Tuesday, September 30, 2014

D4Assignment: Big Names, Big Games in AL Wild Card Contest

James Shields and Jon Lester, dueling aces

It has been 29 years since the Kansas City Royals reached the postseason. 1985 saw the Royals win their one and only World Series Championship. (With a little help from umpire Don Denkinger.) Tuesday night, the Royals will host the Oakland A’s in a one game showdown between the two AL Wild Card winners. To the victor go the spoils and a divisional round match up with the Los Angeles Angels. You know where the losers go.

The A’s have been to the playoffs 11 times during the Royals drought, but haven’t been to the World Series since 1990. Their last World Series title, the ninth in franchise history (The first five were won when they called Philadelphia home), came in the “Earthquake series” with the San Francisco Giants.

The Royals were an expansion team in 1969, two years after the A’s departed Kansas City after a 13-season run. The only prior postseason meeting between the two squads came after the strike-shortened 1981 regular season. The Billy Martin-managed A’s swept KC in three straight games before they were swept in three games by the New York Yankees in the ALCS. It was a disappointing end of the season for Kansas City, which lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies one year earlier.

Read the rest of the article for free (as always)at Designated For Assignment.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jeter's Big Night: What They Are Saying

Teammate Brett Gardner:

 Teammate CC Sabathia:

 YES Network announcer Michael Kay when Jeter delivered in the 9th:
"Derek Jeter; turning fantasy into reality."

You could hear Tino Martinez yell, "That was awesome!" to his former teammate and fellow Florida snowbird. Charles Jeter told his "I'm proud of you."

Former teammate Paul O'Neill:

Yankees announcer Ken Singleton:
Tigers pitcher David Price, who gave up hit #3000 to Jeter when Price was on the Rays.

Price's teammate Justin Verlander:
Hall of Fame Wide Receive Chris Carter
Former Braves 3rd baseman Chipper Jones:
Former teammate and YES Network announcer John Flaherty:
Twins infielder Brian Dozier:

YES Network's Jack Curry:

More from Jack on the YES website.

Under The Glare Of The Spotlight Jeter Still Has Ice Water In His Veins

Last night's game 2014 Yankee Stadium finale between the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees will be like Woodstock. Everyone will claim they were there due to the incredible start, middle, and especially the ending of Derek Jeter's career in pinstripes.

With the fans on pins and needles waiting to see if Jeter would exit the 9th inning early to a standing ovation, closer David Robertson gave up a pair of home runs to blow a 3-run lead. Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 9th, Robertson was quickly forgiven by the fans. The tie meant that Jeter would get at least one more at-bat in his home away from home, and what an at-bat it was.

John Sterling's call of Jeter's game winner: 

Jose Pirela, who has played 2,741 less games than Jeter, started off the bottom of the 9th with a single through the left side of the infield. Brett Gardner bunted to move the winning run into scoring position and set a showdown between Evan Meek, who was making his 23rd big league appearance, and Jeter. Would Buck Showalter walk Jeter to set up the double play? Just as Jeter plays until the final out or winning run, Showalter manages in the same manner.

When Orioles' catcher Caleb Joseph got into his normal squat behind home plate, you knew the 46,000-plus in attendance and anyone watching or listening on the TV or radio were relieved. And Jeter didn't wait long to let Showalter change his mind. In a very "Jeterian" moment, the Yankees' shortstop jumped on Meek's first pitch, and drilled it through the right side, just like he has done thousands of times before. Right fielder Nick Markakis has a cannon for an arm, but his throw was late as speedy pinch-runner Antoan Richardson slid across home plate with the winning run. Jeter raised his arms in exaltation and jumped in the air as he saw Richardson. (Incredibly, it was the Captain's first walk off winner in seven years).

Jeter's teammates quickly flooded the field and lifted him off the ground. And the smiles and tears flowed, Jeter included. He greeted all of his current teammates, manager, and coaches, his former teammates Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, and Gerald Williams, and his former manager Joe Torre. His parents, sister, nephew, and girlfriend all got hugs and kisses. And as the YesNetwork's Meredith Marakovits interviewed him on the field, he even allowed CC Sabathia and Gardner to give him a Gatorade shower.

