Friday, August 31, 2007

Why the M's are up against the wall

As I was driving home from the Stadium last night, I frantically began searching for the Indians radio statio at 7 o'clock. It was around 7:30 that I stumbled across WTAM out of Cleveland and as I got closer to Binghamton the Indians broadcast began to overpower the sounds of the Mills Brothers and Patti Page who were transmitted on a rival 1100 AM station. As I rooted for the Mariners to lose and leave the Yanks in sole possession of the Wild Card I began to contemplate the difficulties that the M's face in September when they must play 2 more games than the Yanks.

So much in the modern era of baseball seems to come down to bullpens and to paraphrase Miss Teen South Carolina, I personally believe that M.L. Baseballers are unable to win because, uhmmm, some people out there in the game don't have relief pitchers and uh, I believe that our, I, pitching like such as uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our pitching over here in the bigs should help the bigs, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.

What I'm trying to say is that I think the Wild Card race is going to come down to whose bullpen can hold the most wins for their team. The starters, both pitching and fielding, are in their routines and won't be as affected by playing every day of the month, but the guys in the bullpen need a couple days off every week or two so they don't get burned out.

Let's begin by saying that a bullpen needs two consecutive days off once every two weeks to stay fresh and productive. The only way to get those days off is either by virtue of a great start by one of your pitchers or a day off. Now, let's say the the odds of any team getting a great starting pitching performance on any given day is 40%. So, the odds of having back-to-back great starts to rest your bullpen is 16%. In contrast, a team with an off day would need either the start preceding or proceeding that day off to fully rest their pen. The odds that one of those two starts would be a great start is 64% or, to put it another way, having an off day makes it four times as likely that your bullpen gets the necessary rest it needs than if you have to play every day.

In my mind, that will be the undoing of the 2007 Mariners. Now to make sure we take care of business against Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Moose gone loose?

When I first saw the headline "Disgruntled Worker Shoots Three in the Bronx" I immediately assumed it was Mussina and that Clemens and Torre were dead.

Section 39 quote of the day:
"Some U.S. Americans don't have access to maps such as South Africa and the Iraq such as."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some Questions

1. Do we need to rethink dumping Farnsworth? Is he making his case to stay?

2. Is Ian Kennedy available for a start or two? He's pitched 140+ innings in the minors this season, I believe. Is that a huge workload at his stage of development or is he good to go?

3. Ain't it beautiful when Pettite and Mo turn back the clock and he goes seven innnings and Mo closes it out in the ninth?

4. I know decent closers are easier to find than top-notch starters. But what's more valuable, Joba as a 1 or 2 starter or Joba two or three years from now as a closer with Mo-like invincibility?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Enough With The Joba Rules Says Section 39

Okay, all this talk about the Joba Rules is getting silly. Michael Kay and Al Leiter had a spat on-air with Leiter saying, hey, they're guidelines and anything can happen depending on where the team is at and Kay acting as if Leiter suggested the Yankees were going to start a dogfighting ring -- no, absolutely not, these are the RULES and no one is ever going to break them.

Torre is now adding to the silliness, telling the NY Daily News in response to the questions about one inning = one day off that "I'm not syaing it won't change; I don't know that. That's for somebody else to tell me. I'm not going to make that suggestion, because I don't know as much about the physical aspect of pitching as [Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi] Contreras does. If they choose to make an adjustment, so be it."

Did you catch that? Torre is acting as if his hands are tied by the pitching coordinator -- a position so lowly, most people couldn't name the guy doing it. Section 39 bleacher fans say that is absurd. He's the manager and any suggestions by anyone else are just that -- suggestions. He may choose to stick to those suggestions, but he makes the final call. And I'm sorry, but if it's the last game of the season and a win takes us to the post-season and Joba pitched the day before, Torre will bring him in if necessary. If he doesn't, he's not doing his job. We're not talking about blowing out a guy's arm and ending his career, we're talking about turning guidelines into commandments and pretending that the manager isn't in charge.

NOTE: Steve B, a Yankee fan with a Sunday package, just asked, if the rule is that he rests a day for evey inning he pitches, does that mean Joba only pitches once every 6 or 7 days?

