Champion Houston Astros. I wasn’t too confident heading into Game 7 of the NLCS, especially with the game being played in Milwaukee, but the Dodgers showed the resiliency they’ve had all season to win the game in convincing fashion and propel themselves into the World Series for the second consecutive year.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Nothing against the Milwaukee Brewers. I think they’re a fine baseball team and I have much respect for former Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and former Yankees Erik Kratz and Curtis Granderson, but as a Minnesota Vikings fan, the thought of a World Series between the fan bases for both the Red Sox and Green Bay Packers was a bit too much for me. I am glad the Dodgers bailed me out. I guess I should also thank former Yankee Clay Bellinger and his wife for giving birth to Cody and setting the stage for young Bellinger’s go-ahead two-run homer last night.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Stacy Revere)|
I wish the Dodgers had a more formidable bullpen outside of closer Kenley Jansen but the Red Sox proved you don’t need a great bullpen to make it to the World Series. I doubt we’ll see Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw closing out games in the World Series like he did Game 7 of the NLCS. But down the stretch, the Dodgers pen performed about as well as you could so I think I’ll take my chances with Dodger Blue over the course of the next four to seven games. The Dodgers have the bats to get into Boston’s bullpen and I think that will finally be the Achilles Heel for the Red Sox.
It will be fun to see Manny Machado back in Boston. Like Manny’s response last night while celebrating when asked if the win was sweet after the boos from the crowd. He said “what do you think?” and took a swig of champagne. Perfect! There is no love lost between Machado and the Red Sox from his days in Baltimore, and I am sure much will be written in the coming days about his villainess in the city. No doubt the boo birds will show up in full force on Tuesday night. I’d love to see Machado to emerge as one of the heroes of this World Series. It makes a nice segue for his future as a Yankee.
As previously written on this blog, I have finalized the wager with my long-time friend, Boston-area native/resident and die-hard Red Sox fan, Julia (@werbiefitz on Twitter). We have had numerous wagers over the years involving the Yankees and Red Sox. It was not meant to be (for me) this year so I am jumping on the Dodgers bandwagon for the latest wager. Well, it’s not really ‘bandwagon jumping’ since the Dodgers have long been my NL team and that wouldn’t have changed even if they had lost 115 games this year like the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees are still my primary team, but for the rest of October, I am bleeding Dodger Blue.
For our wager, the loser must change her (okay, his/her) cover photo on FaceBook to a picture of the winning team celebrating their World Series championship for seven days at the conclusion of the 2018 World Series. The loser must also read a book chosen by the winner, and then post a minimum 500-word essay about the ten things they learned reading the book. Not a book review, but rather information that he/she did not previously know about the winning organization. The essay must then be posted on Social Media for all to see.
For Julia, since the Dodgers are going to win, I’ve chosen Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition by Jon Weisman.
Should I lose, which is obviously not going to happen, Julia has chosen Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston by Howard Bryant.
We’ve had fun with these wagers over the years. I’ve had to take pics of myself wearing Red Sox hats, including a pink one, and Julia, a Red Sox fan from birth, has had to wear a Yankee hat…in public…in Boston. Since I don’t live in the New York City area, I’ve been fortunate I haven’t had to wear a Red Sox cap in the Bronx, but I am sure it is inevitable if we keep up these wagers.
Game On, Julia! I am ready. My beloved Yankees may not have been able to take down the Red Sox this year, but I get a second chance with the Dodgers. 2018 has been a year of resiliency for the Dodgers who were once ten games below .500 (16-26) during the regular season. They’ve battled back a few times, with their backs to the wall, and have always prevailed. They may have lost the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros but this is a year of redemption. You’ll always have your 108 regular season wins, but sorry, my friend, your season will end on a down note. You may want to go ahead and buy the book in advance so that you are ready to start reading.
My prediction: Dodgers in Six (with hat tip to former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre).
My apologies, I now return you to Yankees Baseball…
After celebrating Mickey Mantle’s birthday yesterday, today’s “Birthday Boy” is alive and well at age 90. Happy Birthday to the Chairman of the Board, Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford!
Whitey was born on October 21, 1928 in New York City. A lifetime Yankee, Whitey pitched for the Pinstripers in 1950, served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War (thank you for your service!), and resumed his career in the Bronx from 1953 through 1967. Ford was 236-106, 2.75 ERA, and had 1,956 strikeouts for the Yankees. He was a ten-time MLB All-Star and he won six World Series championships. In 1961, he was the AL Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP. Andy Pettitte may have surpassed Ford for most wins by a lefty in franchise history if not for Andy’s three years in Houston. Pettitte, who won 256 games overall, finished 17 wins behind Ford while wearing the famed Pinstripes. It is very appropriate for Ford to remain at the top of the list, closely followed by Pettitte, another former Yankee I hold in very high regard.
I get excited to see Whitey Ford every year on Old Timer’s Day. His health is in decay (I know, it happens to the best of us) and there will be a day when he is no longer able to take part in the Yankee Stadium festivities. Like Mantle, he was a great, great Yankee, and perhaps the greatest living one. I am so proud he is among the greatest of Yankee Legends.
