Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Miranda Reads Royals Their Rights

Miranda Gets It Right

Written for Baseball Digest Online

The Yankees are supposed to be taking it easy these days. Resting up for the post-season onslaught. But they celebrated last night’s 15th walk-off win of the season in their usual 2009 manner. And a new player was indoctrinated with a pie in the process. Juan Miranda capped a 9th inning comeback, singling in the game winner in the Yankees 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Derek Jeter (breaking Lou Gehrig’s team hit record) and Mariano Rivera (500 saves) were honored prior to the game for the new heights they achieved this season, but it was some first year Yankees that combined for the victory. Robinson Cano had tied the game up at 3-3 with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly that scored rookie Francisco Cervelli from 3rd base. Eric Hinske, who had singled earlier in the inning, stole 2nd base, and moved to 3rd when John Buck’s throw sailed into center field. Former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth intentionally walked Johnny Damon in order to face rookie Juan Miranda.

The Cuban native entered the game in the top of the 9th for Mark Teixeira and had just 15 big league at-bats. He hit a ball sharply back up the middle that ricocheted off of Farnsworth and into foul territory on the 1st base side. Miranda reached 1st base uncontested and raised his arms in a victory salute as Hinske scored the game winner. He was then mobbed by his joyous teammates and then got the special treatment of pie ala towel courtesy of starter A.J. Burnett, who had pitched impressively for the second straight start.

Burnett’s consistency is one of the Yankees biggest concerns entering the post-season, but his last two starts have done a lot to allay those fears. Last night he allowed just three hits over 6 1-3 innings and struck out 8 before leaving with two men aboard and the game tied at one apiece. Phil Coke’s physical and mental errors put the Yankees down 3-1 and would have saddled Burnett with the loss had the Yankees not come from behind.

Nick Swisher
chipped away at the lead with a long home run off of rookie Anthony Lerew in the 7th to cut the deficit to one. Teixeira had earlier hit his 39th home run, tying him with the injured Carlos Pena for tops in the American League.

Game Notes

Brian Bruney had another effective outing, retiring four of the five batters he faced. He also picked up the victory to improve to 2-0.

Yogi Berra, Tino Martinez, Reggie Jackson, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Tim Raines, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada were among the current and former Yankees that helped honor Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

David Robertson pitched for the first time since September 5 after sitting out with elbow trouble. He faced three hits, retiring two and issuing a walk.

The Yankees conclude their regular season home schedule tonight with Joba Chamberlain going up against Robinson Tejeda.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knoblauch Fought the Common Law...

The Knoblauchs in...happier times?

I never thought ol' Chuckie Knoblauch was the brightest star in the universe, but today's accusations against him are far worse than I would have imagined.

The former Yankees 2nd baseman/outfielder/pine rider has been charged, according to, with assaulting his common-law wife Stacey. Knoblauch reportedly struck his wife in the face and choked her when she attempted to take his car keys. Prosecutors said this occurred after Knoblauch spent the evening drinking and had taken the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. Bond has been set at $10,000.

Knoblauch was mentioned in the Mitchell Report two years ago and admitted the use of steroids in front of a subsequent Congressional hearing.

Tigers, Twins - Pick Your Poison

While the Yankees get their regulars some rest this week, they'll also be keeping an eye on the Detroit Tigers-Minnesota Twins series that could determine the AL Central winner and the Yankees first round opponent in this year's post-season.

The Tigers entered the four game series with a two game lead. After a rain out on Monday, the two teams are meeting in a day-night doubleheader today, followed by single games on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.

While the Twins have been red hot down the stretch, they are still the team the Yankees should want to play in the division series. And the reasons are pretty obvious.

1. The Yankees have dominated the Twins in recent years, including this season, winning all seven games between the two teams.

2. The Twins have no clear cut ace. While they have solid, dependable pitchers, none of them stands out as does the Tigers' Justin Verlander does.

3. The Twins have likely MVP Joe Mauer in their lineup as well as the hot hitting Michael Cuddyer. But there will be no Justin Morneau. Though the Twins scored more runs than the Tigers during the season, the Tigers have a more threatening lineup.

4. While Tigers' closer Fernando Rodney has converted 35 of 36 save opportunities, he's not an intimidating presence. The same can be said for Twins' closer Joe Nathan, whom the Yankees have had success against in previous post-seasons.

5. Some people are concerned about the Twins running game, but Minnesota had only 83 stolen bases entering today's play (the Tigers have 72). Really nothing to worry about.

So there you have it, the main reasons the Yankees should want to play the Twins. The top reason is the top reason for a reason. Okay, that sentence made me dizzy. The bottom line is that the Yankees beat up on the Twins and should want to play them over Detroit.

But what do you think? Take the new poll and let me know.

Gaudin Makes His Post-Season Pitch

Gaudin Makes His Pitch

Written for Baseball Digest Online

The Yankees‘ post-clinch starting lineup last night looked like a spring training road game. A few regulars were mixed in with reserves, and players that won’t be on the post-season roster, as the Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals. After a nearly two hour rain delay, plan ‘B’ lineup or not, the Yankees rolled over the Royals 8-2 as Chad Gaudin made a pitch to help his post-season cause.

The right-hander limited KC to 2 runs and 4 hits through 6 2-3 innings. Over his last four appearances (23 innings), Gaudin has allowed 9 earned runs (3.13 ERA) and struck out 16. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman will now weigh the option of starting either Gaudin or Joba Chamberlain should the Yankees advance beyond the division series. At the very least, Gaudin could play a significant part of the post-season bullpen.

Gaudin wasn’t the only one with a good night. Rookie Ramiro Pena hit his first major league home run and then was greeted by the silent treatment in the Yankees dugout. Jorge Posada broke the silence and Pena’s teammates mobbed him with high fives, head rubs, and well wishes.