You can call me Snake

I'm getting excited to do my bizarro-world impression of Kurt Russell as I make my Escape To New York for a couple of games against Boscum. A big thank you to Michael and the Nanny for hooking me up with a seat on Wednesday night and a place to crash. I was hoping that we would have trimmed the deficit to 2 or 3 games by the start of this series, but a repeat of last year's massacre will do the trick.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ian Kennedy Watch is on...,0,1579500.story

Moose better pick it up...soon...or not only will have lost any shot of finding meaningful employment next season, but he'll be rather unceremoniously bumped from the rotation in the midst of a pennant race.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Giambi, Damon Thrilled To Be On The Bench?

Okay, I don't mind when the YES network gives the party line. (I don't watch it enough to care, frankly.) But I can't understand why any reporters would fall for it. On Aug 21, the NY Daily News ran an article about Giambi and Damon time-sharing the DH role. It made it sound as if nothing could make them happier. (I couldn't find it online to link to, unfortunately.) Both of them have "taken the situation in stride," Damon offers up that "we're all being professional players," (that's nice, since he's making $14 mil or so), and Giambi says, "Johnny and I have always been team guys. It helps Joe out because he knows he can come and talk to us about it." Okay, who on a baseball team ISN'T a team guy and they should leave immediately. Torre can come and talk to them about why two aging veterans plagued by injuries and out for days or weeks at a time this season aren't jumping right back into an everyday role? How nice of them. But what really got me is that just two weeks ago, Damon was bitching about Torre not even calling and telling him personally when he wasn't in the lineup (which Torre doesn't even do for Jeter) and saying maybe he should be traded. Fine, he's over it and said it was no big deal the next day. But don't pretend two weeks later everything is hunky-dory. The silliest comment came from Torre: "They know if they're not playing, there's somebody out there who is worthy of playing." Yeah, some young healthy kid playing better than them really puts their minds at ease. Please.

By the way, the article pointed out how great it's working out and how important Giambi is, by noting the team is 8-5 since he came back on Tuesday, August 7. (Now the team is 8-6 of course.) What does that prove? The team was 9-4 in the last 13 games before he came back. They're 8-6 now and they were 10-4 when he was out. Sure those were easier teams, but I'm not the one claiming the team did better with Giambi back. That simply isn't true. I'm not placing the blame squarely on his shoulders, but it was a dumb claim given their record the last 13 or 14 games and personally I think we're a better team without him. I don't care what guys saying, having veterans grumbling while they ride the bench is never good for a team.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Have The Yankees Been Patient?

Not wonderfully so, I'd say. Cashman has protected the arms in the minor leagues for a few years now. But from 2002-2006, the Yankees were still throwing around big bucks to sign big players at the deadlines to compete now. This year, they didn't make any massive move at the trade deadline. But it's not like they were rebuilding and looking towards next season. They believed the minor leaguers that everyone wanted could compete TODAY, right now. And darned if Hughes and Joba and Ramirez aren't making a big difference right now. The Yankees didn't resist pulling the trigger to build towards a strong future. They just refused to give away talent they were planning to call up today. How patient have they been this season? I suppose they didn't fire Cashman or Torre after the first half. But a more active Steinbrenner might have done just that, when you combine their performance with last year's post-season meltdown. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Cashman has done what he's done and not brought in some aging veteran when we've got no room for them. But you gotta laugh at a team being described as patient just because they held off on imploding for a few weeks and didn't trade away pitchers they knew could compete for them right now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Extra Tix Sat and Sun

I've got an extra ticket for Sat and Sun. If you're interested, let me know.

Why I'm Not Booing Sheffield

Because he loves it. It would bother Sheffield a lot more if Yankee fans just completely ignored him and barely paid attention during his at-bats. That said, it was pretty funny when Section 39 in the bleachers chanted "You're a racist!" and "Yankee reject!" But if we're gonna boo, any other suggestions for what to yell?


Some Espn love for the wonderful Ale-R

"Run production is what men like A-Rod are paid for. And if he's outproducing the entire population of living baseball players, past and present, he can probably cash his next few paychecks with a clear conscience. Now if he can just get himself proclaimed an official True Yankee … "

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Onion has Recognized

When the Onion finally recognizes your greatness, you know things have turned around:

Also, Mike mentioned the section 39 blog, so I put "section 39 blog" into google and guess who's awesome blog came up first?