The way the game ended left everyone mumbling, "did I just see that". Yes you did. Sadly, for the last time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jeter's Thirst Quenching Finish With Gatorade

I might not ordinarily write what you are, hopefully, about to read, but hey it has to do with Derek Jeter. Once Jeter announced that this would be his final season, he and Gatorade teamed up for a new commercial to be shown in the final week of Jeter's career.

The commercial will air publicly beginning September 20, but you can see it here (and on other Yankees blogs) first. The commercial is an extension of the public letter Jeter released back in February (see a copy at the bottom of this post), in which the Yankees' captain took the opportunity to thank the fans. Perhaps one of you is even in the commercial that features Jeter interacting with fans.

There will be ads in the NY Times and NY Daily News as well. (I guess the NY Post wasn't interested.)

Here is the 90-second "Thank you" commercial:

As you can see in the photos below, during the Yankees series with the Orioles (beginning Sept. 22), Gatorade advertising (coolers, cups, and towels) inside the Yankees' dugout will feature the #2 instead of the traditional capital "G" on the Gatorade logo.

Check out the #2 Gatorade Squeeze bottles that you can win: Just be one of the first 10 people to email me at mypinstripes@gmail.com with your name and home address (including zip code), and Gatorade will send you one of the #2 squeeze bottles. Be sure to put "Jeter Prize" in the subject line.
The Contest is closed. The winners are:

Jen Parrish
Evan Goldfarb
Lex Johnson
Tina Stawinski
Jack Newman
Malinda Singh
Michael Held
Connor Rogers
Doug Klein
Ralph Lepore

Jeter's February, 2014 Thank you

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Despite Win, A Horrible Year For The Yankees Continues

Carlos Beltran with his wife Jessica and daughters Ivana and Kiera in happier times.

The Yankees topped the Tampa Bay Rays tonight, 3-2, but it's hard to find much joy due to the sad news that was released tonight.

Carlos Beltran announced on his Facebook page that his wife had a miscarriage and they had lost the baby son she was carrying. It would have been the family's first son.

Below is the statement from Beltran in Spanish and the English translation, which could be slightly incorrect.
La vida me acaba de quitar la bendición de tener mi primer hijo (varón). Conozco de Dios y vivo agradecido por todas sus bendiciones como mi bella familia, amigos, fanáticos y mi carrera. Todo es y será en el tiempo perfecto de Dios y así mi esposa y yo lo aceptamos. Gracias por el cariño y los mensajes. 

The life of me just take the blessing of having my first son ( man ). I know God and I am grateful for all his blessings like my beautiful family, friends, fans and my career. Everything is and will be at the time, a perfect God and my wife and i accept this. Thank you for the love and the messages.

Beltran had left earlier in the day in what was described as a "personal matter".
My condolences to the Beltran family for their tragic loss.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yankees and Jeter Running to the Sunset

Jeter and Prado have fist bumped for the last time.

If you still held out hope that the Yankees could somehow grab an AL wild card spot, you can completely forget it now. The team that has been dropping like flies in losses and manpower, is now completely done. Versatile Martin Prado, who has been one of the few players to swing a consistently good bat, is done for the rest of the year after his appendix decided it wanted to come out.

Yes, what you hear is the final nail being hammered into the 2014 coffin. Feel free to add any other cliche you would like. The announcement that Prado's season was done was met with laughter and not just by me. No, I don't think it's funny that Prado needed surgery. It is gallows humor, because just about everything that could go wrong with this team has gone wrong. Injuries, sub-par seasons, overpaid/underachieving players shuttling in and out of the lineup. It's been miserable.

Last night's walk-off loss, the third in the last five games came as no surprise. There was no anger on my part, just a resigned, "I knew that would happen" attitude. And that's coming from one of the most optimistic fans you will find. But the writing has been on the wall for this season for some time. And it's a shame, but that's what happens when you give tons of money to the wrong people, collect a roster full of elderly players, and don't make front office changes. I never liked the way George Steinbrenner handled things in his heyday, but Hal needs to start wielding a front office axe or the Yankees dry spell for the playoffs will be a lot longer than two years.

Derek Jeter's mediocre season in a mediocre year has made it even touger to watch games over these last six months. The Captain, in the midst of an 0-24 skid at the plate, sat out last night's l-0, 9th inning loss to Tampa Bay. Just 13 games remain in Jeter's final season. His last home game is a week from Thursday before a three game adios in Fenway Park. It's been a more disappointing season than Mariano Rivera's final bow in 2013. The Yankees' closer was still sharp and saved 44 games. The long-time Yankees' shortstop has seen his average dip to .250, his on-base PCT. to .298 and his OPS to a sickly .596.