I’ve seen a few Yankee fans say the team should sign Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, and Nathan Eovaldi for the starting rotation next year. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote this morning in his Sunday Baseball Notes that Eovaldi, currently part of Boston’s World Series roster, should command a deal comparable to the one that Alex Cobb signed late last off-season with the Baltimore Orioles (4 years at $57 million). If the Yankees are successful in signing Corbin and retaining Happ, that’s probably too much for the Yankees to sign Eovaldi as well, especially with young guys like Justus Sheffield, Jonathan Loaisiga, Albert Abreu and Domingo German waiting in the wings. If the Yanks lose out on Happ, I’d have no problem with an Eovaldi reunion but I am not really expecting it to happen.
As for Corbin, Cafardo notes the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Atlanta Braves will also be vying for his services. Here’s hoping “blood” is thicker than water. Assuming all dollars are fairly equal, I hope Corbin chooses his Yankee family roots. While Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado would be nice free agent signings (or in the words of TGP’s Daniel Burch, “luxuries”), Corbin is clearly the one I want and the one the team needs. Patrick, we’re waiting for ya, bud! Come join the Party in the Bronx! We will be spilling champagne in 2019!
After previously withdrawing his name from consideration for the managerial gig with the Cincinnati Reds, Joe Girardi has withdrawn his name from consideration in Texas for the Rangers job. I am a little surprised but I have always felt Girardi’s dream job is with the Chicago Cubs. I can’t see Joe Maddon staying with the Cubs too many more years so maybe that’s what Girardi is waiting for. Who knows. Maybe he is starting to understand the reasons he is no longer Yankees manager. As for the Reds, they’ll name David Bell as their new manager on Monday. Bell, like Yankees manager Aaron Boone, comes from a baseball family. His grandfather, Gus, and his father, Buddy, were both Major Leaguers. Boonie is creating a new trend…analytics AND baseball in the blood.
Lastly, a shout out to Didi Gregorius! He was sharing his million-dollar smile last night at the Knicks game. It didn’t help the Knicks win (they lost by two to Boston) but the pic put a smile on my face. It was a reality check to see his heavily wrapped elbow but the dude can light up any room with his effervescent personality. I can’t wait to see him back on the playing field, starting at shortstop, next summer.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
Yanks win again behind their Ace…
I remember in 2016 when Luis Severino was struggling as a starter and couldn’t buy a win. He was 0-8 as a starter and ended up in the pen. Many of us (well, namely me) wondered if he was better suited for a role in relief rather than the rotation. Fast-forward to June 2018 and Sevy is 10-2 with his name easily insertable among the league’s best. I can never say that I missed my calling as a Major League scout as I never saw Severino as the ace he has become. I’ll just chalk this up to one of those grand moments when I love it when I am wrong.
I love the confidence you have with games featuring Severino. Sure, he may lose like he did against the recent game against the New York Mets, but he’ll have his team in the game win or lose. On Saturday, he mowed down the Tampa Bay Rays on the way to a 4-1 victory for his 10th win of the season. He is tied with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Washington’s Max Scherzer for most wins in the Major League Baseball. His 2.09 ERA is second only to Justin Verlander’s 1.61 in the AL, and third behind Verlander and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (1.55) overall. On the mound or on the field, Sevy can do it all.
|Photo Credit: Newsday (Joseph D Sullivan)|
Against the Rays, Severino was very stingy with hits, giving up only three over eight innings. He walked two and struck out nine, handing over a scoreless game to the bullpen. Sadly, Chasen Shreve blew it when he allowed a home run to Matt Duffy to open the top of the ninth. Shreve gave up a triple to the next batter, which forced the Yankees to bring in Aroldis Chapman to close out the gem for Severino. It took all of ten pitches for Chapman to record his 20th save but Shreve clearly left a bad taste on an otherwise beautiful afternoon.
It was probably one of those games where the Yankees should have scored many more runs than they did. They certainly had their chances. With runners at first and second and two outs in the bottom of the second, the Yankees scored a run when Gleyber Torres hit a shot bounced up and off the glove of Rays third baseman Matt Duffy into left field for a double.
In the bottom of the third, the Yankees picked up another run when Aaron Judge opened the inning with a double to deep center and was brought home on a single to left by Didi Gregorius. Gregorius advanced to second on the throw, but like the second inning, the Yankees were not able to capitalize on more runs against the Rays rotation by committee.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
The fifth inning brought previews of coming attractions when Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez opened the bottom of the inning with back-to-back home runs.
|Photo Credit: AP (Adam Hunger)|
This is an example of what can easily happen with these two guys get on a roll. It’s scary to think the team is 46-20 and there are still guys on the team with subpar numbers. That would be it for Yankees scoring but with Luis Severino on the mound, all was good. Well, at least until the momentary scare by Chasen Shreve in the ninth inning.
The Yankees picked up ground in the AL East with the win, thanks to a Red Sox loss in Seattle. The Mariners got a career game out of 33-year-old Wade LeBlanc, who spent spring training with the Yankees. LeBlanc and the M’s bullpen held the Sox (48-24) to two hits in the 1-0 victory. The Yankees now lead Boston by a game and they extended baseball’s best home record to 26-10. It is an odd stat that the Yankees have the best overall winning percentage in the MLB, yet three teams have at least 46 wins like the Yankees (Mariners) or more (Red Sox and Astros).