Trivia, Cheese and Hawai'i

Okay, some odds and ends. First, we've had a handful of non-baseball gatherings by the Lightning squad. Jason, Nannette and I met for chicken wings and trivia at Jason's former place of work in Brooklyn. Despite the fact that Jason stood toe to toe with me in trivia the whole night (when my entire career -- indeed my entire life -- is devoted to pop culture), Jason was not happy when I squeaked out a victory on the final question. He wanted to WIN!

Bruce and Pat and I met at S'Mac, a lower east side establishment on 12th street that specializes in macaroni and cheese. It was in fact very, very, very cheesey. I recommend getting the "small/gnosh" portion and don't forget the bread crumbs on top. And for god's sake, stay away from their bottled soda, which is wired with massive amounts of pure cane sugar. I stayed awake till 5 in the morning with visions of elbow macaroni dancing in my head.

Friday night is Hawai'ian Shirt Night in the bleachers per the Section 39 blog. Dress accordingly.

Finally, a sensitive topic. I thought the Yankees were wrong when they decided to sport a black armband all this season after the tragic plane crash that took the life of Cory Lidle last year. It's not that Lidle doesn't deserve this tribute, it just seemed extreme for a player that had just joined the team and that most fans had barely heard of. Half-mast flags when they heard, properly inviting his wife and children to Opening Day where he would be properly honored, this all seemed in proportion and classy. But I worried that wearing a black armband all season was too much, like weeping and wailing at the funeral of an distant uncle you barely knew. What would you do when an iconic Yankee died? Wear a black armband for two seasons?

Now my very fears are met with the passing of Scooter. The players will sport a #10 on their sleeves right above the black armband for Lidle. I hope it doesn't take anything away from Lidle to say that the armband for him makes the tribute to Scooter seem less impressive. Obviously, we don't want to rate every passing Yankee and say this guy deserves a two month salute and that guy's numbers mean he deserves a four month salute and so on. Just use common sense and deceny -- a brand new Yankee like Lidle that we barely knew deserved an appropriate tribute at the time and on Opening Day since the sason was over. Scooter -- a Yankee icon -- deserved the season-long tribute. A sense of proportion, please.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Goodbye To Scooter

Thanks again to Nannette and David for helping Five O'Clock Lightning "scoop" the New York Times and the New York Daily News by posting the news about Phil Rizutto's death before they did.

Perhaps the team was too saddened to put up much of a fight when the Orioles trounced us 12-0. At the beginning of the game, the Bleacher Creatures did the usual rol call, but finaled with "Phil Rizutto! Phil Rizutto!" Nice. Believe me, it was all downhill from there.

Yankee Great Phil Rizzuto Dead At 89

He's gone to the great Money Store in the sky. (Nanette was the first to tell me. The NYTimes and the NY Daily News didn't have it on their website as of this posting, but my old paper the NY Post had a two-line obit and a banner notice on the front page.) What are your favorite memories of Scooter? Personally, I saw those ads for the Money Store growing up and hadn't a clue he was a Yankee -- I couldn't figure out why anyone would take a loan from something as shady as "the Money Store" or why they would trust this guy. Later of course, I grew to love his rambling commentary during games and shout outs for the birthdays of elderly fans. Gotta wear black to the Stadium tonight.

Joba! Joba!

Crazy game tonight. Except for Mo blowing the save, it was a lot of fun. Wang had a so-so outing, settling down after his awful first. And of course when we took the lead right back from them, it was comforting. Everyone's talking about the youth movement and of course on the post below I talked about the massive savings we could have next year by not resigning or trading Abreu, Giambi, and Clemens (and Mussina?). (Plus the A-Rod issue.) Like everyone else, I think a team of All Stars is a recipe for flatness. And I haven't expected the Yankees to win the World Series at any time in the past seven years (icluding '01 when they almost did). But putting chemistry aside, it's just more FUN to cheer for a team filled with veterans, rising stars like Cano and Melky (who the geniuses in the front office had riding the bench at the begnning of the season) and young guys getting a taste of the show, guys like Joba and Hughes and Duncan and Betemit and my boy Phillips. They're likable and easy to root for, just like the Dynasty of the nineties that even our enemies admired.