Mr. “I don’t hit well with the bases loaded” (or for that matter with men on base), Robinson Cano, broke open a 4-2 game in the 7th with his second career grand slam. It was Cano’s 25th home run, joining Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, and Nick Swisher at that plateau. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cano also became just the third 2nd baseman in the last 70 years (Bret Boone and Alfonso Soriano were the others) to have a 200-hit, 25-HR season. He also became only the 4th Yankees in that same time period to record the feat. Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, and Soriano were the others.

Game Notes

A.J. Burnett will start tonight for the Yankees against Anthony Lerew. Burnett was originally scheduled to start Monday’s game, but was pushed back a day so that he could be home for his father’s triple bypass surgery.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sportsgasm

That is the term coined by the lovely Mrs. MM to describe the overlapping sports seasons. As in, "You're going to have a sportsgasm". With the Yankees heading to the post-season and the Giants off to a 3-0 start in the NFL, she is right as usual. Plus, incredibly, the NHL season opener is just a mere days away.

She first coined the phrase when the Yankees season began and I bounced between the early games and NY Rangers playoff hockey and Boston Celtics playoff basketball.

The sportsgasm is a great feeling, probably the equivalent of a woman eating chocolate. (Unlike women, however, I don't think the sportsgasm is better than sex.) And your partner may not enjoy your sportsgasm with you.

This is NOT Mrs. MM, but it could be during a football or hockey game.

There can be messy clean up with the sportsgasm. Chips, soda, beer, remote controls can often be sent flying in various directions. Actually, the remote control is usually reserved for big, bad moments, such as when the Rangers lost to the Devils in Game 5 of the 1994 conference finals. (Still haven't been able to totally fix that dent on the wall.)

Speaking of remote controls, the sportsgasm cannot be achieved without an excellent working remote control or two. You always need a supply of fresh batteries to be sure you're not stuck on one channel. (God forbid you have to get up and manually change the station.) You also should have a good working knowledge of the "last" and "favorite" buttons on the remote. They are essential in making rapid fire changes from one channel to another.

You should also be familiar with the SAP button, DVR controls, etc... no, not to use them, but how to shut them off if you accidentally hit one of them in the middle of a game.

So there you have it. Enjoy your sports and your sportsgasm. Oh and always practice safety... be sure to use a coaster.

Celebration: The Movie

Some video of yesterday's clubhouse celebration, courtesy of Marc Carig and my hometown paper, the Star-Ledger.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

True Blue

Big props to the NY football Giants tonight. There were many talking heads that kept referring to this afternoon's match up with Tampa Bay as a "trap game". That there would be a tremendous let down after the emotional victory over Dallas last Sunday night, they said.

Obviously, part of these feelings were based on past Giants performances in these situations and just the way the league "flows" in general. It was also stated despite these same talking heads also saying the Bucs could be one of the worst teams in the league.

The latter statement was the one proven true this afternoon as the Giants absolutely destroyed the Buccaneers 24-0. The Giants defense, missing a large chunk of personnel, still managed to hold the Bucs to 86 total yards. That's not a quarter total, that's the entire game.

The Giants meanwhile ran the ball down their Bucs' throat. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 104 yards on just 14 carries. Brandon Jacobs was 26-92 and 1 TD. Eli Manning with an efficient day- 14-24 161 Yds 2 TD 0 Int.

Next week? Yup, another trap game on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Yankees Sweep Their Way to AL East Title

When the Yankees lost eight straight meetings with the Boston Red Sox this season, no one, AND I MEAN NO ONE, thought the Yankees had a chance to win the American League's Eastern Division.

With their 9th win in their last 10 games with their divisional rivals earlier this afternoon, the Yankees did just that. The 4-2 victory over Boston gave the Yankees their first east title since winning the the division on the final day of the season in 2006. No one could be happier than manager Joe Girardi, who has come under much fire for the past two seasons, but today guided the Yankees to their 100th win for the first time since 2004.

Andy Pettitte (14-7) and Mariano Rivera combined to do what they have done so many times before - more than any other starter and closer in major league history - win a baseball game. Pettitte shook off a rough start and allowed two runs over six innings. Brian Bruney had his best outing in six weeks, retiring all five men he faced before turning things over to Phil Coke for the last out in the 8th.

Just like in Saturday's game, things got a little interesting before Rivera picked up his 43rd save. J.D. Drew reached on a 1-out bloop single that Brett Gardner lost in the late emerging Sunday sun. Pinch-hitter Victor Martinez then hit a ball in the hole on the right side that Robinson Cano bobbled for an error. Derek Jeter grimaced as he watched Cano try to make a spin and jump throw for the force instead of getting the easy out at 1st base.

But have no fear, Rivera is here. He got Casey Kotchman to ground out to Cano for the 2nd and did the honors himself for the final out, getting Jacoby Ellsbury on a comebacker. As soon as the ball settled into Mark Teixeira's glove for the putout, the Yankees stormed the field in a big celebration that carried on into the clubhouse.

The Yankees trailed 2-1 through five innings, their only damage coming on a Melky Cabrera home run off Paul Byrd. But in the 6th, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez reached on two out singles to knock the veteran out of the game. Terry Francona sent for Takahashi Saito to face his fellow countrymen Hideki Matsui.

The Yankees caught a break when Saito crossed up Jason Varitek for a wild pitch, putting the tying AND go ahead runs in scoring position. Godzilla then took advantage, lining a single in front of Drew in right to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

Teixeira added some insurance in the 8th with his 38th home run of the season off of hard throwing right-hander Daniel Bard.

Game Notes

Hideki Matsui enjoyed a tremendous season against the Red Sox. Including today's game, he went 21-61 (.344) with 4 HR and 14 RBI. Only his numbers against Toronto surpassed those he put up against Boston.

Victor Martinez' 25-game hitting streak came to end. It's the longest streak by a Venezuelan born player.

Robinson Cano picked up his 200th, becoming the second Yankee 2nd baseman to reach the mark. Snuffy Stirnweiss ('44) and Alfonso Soriano ('02) were the others. Cano and Derek Jeter also became the first double play combo in major league history to record 200 hits in the same season.

The Yankees matched Atlanta with 16 division titles since division play began in 1969.