In the ‘what more does he have to do?’ category, Brandon Drury continues to rake for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He was 3-for-5 in yesterday’s 9-7 win over the Syracuse Chiefs, driving in three runs. In 38 games for the RailRiders, Drury is batting .353/.463/.511 with .974 OPS. There’s no doubt Drury will soon find himself back in the Bronx where he belongs.
The Yankees have made a few minor moves the last couple of days. On Friday, they traded RHP Chad Whitmer, 23, to the Milwaukee Brewers for undisclosed international bonus pool money. Whitmer was drafted in the tenth round of last year’s MLB Draft. Yesterday, the Yankees acquired minor league infielder Wendell Rijo as the player to be named later in the earlier deal that sent catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers. Rijo, 22, was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox (2013) but has never been able to capitalize on his talent with consistent production. In Double A this year, Rijo’s slash line is .200/.304/.375. He has 4 homers and 14 RBI’s in 32 games. Oh well, he has a chance for a ‘do-over’ in the farm system of America’s favorite team.
Today is always one of the most exciting days annually at Yankee Stadium. Old Timer’s Day. We are privileged for every year that allows an appearance by the great and legendary Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, 89.
|Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated|
It is the first of hopefully many for the other greatest left-hander in Yankees history, Andy Pettitte. Jason Giambi will be there, sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey, as will the always-bubbly Nick Swisher. So many wonderful former Yankees (forty in total), five widows, and the team’s long-time former trainer will be present for roll call at the 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. Lovin’ the Pinstripes is a daily occurrence but today reigns supreme as a day of Yankees Pride and Passion.
The 2018 Old Timer’s Day Rosters are loaded…
Yankees Old Timer’s Day is always an exciting event each year. I love the introductions and watching former Yankees greats take the field to the massive cheers of the home crowd. I cannot think of another team that honors its alumni as well as the Yankees. While I am grateful for each year that allows legendary Hall of Famer Whitey Ford to return to Yankee Stadium, the name which excited me the most this year was Andy Pettitte. It’s always fun when Andy makes a brief appearance during Spring Training or shows up while the team is on the road in Houston, but nothing is going to match his presence in the Bronx wearing the famed Pinstripes and the interlocking N-Y baseball cap. It will be Andy’s first appearance at Old Timer’s Day. The two greatest lefties in Yankees history will share the same field at the same time. Sweet…
I am also excited to see fellow first-timer Jason Giambi who will gleefully be sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey for the day.
While I am not a fan of Yankees President Randy Levine, I do not appreciate the bitterness expressed by former Yankee Jim Leyritz who did not receive an invitation. Leyritz directed his anger at Levine. He took to Twitter yesterday with “Yes it’s a joke already. Randy Levine and Debbie Tymon (Yankees SVP, Marketing) have said I didn’t do enough in Yankee history to be invited. How many sliders did they hit. Lol” I am appreciative of Leyritz’s contributions to the Yankees but he was never a star nor considered a key performer. Maybe the results of the 1996 World Series would have been different if Leyritz didn’t hit the eighth-inning three-run homer in Game 4 to tie the game which the Yankees eventually won in extra innings on their way to the championship in six games. I have no problem with the Yankees’ decision to pass on an invitation to Leyritz. Professionalism and character are part of the package for the invitees.
Here is the complete list of this year’s Old Timer’s Day participants:
Jesse Barfield (RF, 1989-92 Yankees)
Ron Blomberg (DH…MLB’s first, 1B, RF, 1969-76 Yankees)
Brian Boehringer (RHP, 1995-97, 2001 Yankees)
Aaron Boone (3B, 2003 Yankees; Manager, 2018-Present)
Jim Bouton (RHP, 1962-68 Yankees)
Scott Bradley (C, 1984-85 Yankees)
Dr Bobby Brown (3B, SS, 1946-54 Yankees)
Homer Bush (2B, SS, 1997-98, 2004 Yankees)
David “Coney” Cone (RHP, 1995-2000 Yankees)
Johnny Damon (OF, 2006-09 Yankees)
Ron Davis (RHP, 1978-81 Yankees)
Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent (SS, 1977-82 Yankees)
Al Downing (LHP, 1961-69 Yankees)
Brian Doyle (2B, SS, 3B, 1978-80 Yankees)
Mariano Duncan (2B, SS, LF, 1996-97 Yankees)
John Flaherty (C, 2003-05 Yankees)
Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, “The Chairman of the Board” (LHP, 1950-67 Yankees)
Jason Giambi (1B, DH, 2002-08 Yankees)
Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-88 Yankees)
Charlie Hayes (3B, 1992, 1996-97 Yankees)
Reginald Martinez “Reggie” Jackson (RF, 1977-81 Yankees)
Dion James (OF, 1992-96 Yankees)
Jay Johnstone (OF, 1978-79 Yankees)
Scott Kamieniecki (RHP, 1991-96 Yankees)
Don Larsen (RHP, 1955-59 Yankees)
Graeme Lloyd (LHP, 1996-98 Yankees)
Hector Lopez (LF, 3B, 2B, 1959-66 Yankees)
Lee Mazzilli (1B, OF, 1982 Yankees)
Ramiro Mendoza (RHP, 1996-2002, 2005 Yankees)
Gene Monahan (Trainer, 1973-2011 Yankees)
Jeff “Nellie” Nelson (RHP, 1996-2000, 2003 Yankees)
Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001 Yankees)
Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-13 Yankees)
Lou “Sweet Lou” Piniella (LF, 1974-84 Yankees; Manager, 1986-87, 1988)
Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-88 Yankees; Coach, 1994-2004)
Bobby Richardson (2B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers (CF, 1976-79 Yankees)
Nick Swisher (RF, 1B, 2009-12 Yankees)