At the game tonight, fans wen batcrazy when Joba took the mound at Yankee Stadium for the first time. And when he notched his final out with a strike out, the noise was post-season intense. Huge enthusiasm for Duncan too, just like they used to go wacky for Bubba -- not because we think the guy is the second coming but because it's FUN and maybe the kid could hit another home run and let's see how long his streak lasts and darned if Hughes and Joba ain't the real thing. Fun. Home-grown fun at that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Can You Taste It?

Mmmmm, post-season. I like post-season.

But just to annoy people, I've been fantasizing about next year. I won't be upset, so much, if they keep A-Rod. but if he opted out, he would cost us $30 mil. Imagine if A-Rod didn't come back, they didn't take the option on Abreu ($16 mil) (I don't think he gets along with Melky -- neither does Matsui so much either but he's never gonna let it interfere), Jason Giambi got traded because he was sick of riding the bench and lots of teams would take a cheater who can pound them out of the park at $20 mil for one year, obviously we wouldn't bring back Clemens. You had Damon for one year platooning with a kid from the minors in right. (Take your pick.) Our only hole would be at third base and our payroll would be $66 million less than it would be otherwise, mostly by getting rid of people who have no everyday role and that we don't need. How awesome would it be to be the best team, one of the youngest and be smart enough NOT to have to have the biggest payroll in baseball? (Get rid of the injury prone Damon and you're looking at $80+ mil in savings -- more than most teams. I'm assuming Mussina will be gone so won't count that as a savings) and a group of mostly home grown guys that include Jeter, Posada (who needs some kid to mentor), Pettitte (?), Rivera, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain, Wong, Cano, Melky, Matsui, Phillips, with Duncan maybe on the bench along with some other savvy pickups of vets who can role play. I'm all tingly.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Clothes for Justin

Here's an interesting anecdote about my son, shopping patterns in North Jersey, and why I hate the Red Sox.

Like many of the good wives of Yankee fans in October of 2004, Janet did her part to divert my attention from the postseason that never should have existed. Subsequently, we then began expecting the arrival of a future Yankee fan in July of 2005.

Justin's due date of July 8th came and passed. A week passed and we started getting nervous. The Yanks and Sox were locked into another battle for AL supremecy and began a 4 game series in Fenway on Thursday the 14th. On Friday night we tuned in to watch rookie Tim Redding take on old man David Wells. It was ugly from the start with the Sox scoring 3 in the first and 5 in the second on their way to a 17-1 drubbing. It was literally enough to send a pregnant woman into labor.

Upon arriving to the hospital we found that this scenario was not uncommon in North Jersey as a bumper crop of young Yankee fans were brought into the world that fateful weekend. Rooms were so scarce that after the c-section to deliver Justin, Janet was placed in a supply closet/office for recovery. When the office needed to be used in the morning she was moved to a larger room in which two other ladies were in the process of giving birth! Thankfully the Yankees took 3 out of 4 that weekend and effectively closed the door on the Sox. I thought that was the end of this nightmarish scenario which the Red Sox hoisted upon the Yankee Universe.

However, in a particularly evil twist, I have come to realize that the events of October 2004 did not end at the hospital in the summer of 2005. Each season, as we attempt to buy new clothes for Justin back in Jersey, there is one size which is ALWAYS short on supply. The spike in births due to the most painful October in memory has made it nearly impossible to clothe my son in anything other than cheap, Wal-Mart rags. It is a realization which only increases my bitterness with time and that is why I hate the Red Sox with every fiber of my being.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Scott Boras Is Right

It doesn't happen often, so I might as well speak up when he is. I definitely agree Boras is the devil and doesn't really have the best interests of his clients at heart. All he sees is a paycheck, not what team can get to the post-season, what manager will be a good fit with my player, what town would he want to live in -- nope, it's all about the biggest possible paycheck and who cares if it means going to Texas and crippling the team so your guy (a-Rod) is miserable and out of the spotlight and losing out on endorsement deals because no one sees him playing every day in a major market. I also definitely have less respect for any player who chooses Boras as an agent.

Anyway, Boras said A-Rod's home run totals have been consistent since the day he arrived in the majors so A-Rod should not have the cloud of steroids hanging over him. I agree. His totals blipped up in Texas -- which is designed for righties -- and blipped down again at Yankee Stadium. But he does not have any season or era in which his nunbers just exploded the way say Barry Bonds did in his late 30s no less! My friend Jason tried to tell me I should have to consider whether Jeter also juiced since Jeter is so massive today compared to the scrawny kid he was in the beginning. Well, 18 years old isn't 32. And most every ballplayer is a huge workout nut. But there seems to be a big difference between big and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade big like Giambi and Bonds. Jason gets to see the players up close in the locker room, which gives him a better perspective.