CC Dominates Sox at Clincher Inches Closer

The Yankees got the big man for one reason and one reason only- to win games. Big games. While yesterday's regular season contest between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox wasn't exactly a huge game, the fact that CC Sabathia pitched seven innings of 1-hit ball was huge. The Yankees won 3-0 after Mariano Rivera made things interesting in the 9th before picking up his 43rd save. The victory moved the Yankees magic number to clinch their first AL East title in three years to just one.

Since August 1, Sabathia is 8-0, 2.24 in his 10 starts. His 19th win yesterday matched his 2007 total when he won the AL Cy Young while a member of the Cleveland Indians. Yesterday he was about as good as it gets. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until Mike Lowell led off the 5th with a single.

He left after 96 pitches, but the Red Sox lineup got no breaks. Phil Hughes pitched the 8th, retiring the side in order before The Sandman entered in the 9th. Rivera retired Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to start the inning, but gave up a single to Victor Martinez and hit Kevin Youkilis. Martinez' hit extended his hitting streak to 25 games. A wild pitch and a couple of defense indifferences put the runners in scoring position, but Rivera struck out Lowell with a nasty cutter that dipped towards the opposite batters' box.

Daisuke Matsuzaka held the Yankees scoreless through 5 innings and escaped a bases loaded, no-out jam in the 5th. Robinson Cano finally broke through with an opposite field home run for a 1-0 lead in the 6th inning.

Speed and Billy Wagner's wildness led to a pair of insurance runs in the Yankees' 8th. Nick Swisher drew a lead off walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Brett Gardner. The Yankees biggest speed threat moved to 2nd base on a wild pitch and then stole 3rd. It was the Yankees 9th stolen base in two games.

Melky Cabrera reached when Wagner drilled him in the left hip with a 95-mph fastball. After Jose Molina failed to get down a safety squeeze, Gardner broke for home when Wagner's pitch skipped away from Martinez. The subsequent run-down resulted in Gardner's safe return to 3rd, when Chris Woodward dropped the ball for error, and Cabrera's advanced to 2nd. After Molina walked to the load bases, Wagner bounced back with a strike out of Derek Jeter for the 2nd out, but Johnny Damon dunked a blopper into right field to score two and extend the Yankees lead to 3-0.

Game Notes

The Yankees have won 8 of 9 from the Red Sox after losing the first 8 contests. A win today would split the 18-game season series. Andy Pettitte goes against Paul Byrd.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor threw out the first pitch.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yankees Draw 1st Blood

Yesterday I pontificated that I thought it was important for the Yankees to make a statement in their final regular season series with the Boston Red Sox. Last night's 9-5 Yankees' win did just that.

It was a satisfying win on many levels. A huge offensive game for Alex Rodriguez. A battering, literally and figuratively of top notch Red Sox starter Jon Lester. 7 stolen bases against catcher Jason Varitek and the Sox pitching staff. And most importantly, an effective start by Joba Chamberlain.

The man for whom the rules were written, went six innings for the first time in a month and a half. He allowed three runs and looked like the aggressive, hard throwing Joba that the Yankees will need in the post-season. He threw 86 pitches and was one out away from allowing just one run, when David Ortiz hit a 2-run home run off of him in the top of the 6th.

But Chamberlain also worked himself out of jams. It was something he hadn't been able to do of late. The Red Sox had 2nd and 3rd with just no out in the 5th inning, but Chamberlain retired Varitek on a foul out, struck out Alex Gonzalez, and got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to Mark Teixeira to retire the side.

Chamberlain's teammates were aggressive at the plate, as well as the basepaths, in giving him an early lead to work with. Derek Jeter singled to start the 1st inning, stole 2nd, and scored on Rodriguez' single. With a man aboard in the 4th, A-Rod hit a long home run into the second deck in left field for a 3-0 lead.

The Yankees then loaded the bases on Lester before Melky Cabrera hit a line drive off the pitcher's right leg. Lester went down in a heap and left the game with a bruised quad. The Yankees continued to pile on the runs and Joe Girardi mixed and matched the bullpen as the Yankees earned their 98th win.

It was a tremendous game for Rodriguez, who finished 3-3 with two walks, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored, and 3 stolen bases. Remarkably, despite missing a chunk of time at the beginning of the season, A-Rod is just seven RBI shy of 100. The home run was his 581st, two shy of Mark McGwire for 8th place on the all-time list.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poll: Did Joba Earn a Post-Season Start?

Joba Chamberlain's performance tonight against Boston will start a new debate as to the possibility of him making a start in the post-season. I think maybe, but what do you think? Take the new poll and let everyone know.

Pump It Up

The Yankees and Red Sox are probably playing down this weekend's 3-game series in the Bronx. The Yankees already have a playoff spot sewn up and it's just a matter of time before the Sox sew up the wild card. There's no real reason for the Red Sox, other than to try to get home field advantage, to bust their behinds to win the AL East. It's an uphill battle as they enter the weekend 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

The Yankees, as I said, are in and most likely have the division title won. But all that being said, this is an important series for both teams. The Yankees turned the corner against the Red Sox when they swept a four game series at home from Aug. 6 - 9. They followed that up by taking 2 of 3 in Fenway from Aug. 21-23. After losing the first eight games of the series, the Yankees are now 6-9 against Boston. There's no question that the Yankees would like to continue their winning ways against the Red Sox. You always want to be in the head of your opponent and after taking 6 of 7, the Yankees have to be in the Red Sox' minds just a little bit right now. May the trend continue this weekend.

This is probably also the last chance for Joba Chamberlain to show something that could earn him a playoff start. Though he will get one more start against either the Royals or Rays, this start is against a playoff team and a very dangerous one at that.

* * *

The Yankees will probably be without Jerry Hairston Jr. this weekend. An MRI of his sore wrist showed tendinitis, so Hairston received his second cortisone shot in two weeks.

David Robertson has been ruled out of this weekend's series by Brian Cashman.

New Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor will throw out the first pitch before Saturday's game.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hunt for Pinstriped October

It's never too soon to start figuring out the Yankees roster for the AL Division Series. Of course 90% is set in stone, health permitting, with just a handful of question marks.

First a look at the most obvious:


Jorge Posada


Around the Horn - Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez


From left to right - Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher


Hideki Matsui


Brett Gardner, Jose Molina, Eric Hinske

Starting Pitchers

CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte


Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Al Aceves


So this is where the questions begin. We've sewn up 20 spots, which leaves five more to be determined.

For the bench, Jerry Hairston Jr. is a given IF he is healthy. And that's a major question after he heard something pop in his wrist yesterday out in Anaheim. If Hairston can't go, that means the much less experienced Ramiro Pena would be the backup infielder.

The Yankees are probably set in the outfield. Gardner will most likely get some starts in the playoffs and hopefully Hinske will never see the field, but be used strictly as a pinch-hitter with pop off the bench. Michael Kay keeps trying to sell us on Joe Girardi taking the speedy Freddy Guzman to be this year's Herb Washington. And we all know how that worked out.

The starting rotation is set for the division series. Beyond that, the Yankees will need a fourth starter if they advance to the ALCS, and subsequently, to the World Series. It's hard to imagine Joba Chamberlain being that guy right now. He's a mess, both pitching-wise and psychologically. Right now, a game four could go to Chad Gaudin. (At this point, Sergio Mitre should not be any part of the mix.)

The bullpen should include Chamberlain if he is not going to start. There's no reason why he couldn't face a couple of batters here or there late in the game. At this point, we would kick Brian Bruney to the curb, and we hope David Robertson will be ready to go. However, if his sore shoulder doesn't allow him to pitch much in the final 10 games, then we would skip him as well.

So, who do I go with for those last five spots?

Hairston, Pena, Chamberlain, Gaudin, Robertson. If Hairston can't go, then Guzman probably is a go. If no Robertson, then I would actually take Jonathan Albaladejo over Bruney.

And the Winner Is...

Me! Very cool...yesterday (and today) Ken Davidoff of Newsday held a contest with the giveaway being a new book"Sixty Feet, Six Inches". It chronicles a conversation between Hall of Fame members Reggie Jackson and Bob Gibson.

I was the first to correctly identify the two feats that the two were known for at the old Tiger Stadium (Reggie's mammoth home run in the '71 All-Star game and Gibson's '68 World Series win). Not only did I win, but Ken gave the blog a plug too. Thanks very much Ken!

Thanks too to Scott Crisp of NBC Dallas-Fort Worth who gave me a mention for my piece on Mark Schlereth this morning.

UPDATE 9/25:

Have to send another thank you out, this time to the boys at Deadspin for a mention on the Schlereth deal.

And Then There was One

Bobby Cox to hang it up after 2010 season.

There are only two managers in baseball today that will give you the old throwback, the classic umpire arguement. Flailing, hat throwing, dirt kicking, full out maniacal meltdown. Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella are those two. And after 2010, there will be only one. (as long as Piniella keeps his job in Chicago.)

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox announced yesterday that 2010 will be his last season managing in the bigs. The one-time Yankees farmhand and coach has been managing in Atlanta for 20 years and has been 28 years managing in the big leagues. All but four of those seasons have been with Atlanta.

Cox currently ranks fourth all-time in wins with 2,409 and his 4,336 games is 5th highest total in major league history. He's skippered one world champion, 14 pennant winners, and 15 division winners (incl. one with Toronto). Cox is the all-time leader in ejections with 132, nearly 35 more than the next manager, Earl Weaver.

The 68-yr old recently signed a one year extension.

Halo at Ya Boy

Yankees Earn Their Wings

Written for Baseball Digest Online

Perhaps the Yankees had a five year plan. It seems that what most successful businesses do. Or perhaps there’s another explanation as to why it took the Yankees five years to win a series in Anaheim. The culmination of the Yankees’ “business plan” came to fruition with a 3-2 Yankees win over the LA Angels Wednesday that was their first series win in So Cal since May, 2004. It wasn’t easy though. With Phil Hughes and Al Aceves unavailable, Joe Girardi had to throw everything against the wall to see what would stick before Mariano Rivera came on for his 42nd save.

The Yankees also had to be encouraged by the second straight good start by A.J. Burnett. Though he lasted just 5 2/3 innings in 95 degree heat, Burnett struck out 11 and limited the Angels lineup to two runs. He ran out of gas in the 6th, allowing an RBI double to Gary Matthews Jr., followed by a walk to Mike Napoli. Girardi sent for Damaso Marte to flip Chone Figgins around to the right side. The dangerous switch-hitter already had three hits, but Marte retired him on a fly to right to preserve the lead.

After that it was all mix and match and keeping one’s fingers crossed. The biggest surprise, to the pitcher himself, was when Girardi called on Ian Kennedy in the 8th. It was Kennedy’s first major league appearance this season after missing most of the year due to surgery for an aneurysm in his shoulder. It wasn’t pretty, butIPK got the job done. He loaded the bases loaded with a pair of walks and a hit batter, but got Erick Aybar on a fly to Melky Cabrera in left to set things up for Rivera.

With a lineup that was missing Alex Rodriguez (rest), Jorge Posada (foul ball off his foot), and Nick Swisher (foul ball off his knee), the Yankees knew they would have to scratch and claw for runs. Mark Teixeira stroked a one out double off Scott Kazmir in the 4th and tried to score two batters later when Shelley Duncan ripped a single to left off the glove of Figgins at third. Despite the fact Teixeira had started to head back to 2nd base, 3rd base coach Rob Thomson waved Teixeira home, hoping to break the scoreless tie. Unfortunately for Thomson, Juan Rivera made a perfect throw to nail Teixeira at the plate.

Hideki Matsui, who had drawn a walk, and Duncan both into scoring position on the play. That’s when the guy you would least expect to deliver in the clutch, did just that. Robinson Cano came into the game barely hitting over .200 with runners in scoring position, but ripped a single to right to plate both runners. WhenNapoli couldn’t handle the throw home, Cano moved to 2nd base. The play would prove important when Melky Cabrera followed with a double to easily score his buddy for a 3-0 Yankees lead.