Frank Tepedino (LHP, 1967-1971, 1972 Yankees)
Marcus Thames (OF, 2002 Yankees; Coach, 2016 to Present, Yankees)
Roy White (LF, 1965-79 Yankees)
Elston Howard widow Arlene Howard (C, LF, 1B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Jim “Catfish” Hunter widow Helen Hunter (RHP, 1975-79 Yankees)
Alfred Manual “Billy” Martin widow Jill Martin (2B, 3B, SS, 1950-57 Yankees; Manager, 1975-78, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1988)
Thurman Munson widow Diana Munson (C, 1969-79 Yankees)
Bobby Murcer widow Kay Murcer (OF, 1965-74, 1979-83 Yankees)
The 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day will be on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17th prior to the Yankees scheduled game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Heck, Rays Manager Kevin Cash (C, 2009 Yankees) might want to join the festivities.
As badly as it hurt to watch the Texas Rangers make mince meat out of the Yankees pitching staff on Wednesday night, it was probably salt in the wound to watch Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals bullpen hold the same Rangers to five hits and two runs last night. Duffy (2-6, 6.14 ERA) took a shutout into the eighth inning. Seriously? I hope CC Sabathia was watching and taking notes.
Hats off to the Tampa Bay Rays for turning back a furious Red Sox rally to beat Boston, 6-3, yesterday. The loss reduced the Red Sox lead over the Yankees in the AL East to only one game. The Red Sox entertain the Atlanta Braves (29-19, 1st in the NL East) at Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series starting tonight. Glad to see them finally play some winning teams.
The Major League career of reliever Ryan Bollinger lasted one game without an appearance. He was returned to Double A-Trenton after sitting in the bullpen for Wednesday night’s loss in Texas. His spot will presumably be filled by Tommy Kahnle who is expected to be activated off the disabled list today. Greg Bird is also expected to return this weekend. I still think Tyler Austin will be the odd man out with a free bus ticket to Scranton, PA.
Hopefully Luis Severino gets the Yankees back on the winning track tonight against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Given that we will not see Shohei Ohtani pitch this weekend, there’s no doubt he’ll be penciled in at DH to take his shots at Yankees pitching. I am sure if he watched the Yankees-Rangers highlights, he is drooling at the prospect. I trust Sevy will set the right tone for the series.
|Photo Credit: SI.com (Kristyn Ulanday)|
Opening the Gates of Steinbrenner Field…
As the saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Or as I prefer to call it, the first day of the 2018 New York Yankees. Welcome, Pitchers and Catchers! Your host, Aaron Boone, and his staff are eager and ready to serve you.
I am excited and anxious to hear Boone’s kickoff press conference today at 12:00 pm ET. We’ve heard Boonie talk over the winter but now he’s officially in uniform and ready to lead Baseball’s most storied franchise to the Promised Land. It’ll be cool to get a glimpse inside his mind as he begins his Pinstriped Journey in earnest. Sure, he’s had the conference calls with his coaches and shared text messages, a few rounds of golf or dinner with his players, but today it gets real. It’s a very exciting time in the Yankees Universe. After meeting with the press today, Boone will lead the first official workout tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. Very appropriate given how much we love these Yankees.
My most recent fear was averted yesterday when it was the Texas Rangers (and not that the Yankees) that gave a minor league contract with training camp invite to free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. I was starting to get worried that we’d see him in Tampa, but alas, the Rangers saved the day.
There’s still time for new faces to appear but at the moment, the starting rotation returns intact from top to bottom and the leading contenders for second and third bases are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. The next few days will feature many bullpen sessions and we’ll get our first images of the new season.
I am ready for Yankees baseball.
The Freak is back…
Speaking of reclamation projects, the Yankees will send a scout to watch Tim Lincecum’s showcase in Seattle on Thursday according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Admittedly, when I first heard the 34-year-old was attempting another comeback, I scoffed. Two years ago, he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels after providing an open tryout in front of scouts. He failed miserably, going 2-6 with 9.16 ERA in nine games pitched. His WHIP was an unsightly 2.374. Maybe there’s nothing left, but then again, maybe there is.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Men’s Fitness (Joe Robbins, Otto Greule, Jr)|
People scoffed at Bartolo Colon when he made a comeback with the Yankees a few years ago, yet he continues to pitch and it is likely he’ll find another Major League contract somewhere this year. I am not saying that Lincecum is Colon, but at one time, Lincecum was a very good pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be anything close to that level again but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not take a shot? If he shows nothing, you help him pack his bags and send him on his way. He certainly won’t be cost prohibitive at this point in his career. I’d sign him if he shows anything on Thursday. He wouldn’t unseat any current starters in the rotation regardless of how well he throws but he could be a better option as a replacement starter than Luis Cessa if he has anything left. I am sure some team will take a chance on The Freak through a minor league deal to see if he can help.