But let me be clear. ANY player who cheated and used steroids would automatically be off my list of favorite players and that includes Jeter. And Andy Petitte who worked out with Clemens and mimicked his workout routine just like Sheffield did with Bonds. Petitte is my greatest fear at this point since I believe Clemens might very well have juiced too. And that would break my heart. But no excuses for anyone, even my favorites.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Match Game FOL

Kudos to Cashman for stockpiling pitching prospects in the farm system. I think we're all extremely excited to see how each prospect turns out at the big league level. That leads me right into Match Game FOL:

Match the current group of pitching prospects to their 1993-94 counterpart:

Yankees of Tomorrow:
Joba Chamberlain
Tyler Clippard
Matt DeSalvo
Sean Henn
Phil Hughes
Jeff Karstens
Ian Kennedy
Ross Ohlendorf
Darrell Rasner
Humberto Sanchez
Chase Wright

Yankees of Tomorrow (circa 93-94):
Matt Dunbar
Dave Eiland
Sterling Hitchcock
Mark Hutton
Domingo Jean
Scott Kamieniecki
Sam Militello
Bobby Munoz
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Brien Taylor

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Joba, Giambi IN -- Cairo, Bruney OUT

So Joba replaces Bruney and the bullpen has officially become a game of musical chairs. I'm not sure why they decided to get rid of him instead of that 34 year old they just called up from AAA...

I feel bad for Cairo, but the writing was on the wall when they traded for Betemit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in pinstripes someday as a base coach or guest instructor at Spring Training.

Let the Joba Era begin!

The A-Rod Chronicles

At this rate we might need to change the name of this blog to that...

I'm going to be honest. Alex Rodriguez, at the end of the season, should opt out of his contract to go play for a team that will appreciate his talents (as long as they are a contender of course). And when he does, I'm going to blame ungrateful Yankee fans who are going to realize how myopic they've been.

For whatever reason, the guy just can't win over New Yorkers, and its gotten to the point where I'm ashamed of any Yankee fan that hasn't warmed up to him. The guy plays harder than anyone, he's on course for his 2nd MVP in 4 seasons, he's playing Gold Glove defense at a position that he never played before, and all he does is try to say and do the right thing all the time (with varying degrees of success). Yet for some reason Yankee fans seem to think HE owes THEM something. Why? So he's not perfect...big deal. Who is?

I can understand the media fixation with trashing ARod. It's easy to pile on and no one ever gets sick of picking on ARod. Most of those guys are hacks anyway. But I'll never understand why Yankee fans don't appreciate this guy for showing up every single game and giving it his all.

He's won over his teammates. He's won over his coaches. If he does stay, besides for the obvious ($$), it'll be because of those two factors and the unparalleled tradition that the Yankees offer. But if not, I can't blame him. Bottom line...A-Rod deserves better. Yankee fans have 2 or 3 more months to realize that.

A-Rod Doesn't Care What Yankee Fans Do

Okay, I was nice as can be for A-Rod's moment of personal glory. But the gloves are off again. We all remember that during the opt-out talk, A-Rod said it was all up to the fans and how they treated him. If they booed him and made him feel unloved, he'd take the hint and opt out. But now that the fans have embraced A-Rod's stellar season (even by his standards), he's whistling a different tune. Asked if the standing ovations and much-love showered down on him meant it would be more likely he wouldn't opt out, A-Rod suddenly announced those were two different things.

"What's happened here is great. You're not human if you don't say it feels good to get appreciated. I think all of us who play this game want to be appreciated. But at the end of the year, it's two different things."

So if the fans boo, it matters and if they cheer it doesn't matter? One more thing, A-Rod was simply asked if he would simply be MORE LIKELY to not opt-out. That's all. How hard is it to say, yeah, the fans have been great and it's a lot more fun when they cheer instead of boo. A season of adulation won't influence him IN THE LEAST? Boo to that.