So perhaps the Yankees finally have some confidence in the home of the Halos. What they definitely have is a six game lead over Boston in the AL East and a six game homestand ahead with the Sox and Kansas City Royals.

Game Notes

The Yankees have Thursday off before starting that 3-game set with the Red Sox. Joe Girardi has shuffled his starting rotation, moving CC Sabathia to Saturday to give him an extra day’s rest. Joba Chamberlain will go Friday night against Jon Lester.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, A.J. Burnett is just the third Yankee pitcher to record double digit strikeouts in less than six innings. Chamberlain did it earlier this season (12 K’s) and David Cone performed the feat in 1998 (11 K’s).

Jerry Hairston Jr. left the game with a wrist injury when he checked his swing in the 7th inning. Hairston hurt a popping sound and will go for tests today.

Stay Away from A-Rod

Just not sure who is telling who that.

Mark Schlereth is Wrong

Former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth was just on ESPN discussing the Justin Tuck-Flozell Adams incident that took place in the Giants-Cowboys game Sunday night.

Schlereth is angry, and I mean angry, that Adams was fined $12,500 for his trip of Tuck that resulted in a shoulder injury to the Giants defensive lineman. (Adams was also fined that much because of another attempted trip later in the game, but Schelereth didn't bring that up.)

Schlereth contends that you have to stop the defender from getting to the QB no matter what. That if he had been fined every time he tried to trip a player, he'd have "played for free". Schlereth actually wants the union to step in to do something about these type of fines.

Has he lost his mind? Or more precisely is Schlereth biased as a former o-lineman, which in turn clouds his judgement? I'll go with the latter, though maybe a little bit of the former is correct too.

I agree, you have to stop the defender from killing your QB. But you do it within the rules, which means you do NOT make a play with intent to injure and that's exactly what Adams did. Tackle the player, hold them, whatever, but you do not perform just a blatantly dirty act to get the job done.

Adams isn't a first time offender. He is the most penalized offensive lineman in the league. Therefore, I stand by my original thought which is that Adams should have been suspended for one game.

You are very wrong Mark Schelereth.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Throw Away Game

With A-Rod needing a rest, Nick Swisher sore after taking a foul ball off of his knee, and Jorge Posada suffering from bruised toes from a foul ball, Joe Girardi has put out a less than stellar Yankees line up for this afternoon's (3:35 p.m. ET) game with the Scott Kazmir and the LA Angels of Anaheim.

SS Jeter
3B Hairston
1B Teixeira
DH Matsui
RF Duncan
2B Cano
LF Cabrera
CF Gardner
C Molina

Hence, "the throw away game". Yankees need a big game out of A.J. Burnett to take 2 of 3 in the series.

A-Rod Saves the Day

A-Rod Sac Fly Allows Yankees to Escape With Win

Written for Baseball Digest Online

Moses parting the Red Sea

Jesus turns water into wine

US hockey beats Russia in the 1980 Winter Olympics

The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim

While that last miracle may not be up to the caliber of the previous ones, the Yankees did indeed finally beat the Angels on their home turf last night, 6-5. Of course the victory wasn’t stress free as the Yankees blew a 5-0 lead before winning it on an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly in the 9th inning. The Yankees also clinched a playoff berth last night when the Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees also increased their lead in the AL East to six games ahead of the Boston Red Sox when the Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals for the second straight night.

The Yankees borrowed from the Angels’ aggressive play book to pull out the triumph. Brett Gardner singled off Matt Palmer and stole 2nd base, his 23rd successful theft in 28 attempts. A walk to Derek Jeter allowed Joe Girardi to play small ball, and it worked effectively when Johnny Damon bunted the runners over. A-Rod, who earlier had his his 580th career homer, hit a fly to center field off lefty Darren Oliver to bring home Gardner with the go ahead run.

Mariano Rivera, whose 36-game consecutive save chance streak ended in Seattle on Friday, walked Kendry Morales to start the 9th. But the Yankees closer then struck out Juan Rivera and Jorge Posada threw out would be base stealer Reggie Willits at 2nd base for a “strike ‘em out/throw ‘em out” double play. Rivera then retired Erick Aybar on a ground out to Robinson Cano for his 41st save.

It appeared that the Yankees might actually be in for cake walk when they jumped out to a 5-0 lead on home runs by Rodriguez, Posada, and Hideki Matsui. Chad Gaudin had relatively breezed through the first four innings in his best performance as a Yankee to date. But in the 5th he surrendered a solo home run to Yankees killer Chone Figgins, and two hits, a walk, and a run later he was out of the game in favor of Al Aceves.

Aceves was on the hill for the first time in eight days and it showed an inning later. Three singles in four at-bats, the last by Gary Matthews Jr., cut the Yankees lead to 5-3. Aceves than walked former teammate Bobby Abreu with the bases loaded to force in a run and Vlad Guerrero appeared to produce the go ahead hit when he ripped a ball down the 3rd base line. But Rodriguez dove to his right, snared the baseball and threw Guerrero out to save two, and possibly three runs.

The Yankees defense saved them in the 6th, but it came back to bite them in the 8th. A Cano error allowed Howie Kendrick to reach 1st base safely and then Jorge Posada threw a one-hopper into center field when Kendrick stole 2nd base. Just like that, the Angels had the tying run on 3rd with nobody out. Hughes retired Figgins on a pop up, but Maecir Izturis singled to right to the game at five apiece.

With the Yankees already 0-5 with runners in scoring position Rodriguez put the Yankees on the board in the 3rd when he followed Mark Teixeira’s single with his 27th home run of the season off of Halos’ starter Ervin Santana. Two batters later, Posada went deep with Hideki Matsui aboard for a 4-0 lead. Then it was Matsui’s turn in the 5th. Godzilla smoked his 28th home run of the season, with the total being evenly split before and after the All-Star break.