Stick a fork in him, he’s done…
I am so very disappointed in Rich “Goose” Gossage. At one time, the guy was my favorite player. I loved to watch him come into games throwing heat and shutting down the opposition. It was tough to watch Goose leave the Yankees when he signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Padres in January 1984. Even tougher watching the Padres in the World Series that year, who also featured former Yankee Graig Nettles at third base, even if they lost to the Detroit Tigers. I was excited when he played for a couple of months with the Yankees at the end of the 1989 season despite being in the twilight of his career. I was proud when he was named to MLB’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Unfortunately, his behavior since that time has been anything but professional.
Last year, he took shots at Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, one of my all-time favorite Yankees over the course of my lifetime, which I did not appreciate nor respect. When I heard the Yankees had not extended an invitation to Spring Training for Goose this year, I felt it was the right thing. The Yankees did not need the unwanted attention and distraction for a new manager and coaching staff. Yet, the New York Daily News beat writers had to reach to Goose to get comment about the spurned invitation and he chose to use it as a forum to go off on GM Brian Cashman.
Frankly, I don’t care if Gossage ever sets foot in Yankee Stadium again. He comes across as an angry old man to me. I am tired of his “back in my day” rants. He played in a different era but it doesn’t mean that it was better. The game has changed. Sadly, Gossage has not. There is no place for him with today’s game and no place for him in the Yankees Universe. Let him go play Old Timer’s games with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners. What? Those teams do not hold their former players in same high regard as the Yankees? Sucks for him. Good riddance…
Rest in peace, facial hair…
We also say goodbye to CC Sabathia’s beard.
While I personally feel that the Yankees should change the long-standing team policy that prohibits facial hair outside of “porn star” mustaches, it’s too bad that they can’t at least open Spring Training to a relaxed hair policy before the team heads north to put on the famed pinstriped jerseys. Sabathia had a very cool beard this winter, as did a number of other players. It would be nice to see them with a tougher look, if only for the exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field. Some guys, like Jordan Montgomery, could seriously stand an edgier look instead of the choir boy approach. I know, the hair policy will never change. The Steinbrenner Family will always preserve George’s wishes as long as they own the team. I get the professionalism aspect to the policy but I am also a believer in self-expression. I am not crazy about Justin Turner’s flowing red hair and beard with the Los Angeles Dodgers but it is who he is and I would not want to change him. If it works for the player, it works for me.
The baseball offseason is over. It is time to get to work…
|Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)|
|Credit: Getty Images|
Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1…
It may not have resulted in the AL East championship, but CC Sabathia gave the Yankees what they needed to propel the team to the narrow victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Give credit to the Yankees for making the Boston Red Sox earn the division title and not handing it to them. This was a game for the ages, raising the names of Whitey Ford and Babe Ruth…
Sabathia locked into a pitching battle with Toronto’s Marcus Stroman for the first few innings. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 4th when Aaron Judge belted a monster blast over the left field seats (484 feet) for his 52nd home run of the year. All Rise!
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
But the Yankees weren’t finished. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left, a ball that nearly grazed the top of the glove of Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins. While Starlin Castro was taking his hacks at Stroman, a wild pitch got away from catcher Russell Martin (a bouncer through his legs) allowing Didi to advance to second. With the count full, Castro singled to center, past a diving Ryan Goins who barely got a piece of his glove on the ball, to score Gregorius. The Yankees were up, 2-0.
The Blue Jays changed pitchers for the bottom of the 5th with reliever Aaron Loup replacing Stroman. Loup walked two of the first three batters he faced (the two Aarons) to put Hicks in scoring position, but the Blue Jays pulled Loup and inserted Carlos Ramirez who shut down Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius on a strikeout and fly out, respectively.
The top of the 6th brought a little drama and memories of the Jeffrey Maier incident years ago the then 12-year-old reached out to catch Derek Jeter’s fly in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS and Jeter was awarded a home run. With one out, Ryan Goins got a hold of a Sabathia pitch and sent it high to right. Momentarily, it appeared to be a home run but replayed showed a young fan reaching out to catch the ball. The play was reviewed but the call on the field (ground-rule double due to fan interference) was upheld. Goins took second and the fan was shown the exit. Sabathia struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out but with Josh Donaldson on deck, CC’s day was done. Chad Green came into the game and got Donaldson to hit a fly to left for the final out. The shutout remained intact much to the delight of Sabathia. Sabathia finished with 5 2/3 innings pitched, and giving up only four hits with no runs or walks. He struck out six in what may have been his final Yankees regular season start.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Tommy Kahnle took over for Green in the top of the 8th and unfortunately gave his best impersonation of Dellin Betances (the bad version). The first batter he faced, Ezequiel Carrera, hit a soft dribbler on the third base side and beat the throw from Kahnle to first. Miguel Montero, pinch-hitting for Rob Refsnyder, drew a walk so the Blue Jays had the tying run on base. Kahnle was pulled and replaced with David Robertson. Ryan Goins struck out but D-Rob missed with a full count fastball to walk Teoscar Hernandez. The bases were loaded with only one out. Josh Donaldson hit a fly to left for the second out, with Carrera coming home to score on the sacrifice. Brett Gardner had to run to make the catch as the wind pulled it back, and his throw to the plate almost nailed Carrera but Gary Sanchez couldn’t hold on to the ball.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Robertson came through big when he struck out Justin Smoak swinging to preserve the Yankee lead by the slim one-run margin.