POSTSCRIPT: The Yankees were complete dicks to the fan who caught A-Rod's 500th home run. They immediately whisked him away and pressured him to give up the ball for some signed jerseys. They tried to get the guy to start negotiating with their lawyer! How obnoxious. If the guy wasn't that bright, he might have been bullied into giving away $100,000 for an autographed bat. That's just vile when they know the ball is worth $50,000 to $100,000) or more to try and place some lucky schmuck into a situation where they can coerce him into doing something so contrary to his best interests. No class. I'd feel bad that I couldn't just give the ball to A-Rod but what can you do? I'd apologize and say, let's have a sports memorabilia expert from Christie's or Sotheby's give an estimate and if you want to pay in that range, I'd let you have it. That's as fair as you can be in this situation.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Yanks drop Myers

A bit of a head scratcher if you ask me. Which one of the following relievers would you think is most vulnerable:

A: 3-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 40 IP
B: 0-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29 IP
C: 2-1, 3.40 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 42 IP
D: 8-2, 3.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 57 IP
E: 0-1, 4.87 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 44 IP

Obviously Choice E is the one that SHOULD go. Unfortunately he's also the highest paid of the bunch. In case you're wondering, they are as follows:

A: Myers, B: Villone, C: Bruney, D: Vizcaino, E: Farnsworth

Apparently the problem with Myers was that lefties were hitting .301 off of him...but what about the fact that righties were hitting just .184???

The obvious replacements for Myers would be 1. Sean Henn (since he's a lefty) and 2. Joba Chamberlain (since he's frickin awesome). But no -- they go with a 34 year old journeyman instead.

Not sure that I agree with this one...but at least they released Colter "Butter" Bean.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Joba update

1st relief appearance: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 K's
2nd relief appearance: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 K's

So he's faced 10 batters and struck out 8 of them. Could this be a rehash of when the Angels brought up an unknown K-Rod late in the season and he blew everyone away as they won it all?

Giambi's relative value

I was going to type this as a response to an earlier comment but it ended up being too long. Here goes:

In a normal season, Giambi is clearly a better hitter than Posada. More power, better on base percentage, and generally better average. And if anything, he might be a step faster. For some reason Jorge is having a career year at a very old age (for a catcher), but let's ignore that for a moment.

So by your logic, do you think the team would be better off with someone like Jason Kendall behind the plate who can run and bunt and go first to third, or would you rather have Posada who gets on base 10% more often, hits homers and doubles, and drives runners in -- but grounds into a lot of double plays and can't always score from 2nd on a single?

The name of the game is to NOT make an out since you get so few opportunities, and Giambi does that better than anyone. And if he's playing DH -- who is he really taking at bats away from? Damon? Duncan? He's clearly a better hitter than them, and I think he's makes the lineup stronger without a doubt. The caveat being "if he's healthy." He's definitely the kind of guy who can't hit a lick unless his body feels right -- but that's up to Torre/Cashman to decide.

As for the Yanks winning without Giambi and during ARod's slump, I believe its naive to think there is any correlation. They've been on a tear because they've been playing crappy teams that can't pitch, and our own pitching has been better than it was early in the season. When they start playing Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, and Anaheim again is when you need guys like ARod and Giambi playing well for the offense to put some runs on the board. Shelley Duncan is not going to hit 5 homers in 22 at bats against Beckett, Dice-K, Gagne, and Paps.

So in summary, I guess we'll agree to disagree on the value of both ARod and Giambi to the team's overall success.

But you know what we can all agree on? That Kyle Farnsworth should not pitch in another game. That guy is TERRIBLE -- and he's turning into a clubhouse cancer. They need to get rid of him, even if it costs them $$$$.

Dear Diary: I Hit Number 500!!!!!!!

(from the secret online diary of A-Rod)

Dear Diary,

Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I would write even more exclamation points, but you get the idea.) I am so RELIEVED. I'm happy, too, but omigosh I thought it would never come. I finally hit number 500. On Wednesday, the crowd sort of muttered when I didn't come through for the fans (I was trying SO hard to hit a home run) and I thought, "Oh my God, are they going to boo me for NOT hitting a home run? That is so unFAIR! But the fans were really really understanding, even if those flashbulbs were pretty annoying. (I'm sorry, but don't they know flashbulbs are pointless in a big open space like Yankee Stadium. Though when I watched the game on my Tivo, I have to admit it looked really cool. I wonder if I could get one of those images done up like a poster?)