Game Notes

Derek Jeter picked up his 200th hit when he singled in the 4th inning. He now has seven 200-hit seasons, one shy of the team record held by, you guessed it, Lou Gehrig.

Alex Rodriguez is now three home runs by Mark McGwire for 8th place on the career home run list.

The Yankees will try to take the series tonight when they send A.J. Burnett to the mound against left-hander Scott Kazmir.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jeter Reaches New Heights

Moments ago Derek Jeter singled off the Angels' Ervin Santana for his 200th hit of the season. It's the 7th time he has accomplished the feat.

Jeter joins the following players to reach 200 hits at age 35 or older.

Eddie Brown, Boston Braves (1926)

Bill Buckner, Boston Red Sox (1985)

Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers (1922, 1924)

Doc Cramer, Boston Red Sox (1940)

Nap Lajoie, Cleveland Indians (1910)

Paul Moliter, Mil Brewers (1991), Tor Blue Jays (1993), Minn Twins (1996)

Lefty O'Doul, Brooklyn Dodgers (1932)

Al Oliver, Montreal Expos (1982)

Sam Rice, Washington Senators (1925, 1926, 1928, 1930)

Pete Rose, Cin Reds (1976, 1977), Phil Phillies (1979)

Tris Speaker, Cleveland Indians (1923)

B.J. Surhoff, Baltimore Orioles (1999)

Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (2009)

Bill Terry, NY Giants (1934, 1935)

Randy Velarde, Oak A's, Ana Angels (1999)

Zack Wheat, Brooklyn Dodgers (1924, 1925)

Swinging Like a Rusty Gate

Dedicated to the Yankees who are already 0-5 with RISP thru 2 innings.

Stadiums in Latest Security Warnings

CBS News is reporting that federal authorities have issued warnings that "sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, and hotels" are the latest proposed targets of interest to terrorists.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department sent two bulletins Monday to police around the country, saying they know of no specific plots against such sites. The bulletins obtained by The Associated Press say those sites remain attractive targets to groups like al-Qaida.

The memos do not mention the ongoing high-profile investigation of a possible terrorist plot involving a Colorado man and associates in New York City. Instead, they describe the long-standing interest of terrorists to use homemade backpack bombs, car bombs, or even airplanes to attack such crowded public places.

The latest developments come on the heels of counterterrorism warnings to mass-transit systems around the nation for heightenened security and vigilance. The warnings were prompted by the investigation into an alleged terrorism plot in New York City, similar to past attacks on London's and Madrid's transit systems.
Click Here to read the full story.

I can feel your halo halo halo

A scene the Yankees have witnessed too many times in Anaheim.

Halos Have Yankees Number Again

Written for Baseball Digest Online

The last day of Summer provided no solace for the Yankees in Anaheim last night. No matter the season, the Yankees just can’t be the Los Angeles Angeles on the left coast. That trend continued last night when the Angels took an early lead against Andy Pettitte en route to a 5-2 win. On the bright side, the Yankees magic number to clinch the AL East was reduced to 8, thanks to the Kansas City Royals win over the Boston Red Sox.

On the even brighter side, Pettitte who missed his last start with shoulder fatigue, allowed 3 runs in an effective six effective innings and felt good afterwards. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Angels’ starter Joe Saunders was even better. The left-hander was 9-7 with a 5.33 ERA when he went on the DL after his August 7th start. But since then he’s gone unbeaten, posting a 5-0 record in six starts, while posting a 2.11 ERA. He came within two outs of throwing a complete game despite having to pitch with a sore patella tendon in his left leg.

The Yankees put two men aboard in the first but Chone Figgins defense helped Saunders escape trouble. With Johnny Damon on 1st, Mark Teixeira hit a bullet down the 3rd base line that was ticketed for extra bases. But Figgins made a diving stop and fired to 2nd base for a would be force out. But 2nd baseman Howie Kendrick dropped the throw allowing both runners to reach. (Somehow the official scorer ruled it a fielder’s choice rather than a hit or error). Saunders picked up his teammate with a swinging strikeout of Alex Rodriguez and then retired Nick Swisher on a lazy fly. After that the Yankees rolled over, except for solo home runs by A-Rod and Hideki Matsui in the 7th and 8th innings.

The Angels jumped right on Pettitte in the home half of the 1st, though it looked like Pettitte would escape unscathed when Jose Molina threw Figgins out attempting to steal 2nd base for the second out of the inning. But Bobby Abreu singled and scored on Vlad Guerrero’s gapper to right-center. Torii Hunter then followed with a double of his own for a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees’ home runs got them back to 2-run deficits each time, but the Yankees pen let the Angels extend their lead in each instance. Kendry Morales hit a pinch-hit solo home run, his 31st (and RBI #99) off of Brian Bruney in the 7th and Jonathan Albaladejo allowed another run in the 8th.

Game Notes

Derek Jeter had a pair of hits in the game to give him 199 on the season. His next hit will give him 7-200 hit seasons.

The Angels reduced their magic number for clinching the AL West to 6 and won their 90th game for the 7th time in 9 seasons.

Francisco Cervelli got quite a thrill before the game when Reggie Jackson introduced him to fellow Hall of Fame member Frank Robinson. Robby currently works for the commissioner’s office.

Chad Gaudin looks to get the Yankees back on the winning track tonight when he goes up against Ervin Santana.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kansas City Here I come

The Yankees owe a big thank you to the KC Royals tonight for reducing their magic number for clinching the AL East to 8.

Tim Wakefield and his bad back couldn't throw strikes (7 BB in 5 IP) and the Royals rallied back from a pair of four run deficits to beat the Red Sox bullpen 12-9.


New football stadium: over $1 billion

Avg Ticket Price at the new Cowboys Stadium: $159.65

Beating Dallas in their first home game and sticking it to the pig faced Jerry Jones:


To the Bat Pole

It was time for the annual rookie hazing...and though there weren't as many rookies on the Yankees squad, it was still entertaining to see this year's Batman and Robin theme.