Aroldis Chapman on the for the 9th inning and it was 1-2-3 game over with Starlin Castro running to his left to catch Darwin Barney’s line drive for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees (91-70) saw their hopes for the AL East title dashed in the clubhouse when the Boston Red Sox completed their 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros. David Price got the Sox out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th inning. Former Yankee Brian McCann did his part with a homer in the 9th inning but it wasn’t enough. The Yankees will host the AL Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. The winner will advance to play the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Red Sox will continue their current series with the Houston Astros in their ALDS matchup, moving from Boston to Houston for Game 1.
Congratulations to CC Sabathia (14-5) for his successful season. I know that I had given up hope for the aging pitcher, like many fans, but he showed that he is capable of reinventing himself ala Andy Pettitte. The win was Sabathia’s 237th of his career, passing the legendary Whitey Ford.
The troublesome knee is still a concern but CC Sabathia earned his right to be part of the 2018 Yankees. Hopefully, the team and the player can come together for a mutually rewarding contract in the off-season.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Aaron Judge will most likely not play today so if that’s the case, he finishes with a .284 batting average, 52 home runs and 114 RBI’s. His homer was the 33rd of the year at home, breaking the franchise record set by none other than the immortal George Herman “Babe” Ruth in 1921. It’s been an incredible season for the highly talented young slugger. First full season and he’s rubbing shoulders with the greatest of the greats in franchise history.
Odds & Ends…
Andrew Romine of the Detroit Tigers became the fifth player to play all nine positions in a Major League game. To play catcher, he used a ‘hand me down’ glove courtesy of his brother Austin. Romine pitched in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Tigers nursing a 3-2 lead over the Minnesota Twins. He retired the only batter he faced, Miguel Sano, on a ground out to third. He handled all of his defensive chances cleanly. A very nice accomplishment for Austin’s older brother.
|Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports|
There was a nice Twitter exchange between Aaron Judge and Marcus Stroman after yesterday’s game.
Stroman: @TheJudge44 is creating history. He hits baseballs extremely far too. Lol looking forward to competing against him the rest of my career!
Judge: Much respect @MStrooo6!! Love your fire and passion for this game!! Keep that chip on your shoulder!! 👊👊
Stroman: Always my man. The future battles will be legendary. Good luck in the playoffs young king!
Personally, I would rather see these two become Yankee teammates…
Have a great Sunday! The final game of the regular season. Let’s bring home a victory in preparation for Tuesday. Go Yankees!
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Rangers 7, Yankees 6…
Bad Mike seems to be making more frequent appearances these days. Unfortunately, Michael Pineda chose the day of the 71st Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium to throw up another stink ball.
The Yankees were immediately in the hole when the Texas Rangers opened with three runs in the top of the first. Delino DeShields, Jr. led off with a double and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus. Old-Timer Adrian Beltre, showing that he still has it, followed with a homer to left.
In the Rangers’ second, after Jonathan Lucroy opened with a single, Pineda came within a strike of getting out of the inning when he walked DeShields. Shin-Soo Choo made Pineda pay for it with a three-run blast to the second deck in right. It was 6-0 Rangers before most people had time to settle in to watch the game.
Pineda gave us a little view of his dominant side in the third when he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout. It was a facade. In the 4th, with two outs, the Rangers added what would prove to be the game-winning insurance run when rookie second baseman Drew Robinson grabbed his first major league hit with a solo home run to center. The Rangers held a commanding 7-0 lead.
Pineda (7-4) didn’t come back for the fifth so his final line was ugly. 4 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. The outing pushed his ERA back over 4 to 4.12.
Tyler Webb, making his second major league appearance, pitched the fifth. It didn’t start well for Webb when he walked the first two batters on 3-2 counts. But he rebounded to get Beltre to hit into a double play and struck out Rougned Odor.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees made it a game again. Mason Williams led off with a single. Following outs by Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner, Austin Romine struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch by Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez. Aaron Judge followed with a run-scoring single to push the first Yankee run across the plate. Gary Sanchez made it 7-4 with a three-run shot to center.