Yes, those are the worst numbers of Jeter's career for any season in which he has played in 100 or more games. And THAT has been every season except 1995, when he got a brief call up and the injury riddled 2013 season. (His lowest OPS in a 100+ season until this point was .710 in 2010)

Hopefully, Jeter has one more run in him. A streak of singles and doubles, and perhaps one last home run in him before the season ends. That's all Yankees' fans have to hope for now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Young Proves Sterling Is Right

You've heard the mantra thousands of times on the Yankees' radio broadcast. The "voice of the Yankees" (Mel Allen is turning over in his grave), John Sterling, will utter the phrase, "You can't predict baseball, Suzyn" at least once a game. The Suzyn, of course, is Suzyn Waldman, Sterling's sidekick on WFAN radio.

Last night the Yankees' Chris Young proved that Sterling has been on the money with that statement all along. Young, cut by the Mets on August 15 due to a complete lack of productivity (it's safe to say he sucked), hit a very improbably walk-off, 3-run home run that gave the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and kept the unrealistic dream of the playoffs alive for another day.

If Thursday night's game was a championship bout, the Yankees were down on the mat and the referee had counted to seven and was about to count to eight. Rays' starter Alex Cobb was within six outs of a no-hitter (there was no perfect game due to an error charged to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who dropped a routine fly ball in the 3rd inning.) when Young broke it up with a double to the gap in right-center.

With the no-no gone, Rays' skipper Joe Maddon sent for Brad Boxberger to face Brendan Ryan. Joe Girardi countered with Martin Prado and the pinch-hitter promptly deposited a 2-run home run into the left field seats. Suddenly, the Yankees were alive...if you consider a team that struggles to get three runs a game, alive.

Hard throwing lefty Jake McGee came on in the 9th to close things out, but hit Chase Headley in the chin to start the inning. McGee was clearly shaken up by what had occurred and left a pitch up to Ichiro Suzuki. He's not the hitter he once was, but Ichiro can still occassionaly use his bat like a master swordsman. He did against McGee, lashing double to left-center.

Zealous Wheeler pinch-hit for Stephen Drew, but was clearly overmatched and struck out for the first out of the inning. That brought up Young, who had a .630 OPS when the Mets kicked him to the curb. He fouled off a 98-mph fastball and then jumped on a 97-mph heater that left quickly left the field of play. A wild celebration ensured, complete with Gatorade dousing.. You could predict that.

But you can't predict baseball, Suzyn.


As a Yankee, Young has a 1.667 OPS. He's 6-12 (.500) with two home runs, two doubles, and seven RBI.

Michael Pineda had pitched beautifully since his return from shoulder soreness earlier this year. Last night was not his night though. He gave up a pair of home runs to shortsop Yunel Escobar, who entered the game with four home runs for the year. Pineda has been a victim of a lack of run support, but last night his teammates bailed him out. Shawn Kelley improved to 3-5 with the win.

A scarey moment occurred in the 7th inning when Boxberger hit Derek Jeter in the elbow with a pitch. Jeter's left arm went dead, but he remained in the game.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Washington Quits Rangers

In a surprising move Friday, Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington stepped down as skipper of the ball club. Washington cited a "personal matter" for his departure after 140 games had been played this season. Texas has had an awful year, posting just 53 wins after five straight 90-win seasons. The team missed much of its manpower this season, including three starting pitchers (Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison) due to injuries.

The first thing that came to mind when I heard the news was that Washington might be having a drug related issue - he admitted to cocaine use in 2009 - but club GM Jon Daniels vehemently denied that was the case.

Washington was hired as Rangers manager prior to the 2007 season after a successful run as an Oakland A's coach. The team finished 75-87, but two years later was 87-75. They won the American League pennant in 2010 and 2011, losing in the World Series to San Francisco and St. Louis. The Rangers were eliminated by Baltimore in the one game wild card playoff in 2012, and failed to make the post-season last year despite a 91-win campaign.

Washington's in-game strategy has always been a curious one, but he was popular with his players and leaves with a 664-611 (.521) lifetime record at the helm. Bench coach Tim Bogar will take over as interim manager for the remainder of the season.