Batman (Mark Melancon) and Robin (video coordiantor Anthony Flynn). Nice gams and camel toe.Mark Melancon as the Caped Cruisader

Ramiro Pena is an uglier Catwoman than Ertha Kitt, though less creepy.

Radar gun operator Brett Weber (the Joker), Flynn (Robin), manager Joe Girardi, Melancon (Batman), Pena (Catwoman), Michael Dunn (the Riddler), massage therapist Lew Potter (the Penguin)

Melancon walks the gauntlet

Teammates and media get their photo-opMike Dunn as the Riddler wins best in show (IMHO)

Joba: Performances That Go Thud in the Night

M’s Thump Joba and Yanks

The Yankees have plans for Joba Chamberlain, I’m just not sure what they are. I’ve been critical of how Chamberlain has been handled in the second half and my thoughts haven’t changed any. No confidence can be gained from the outings Chamberlain has had since the Yankees started limiting his innings and pitches. And yesterday’s showing against the Seattle Mariners was a complete disaster. Chamberlain got hammered for five runs in the 2nd inning and gave up seven runs total in a three inning stint. The result was a lackluster 7-1 Yankees loss and a lost road series.

The Yankees threatened against Ian Snell (5-2 since joining Seattle) in the 1st inning, putting two runners aboard with no one out. But Snell retired Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui to escape the jam and the Yankees offense flopped like a fish after that. The Yankees would manage just five hits on the day, three of them byTeixeira.

Chamberlain retired the first two hitters of the game, but then gave up back to back doubles to Jose Lopez and Ken Griffey Jr., and an RBI single to Adrian Beltre for a 2-0 M’s lead. Things went from bad to worse an inning later with Griffey punctuating the 5-run outburst with a 3-run home run. It was Griffey’s 16th home run of the season, the same output as his 1989 rookie season, and 627th of his career.

Game Notes

On the bright side, Sergio Mitre tossed five innings of 1-hit ball in relief.

The Yankees begin a three game series tonight with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The AL East lead has been reduced to 5 1/2 games (ahead of Boston), but the magic number is just one to clinch a playoff spot.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Teixeira Continues His Case for MVP

Teixeira Slugs CC to 18th

Written for Baseball Digest

Mark Teixeira knew expectations would be high if he signed to play with the Yankees this past off-season. He had seen players come and go before him- the good (Mike Mussina), the bad (Hideki Irabu), and the ugly (Randy Johnson). He weathered his usual slow start, and his time for coming alive coincided with the return of Alex Rodriguez. The result has been an MVP caliber season that continued last night with a 2-home run, 5 RBI performance in the Yankees crushing 10-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.

The Yankees second best acquisition of this past off-season made their best acquisition, CC Sabathia, the American League's first 18 game winner. The big left-hander, and Cy Young candidate, allowed one unearned run in seven innings of work while allowing just four hits. The Yankees were already up 6-0 when the Mariners got on the board thanks to an Rodriguez throwing error, andTeixeira and company put the pedal to the medal to put the game out of reach.

Teixeira would have had a three home run game if not for the 1st inning effort of Mariners' centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez. With Johnny Damon aboard, Teixeira hit a smash to deep center off starter Doug Fister that a leaping Gutierrez got a glove on as the ball began to go over the fence for a sure home run. Gutierrez couldn't hang on though as he hit the wall and it landed in play for an RBI triple.

Hideki Matsui's 26th home run in the 2nd helped increased New York's advantage to 3-0 as Teixeira came to bat with two aboard in the 5th. This time he pulled the ball down the right field line, just over the 326-ft sign, for his 36th home run of the year and a 6-0 Yankees' lead.

Home run #37 would come after a mere single in the 7th. Teixeira, batting from the right side in the 9th against left-hander Luke French, hit a no doubt about it shot over the 388-ft sign in left-center for his 118th run batted in of the season.

Game Notes

Since the All-Star break, CC Sabathia is 10-1, 2.54 in 13 starts. He's struck out 91 in 92 innings with just 22 walks and 78 hits allowed.

Ian Kennedy
is all the way back from aneurysm surgery and in this case that means back on the major league roster. IPK even surprised himself with is return. He'll get more innings over the next two months in the Arizona Fall League.

Freddy Guzman drove in his first run as a Yankee last night with a 9th inning sacrifice fly.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ichiro Wins Showdown with Mo

Opponent's walk-offs aren't as much fun.

Ichiro Wins Hall of Fame Showdown

Written for Baseball Digest Online

Mariano Rivera blew away the first two Seattle Mariners in the 9th inning last night to reach 1,000 career strikeouts and was well on his way to his 37th consecutive successfully converted save chance and a 2-1 Yankees win.

Ichiro Suzuki would never forget the game after being picked off first base not once, but twice. Then an unfunny thing happened on the way to the post-game high fives for the Yankees. Pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney narrowly missed hitting one out, driving a ball on to the warning track in right for a 2-out double. That set up a showdown between two future Hall ofFamers, Ichiro and Rivera. Moments later it was the Mariners celebrating when Ichiro hit a rare home run for a 3-2 Mariners victory.

The loss somewhat wasted a bounce back effort from A.J. Burnett, who allowed one run and scattered seven hits over seven innings. I say somewhat, because Burnett really needed a good outing for his own confidence as well as his manager’s confidence in him. He still could have picked up a victory had his team taken advantages of opportunities they had against “King” Felix Hernandez (16-5).

Derek Jeter led off the ball game with a single and Johnny Damon followed with a double. But the Yankees came away with only one run on Alex Rodriguez‘ sacrifice fly. Nick Swisher was stranded after a lead off double in the 7th and the Yankees had at least one man on in seven of the nine innings.

The Yankees went ahead in the 7th when Damon doubled for the second time, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on Mark Teixeira’s sac fly.

But despite the one run lead, the Yankees had the ball in the right hands. Rivera hadn’t blown a save since April 24 when Boston’s Jason Bay slugged a 2-run home run off of him up in Fenway Park. He had only been scored upon once in the last two months.