The Yankees continued to chip away when Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with his second home run of the season, a shot to left. Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez walked with two outs. Didi Gregorius singled to right to score Judge, but Sanchez was tagged out at third to end the inning. The Yankees had closed to within one run, 7-6. “That’s a mistake on my part. I should never be the last out at third base.” — said Sanchez through an interpreter after the game.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A scoring opportunity was wasted in the eighth inning when Chase Headley opened with a double, but he was left stranded at second, thanks to a ground out and two strikeouts. The Yankees had one more shot in the 9th when Aaron Judge hit a two-out single but Gary Sanchez went down swinging against Rangers closer Matt Bush to end the game.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect top of the 9th, striking out the side in the losing effort. Despite the loss, it was good to see a solid effort by the Yankees bullpen. Webb, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Chapman pitched five scoreless innings after the Pineda debacle.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Aaron Hicks left the game with right oblique tightness. He was scheduled to have a MRI last evening and the immediate word is that he could miss up to 3-4 weeks. Jacoby Ellsbury is the most likely choice for activation after a weekend of rehab starts. He was 2-for-5 on Sunday, with 2 RBI’s, for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This would be a great time to promote Dustin Fowler, but then again, there is the small issue of room on the 40-man roster. No word yet on the Yankees plans when Hicks is placed on the DL.
Both Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro missed the game. Holliday is still dealing with the allergic reaction that arose in Oakland while Castro had a cortisone shot for a sore wrist.
The Yankees (40-33) remained tied for first place in the AL East as the Los Angeles Angeles defeated the Boston Red Sox again, 4-2. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5, so they are still 2 1/2 games behind. The bottom two teams in the AL East were the only ones to gain ground. The Orioles are 4 games back, while the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2, are 5 games.
Hopefully, the Yankees can rediscover the magic that has alluded them since the West Coast road trip. They’ll be in Chicago tonight to start a four-game series against the White Sox. If they can’t start winning with consistency, next weekend in Houston is not going to be pretty.
2017 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium
The weather cooperated for the 71st Old Timer’s Day. It was a beautiful setting for the pre-game announcements and it was spectacular to see so many Yankee greats and their families.
Credit: Seth Wenig-AP
Following a recorded intro by the late Bob Sheppard, Michael Kay and John Sterling had the honors of the pre-game introductions.
Widows of Yankee Greats
Helen Hunter, wife of Jim “Catfish” Hunter
Jill Martin, wife of Billy Martin
Diana Munson, wife of Thurman Munson
Kay Murcer, wife of Bobby Murcer
Former Players and Managers, and a Long-Time Trainer
The Chairman of the Board
The Yankees presented two chairs from the old Yankee Stadium to Raines in recognition of his entry into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
They also gave tribute to the many members of the Yankees family that have departed in the past year.
The Old Timer’s Game saw the Clippers defeat the Bombers, 2-1.
Next Up: The Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, IL
Here are the pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (5-4, 3.74 ERA)
White Sox: David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-3, 3.30 ERA)
White Sox: Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.69 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)
White Sox: Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 3.73 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)
White Sox: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA)
Have a great Monday! Let’s Go Yankees!
I was never a fan of good-byes…
Sadly, the 2013 Major League Baseball Season has come to an end. Well, at least for the New York Yankees. It was an eventful final week that saw a farewell to the great Mariano Rivera that was unmatched by any I have seen in recent years or even during my lifetime. Mo’s final game at Yankee Stadium turned out to be the final game of his professional career as he chose not to pitch during the season-ending series in Houston to preserve his Bronx goodbye as the final exit for a storied and soon to be Hall of Fame career.
I have been a Mariano Rivera fan since the days when he set up John Wetteland in the bullpen. His 7th and 8th inning appearances before the cardiac appearances by Wetteland were electric. The ball seemed to come screaming with blazing speed yet Mo seemed so effortless in letting the ball leave his hand. He made it look easy, and for the length of his career, he proved he was just a little better than everyone else. Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way. A couple of key blown saves in critical games, but these were few and far between. His success rate was far superior to any failures, and in those failures, you knew that Mo had left his all.
Looking back, I certainly have no regrets. It was an honor and privilege to be a Yankees fan and to witness the career of the latest Yankees legend. He’ll be someone that my grandchildren will be talking about, and I can say that I saw him pitch from the beginning to the end. Mo showed how special it was to play for one team, and he is forever embedded into Yankees lore. Ichiro Suzuki will be immortalized in Cooperstown one day as a Seattle Mariner, but Seattle will never be able to call Ichiro exclusively their own. They may have had his best years, but he still is playing his final years as a Yankee, not a Mariner. Fortunately, we never had to see Mo in another uniform or his former catcher, Jorge Posada.
I have been a Yankees fan since 1974 when free agent Jim “Catfish” Hunter, then my favorite pitcher, signed with the Yankees. I had grown up very intrigued by the Yankees with their great history and tradition. Those early 70’s were still a tough time for the Yankees organization, but they were about to turn the corner following the acquisition of the team by George Steinbrenner and his partners. To digress, I always loved the quote “There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner”. This quote is attributed to former Yankees minority owner and later Houston Astros owner John McMullen. The first baseball biography I recall reading when I was little was a book about Lou Gehrig, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. So, when Catfish made the decision to join the Yankees, it was very easy for me to follow.
During the course of my Yankees fandom, I’ve considered the following players to be my favorite Yankees. Hunter, Thurman Munson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Don Mattingly, and Mariano Rivera. All those years and I can still count my favorite active Yankees on one hand, well until today with Rivera’s retirement. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect other Yankees over the years, these guys just happened to be my personal favorites at the time they played.