If I left Yankee Stadium without hitting a home run, I just know people would say I was being selfish or not thinking of the fans or something. As if! I really really wanted to hit a home run at Yankee Stadium. I mean, who wouldn't? I thought it was going to happen Friday night. It was just about to rain and the skies were darkening (is that a word?) and lightning had been shattering the night for about ten minutes and DJ hit into a double play but of COURSE the second baseman rushed the throw and Derek got to first and the ball sailed over the first baseman's head and everyone applauded as if DJ did something great when really it was just an error. How does he always manage to turn something bad into something good like that? But anyway, it was the bottom of the 8th and I came to the plate because DJ got lucky or really to be fair he hustled really hard and made that happen I guess.

So I came to the plate one more time when the inning should have been over and the wind was swirling and the lightning was striking and it was like a movie (man, I would love to be in a movie, like one of those action films or a romantic comedy) and I just knew, I just KNEW it was going to happen. And then I was so bummed because it didn't. DJ didn't say anything to me afterwards like "That was too bad" or anything but I can never tell if he didn't say something on purpose or not. Because if I say something like "too bad" if he didn't get a hit he just sort of doesn't understand why I'm saying it. I mean, he understands but it's like it's already in the past and he isn't even thinking about it anymore and he's just focused on what's next but if I don't get a hit or mess up I can't stop thinking about it the rest of the day and it just bothers me so much and I think about it over and over and over and over and try to visualize myself doing that play or hitting that ball into the gap and I don't think DJ ever visualizes even though I explained it to him and how useful it is and he just said, "That's cool if it helps you." I don't think he even tried it once.

After the game, I made a joke about "The Natural" and how I was looking for my Wonder Bat and all the reporters really laughed and it seemed to go over well, which really relieved me because I was so disappointed about not hitting it out. I mean, gosh, I was on a 0-22 slump (even though it was really 0-21 because one of those at-bats was a make-up at bat for a game from earlier in the season so it really shouldn't count in that slump but man, I'm not supposed to go 21 at-bats without getting a hit.)

And today I finally did it. (AND it was when we needed a hit even though I guess it doesn't count as clutch in the first inning. Whatever.) Boy, I was so relieved I couldn't stop smiling and I pumped my fists in the air but then I was worried people would think I was showing off too much. But I just couldn't help it!! I am the youngest player to ever reach 500 home runs. I know McGwire and Babe Ruth did it in a lot fewer games, but why should I be penalized for starting younger? And I reached home and everyone was applauding me and it was really fun. I thought maybe they were going to stop the game and have a little ceremony or something but then they didn't and I was really glad because it shouldn't interfere with the game. DJ totally high-fived me and back in the dugout he was smiling and laughing and he rubbed my head and he seemed really happy for me. I can never figure him out. I mean, is he really happy for me? I wanted to ask him if he wanted to go out and grab a bite to celebrate after the game because it would have been fun and maybe we could be pals again, you know, not like super best friends but at least FRIENDLY. But what if I asked him and he said he couldn't make it because of some other plans? I wouldn't know if he really had other plans or just didn't want to hang out with me on like the biggest day of my life practically (except for the birth of my daughter because it's true but even if it's not true you have to say it or people think you're a dick) and whether he wanted to hang out or not if I asked him and he said no it would totally ruin the day for me and I'd have to remember that forever so I didn't ask him and of course he didn't ask me if I wanted to go out and celebrate so we didn't.

After the game I called myself goofy and did a really good job with the reporters except I messed up when I said, "You wish you could pay each fan back by shaking their hands but all I could do is hit a home run and win a game." That was so stupid. I know I didn't win the game all by myself. I should have said that I was so happy I hit it at home for the fans and that the most important thing was that the home run helped THE TEAM win a game and winning games was more important than anything because that's the only statistic that matters. I totally practiced that and then I blew it by saying I won the game which is never the case even if you hit a walk off home run (which I've done, by the way) because there are nine guys on the team. Or really 25 or 40 or whatever the roster is right now and then there's Joe Torre and the coaches and the home office and Mr. Steinbrenner and oh my God I think too much but you know what I mean. Or what I meant, I mean. I'm doing it again :)

I'm sorry Diary, this is a really really long entry but you only get to hit 500 once. I promise to be quicker in the future.