And things seemed normal when Rivera (3-3) struck out John Hannahan looking to give the M’s infielder the “Golden Sombrero” and then blew an inside fastball past a swinging pinch-hitter Mike Carp for the 2nd out.

Mo breathed a sigh relief when Sweeney’s opposite field fly seemed destined to leave the park, but short hopped the wall instead. Then Rivera’s first pitch cutter to Ichiro didn’t move and the M’s right fielder deposited the ball deep into the right field seats for his 10th home run. It was Ichiro’s fourth hit of the game, second walk-off hit of the week and third game winning home run of the season for the Mariners.

Game Notes

The Yankees announced that Sergio Mitre’s turn will be skipped when the Yankees open a series with the Angels on Monday. Chad Gaudin, who pitched effectively against the Blue Jays, will take his turn.

CC Sabathia goes after his 18th win this afternoon (4:10 p.m. ET) when he faces rookie Doug Fister.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The 10 Worst Baseball Movies Ever Made

I won't talk about some ill advised sequels (any "Major League" movie after the original) or straight to video. And I can't include what I haven't seen, but was told was horrible (Mr. 3000 for example).

Here ya go:

The Grand Prize Clunker - Rookie of the Year

Rookie of the Year (1993)

Thomas Ian Nicholas, best known for the "American Pie" movies stars as a 12-yr old who is suddenly blessed with a three digit fastball when he breaks his arm. I haven't really seen much of Nicholas' work, but he was absolutely awful as an overly precocious, obnoxious tweener.

Gary Busey is not believable as a has-been great pitcher (okay, the has-been part is completely believable). Eddie Bracken as the team owner essentially plays the same role he did in "National Lampoon's Vacation". Daniel Stern must have really needed the money as he took on the role of the village idiot, in this case, the pitching coach.

The only good performance was Albert Hall as the Chicago Cubs' manager, who is a combination of Lou Piniella and Norm Crosby.

Cheesy and Predictable from start to finish.

The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

Veteran movie actor, and later the star of TV's "Life of Riley", William Bendix stars as the great Bambino himself, Babe Ruth. Bendix comes off as completely unathletic, not that the Babe was built like a great athlete, in one of the corniest movies ever made.

Two scenes stand out for corn - Prior to the 1932 series with the Chicago Cubs, the Yankees had traded shortstop Mark Koenig to the Cubbies, who mistreated the former Bronx Bomber. The movies depicts Ruth (Bendix) standing outside the Cubs dugout, razzing each of the players as he takes the field.

The worst scene is the penultimate near-death scene as the Babe lays gravely ill in a hospital bed. All the children in the area gather in the street below and start singing, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Take me out to the lobby.

Ed (1996)

Matt LeBlanc stars with a baseball playing chimp. 'nuff said.

The Slugger's Wife (1985)

Michael O'Keefe (Caddyshack) is Darryl Palmer, a slugger for the Atlanta Braves. The movies centers around O'Keefe's relationship with Rebecca DeMornay (Risky Business) as well as his pursuit of Roger Maris' single season home run record.

One look at O'Keefe's swing and you realize he couldn't break a pane of glass. The only amusement comes from cameos by Al Hrabosky as himself and Braves owner Ted Turner as a fan.

This movie will make you want to slug the screen writer(s).

The Babe (1992)

Another movie about the Sultan of Swat. This time starring Roseann's John Goodman in the lead role. I love John Goodman, but I so didn't love this movie. Possibly because they make the Babe very unlikeable.

While I realize his life has been glamorized and not everything is true or portrayed accurately, I could have done without the over the top drunken, womanizing, ill tempered portrayal.

Sandlot (1993)

Blasphemy will be shouted by some, including my brother, but this movie stunk. It's a rip-off of just about every movie ever made - think "Stand by Me" + TV's "The Wonder Years" + the original "Bad News Bears" + "A Christmas Story" and many, many more.

Everything in the movie is predictable - the scary man who isn't scary, the narration talking about the past, the kid who can't really play but will make a big play, and the fat catcher.

Bad News Bears (2005)

You do NOT re-make one of the best movies ever made. The original, the difference being "The" before the rest of title, appealed to any kid whether they were in little league or not. It's a classic.

And while I said I wouldn't talk about movies I didn't see, I refused to see this one. One more reason to not like Billy Bob Thornton.

The Scout (1994)

We like Brendan Fraser, but his portrayal of phenom Steve Nebraska is not believable. We can't stand Albert Brooks, but he was good as scout Al Percolo. Go figure.

Little Big League (1994)

Here we go again with a 12-yr old at the major league level. This time as the team owner and manager after he inherits the Minnesota Twins. Yeah, baseball allowing a 12-yr old manager, okay.

Like Gary Busey, Timothy Busfield is the washed up player who mentors the kid, etc. And the team improves and blah blah..snooooooooooore.

Summer Catch (2001)

Freddie Prinze Jr. as a pitcher...yeah real the Cape Cod League. Jessica Biel does her hottest best to keep the movie going, but this is major league bad. Mild spoiler - Prinze leaves his no-hitter in the 9th to stop Biel from leaving town. What, you couldn't get the last out and then follow her? No one has cell phones? C'mon.

Minors Get Some Majors

Congratulations are in order for the Tampa Yankees (FSL) and Staten Island Yankees (NYPL), aka "Baby Bombers", who both won their respective league championships.

Tampa was tied 2-2 in the Best of Five Florida State League series with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (who came up with that name?). Trent Lare tossed five scoreless innings in the finale to boost the team to a 5-2 win.

David Adams delivered a key 2-run single and the bullpen trio of Hector Noesi, Pat Venditte, and Noel Castillo shut things down.

Ben Watkins got it done when needed most.

The Baby Bombers captured the New York Penn League title for the 5th time, and first since 2006. Pitcher Ben Watkins kept the Yankees within a two run deficit to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers with five innings of 1-hit ball and his teammates rallied. Star player Neil Medchill (who will have off-season wrist surgery) knocked in the winner in the 8th inning and Staten Island went on to a 5-2 win.