Being someone who appreciates history and tradition, I’ve always felt that Rivera was the perfect man to take Jackie Robinson’s number to retirement for the final time. Mo proved that he had the character to stand with greatness, and he served the legacy of Jackie Robinson very proudly and understood its significance. I am glad that the last guy out of baseball with #42 wasn’t some thug just trying to hang on to a lost career, with rumors of a steroid past. He wears #13. Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean that, or maybe I did, but you get the point. Jackie Robinson was a great man who dealt with more adversity than any of us will ever knew. He did it while turning the other cheek and proving he was the better man. He did this while carving out a Hall of Fame career on the field. If there was a man who deserved to have his number retired across baseball, it was Robinson, and if there was a man who deserved to be the final one to walk off the field with it, it was Mo. The Baseball Gods made sure this one played out like it was supposed to.
Mo, we thank you for simply being you. You did it your way, and you never strived to be anything other than what you were. You proved better than most in shaking off the game’s failures and you never gloated in its successes. You were proud of your teammates and respectful of your opponents. Baseball needs you, and I hope that this is just the beginning as you move into the next phase of your career. I am proud, very proud, when I say that I am a Mariano Rivera fan. He exceeded my wildest expectations and he leaves as the best ever at his position. He deserves to be a first ballot entry to the Hall of Fame. Anything less is unacceptable. He was ours and he proved he belongs to the Hall like no other that I’ve personally witnessed during my lifetime. Farewell, Mo. This is not the end, but simply the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next.
AP Photo (courtesy of LoHud Yankees Blog)
The gaze from under the brim of his cat…
While the focus of this post is Rivera, I would be remiss for not saying thanks to Andy Pettitte. Time and again, he stopped losing streaks and he was clutch when it mattered most (October). He never had the brilliant stuff of Felix Hernandez or Roy Halladay, but he was a winner. His passion showed and he was a champion. It was tough watching him leave via free agency for those three years in Houston, but I am glad he came back. Even during his time in Houston, you’d hear stories about how Andy still followed the Yankees. He is part of the Yankees family and history and always will be. It was so very fitting that his final game was a complete game win in his hometown of Houston. A bit ironic that the opponent was named Clemens (Paul Clemens, no relation to Roger). For the final game of the season, Roger Clemens did make an appearance to wish farewell to Mariano, and he gave Andy a hug. There has been a lot of mudslinging between the former close friends and regardless of what Roger may have or have not done, I was glad to see the small reconciliation. Baseball is greater than any one of us, and at the end of the day, Clemens, Pettitte, and Rivera were teammates and they represented the our team. I fully expect to see all three at future Old Timer’s Day games and I am hopeful that old scars can be healed and that the game itself can move forward.
Back to Andy, he will be a hard act to follow. When you look at the Yankees pitching staff, there is not one that can match Andy’s heart. CC Sabathia appears to be on the downside of his career, Hiroki Kuroda could very well head to Japan for his final season or two, Phil Hughes has worn the pinstripes for the last time, Ivan Nova is a roller-coaster and the jury is still out on David Huff. Next season will be one of transition and it is unfortunate that we’ll no longer have Andy as an anchor to the rotation. Andy’s ceiling was never as a #1 pitcher. He came to the major leagues with question marks, but he left as one of its greatest post-season performers. We were lucky to call Andy one of our own, and I am glad that he was never dealt away in one of those knee-jerk type of trades that we saw during the George Steinbrenner regime. Sorry, George, I miss you but you gotta admit that some of those trades left a little bit to be desired…
Getting back on track, Andy leaves the game being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest lefty in Yankees’ history, the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. The Core Four (Rivera, Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter) did an excellent job in reaching the pinnacle of their positions in franchise history. Posada may not have matched Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey or Thurman Munson, but he can stand in the same room. DJ is obviously one of the greatest shortstops in the team’s history (along with Phil Rizzuto). For a team so stacked in history and tradition, four contemporary players reaching the upper echelon is amazing. It is the end of a terrific Yankees era, and as much as I hate to see Derek Jeter go out with an injury filled career, I would prefer for him to leave now rather than to come back next year for what most likely will be a year of reduced relevance on the roster.
What does the future hold?…
I really do not know what to expect next year. At the moment, it is uncertain if Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson will be back. Joe Girardi is talking about needing time to decide if he wants to come back which is not a good sign in my opinion. Mark Texeira will be back next year, but he is deteriorating as he ages. I am not sure that CC can get back to being the dominant pitcher he once was, and the line-up is filled with age and injury-susceptible players. The farm system at the upper levels is weak, at best. While many of said that this has been a great year of managing by Joe Girardi, I’d argue that it has not been one of Brian Cashman’s best years. I do not know how much he has been constrained by ownership, but the 10 wins that the team could have used this season could have been acquired through smart and strategic moves. The farm system is very lacking at the upper levels and I know that injuries have played a part, but at some point, Cashman has to be held accountable. Like fine wine, it is harvest season except the Yankees do not have anything to harvest. They’ll have to overpay and to give up too much young talent to field a championship squad next season. Unfortunately, neither makes sense even for the Yankees, so it feels as though we are in the midst of an era of transition. Hopefully, greatness will be waiting on the other side…