Your friend,


Three Cheers For A-Rod!

I spent a long time giving A-Rod slack. But something snapped after three years of watching him play and I just think he and I would be happier if A-Rod played elsewhere. (I think the team would be stronger as a team, too.) But I don't want to be churlish about it. The guy is having a massive season and deserves full credit for building up incredible personal stats that will obviously take him to the Hall of Fame. So huzaah for A-Rod.

He did it on a muggy, humid, HOT day at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees setting up free water coolers where they handed out little cups of iced water to endless lines of Yankee fans. The concession stands were virtually empty because it was too darn hot to eat anything. The roar when A-Rod hit the ball into the left field stands was as loud as I've heard the Stadium all season. I actually spent an entire half inning underground to get out of the sun for a while (missing my boy Andy Phillips being brought into the game) just to get a break. Poor Andy. As Betimet hit and hit and hit, I couldn't help imagining he was thinking, "Boy, I better get used to sitting on the bench again."

Finally, in looking at the coverage, the NY Post said, "Now that he's off the schneid...." Huh? I got the idea, but where the heck did that phrase come from? The Word Detective says "off the schneid" is short for "schneider." Being on the schneider means being on a scoreless losing streak. It began in gin, when you can keep your opponent from scoring any points. And it ORIGINALLY came from German (or Yiddish) where it means tailor, as in someone who cuts out material. So there.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Roster Moves

With Hughes being activated from the 60-day DL today, the Yanks will have to (a) remove someone from the 25 man roster and (b) remove that same player, or a different player, from their 40 man roster.

Any guesses as to who that might be? My guess is Karstens or Henn gets sent back to AAA, and one of the fringe guys on the 40 man roster is removed (like Bronson Sardinha or something).

The more difficult decision will come on Monday when Giambi is activated from the 15-day DL. It pains me to say it, but I think the odd man out has to be Miguel Cairo. The trade for Betemit makes him expendable, even though he's done an admirable job filling in wherever needed for a long time. Giambi should then join a rotation with Phillips, Damon, Abreu, Matsui, Melky, and Duncan where 2 of those players will have to sit each day. This should keep everyone fresh and give the team its strongest bench since the Cecil/Strawberry/Chili days.

Which leaves two questions. (1) If Joba Chamberlain is called up soon, as expected -- who goes? Probably whoever doesn't get sent down today between Karstens or Henn. Of course someone else will then need to be removed from the 40 man (Kevin Reese?).

And (2) What do they do if/when Mientciewicz comes back? Phillips and Duncan are the two most obvious choices to get sent down just in terms of stature, but both are clearly superior hitters -- and Phillips MORE than holds his own defensively. If I'm Cashman, I wait until the last possible minute to make sure no one else gets hurt, and then I release Dougie. He's just not a major league hitter, and his defense doesn't make up for his lack of offense. I could also see the Yanks waiting until September to activate him since the rosters will expand at that point.

September callups should include Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, Tyler Clippard, whoever gets sent down this week (Henn/Karstens?), and Igawa (give him a look in the 'pen). Please though --- no more Colter Bean.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yanks down 8-0 in the 2nd

I blame Betemit. If Jeter was playing he wouldn't have allowed this meltdown to occur.

Bunt, A-Rod, Bunt!

It started as a joke, but now I'm serious. The White Sox third baseman stands at the edge of the outfield when A-Rod comes to bat. A-Rod is clearly flailing away and has barely reached base in his last 20+ at bats. A bunt would be very fun, he'd get on base, people would laugh and enjoy the moment and it's the right baseball thing to do. A bunt is the perfect antidote for an uptight player in this situation. He could josh with the media, saying, 'Hey, a home run will come. My job is to get on base and help us win games.' Heck, last night he came up to bat with a runner on first. The way the White Sox were positioned, he should have moved the guy over and probably would have reached safely on even a weak bunt. So what if we were leading 7-1? As A-Rod said after the game about his 0-21 slump:
"You can't really sweat it too much," he said. "You've got to get back to playing little baseball and not try to think about 500."
You know aother word for little baseball? Bunt! If you haven't been able to get even a single for a while, bunting is a great idea. For the love of God, A-Rod, bunt and give yourself a rest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dear Diary

(From the secret diary of A-Rod)

Dear Diary,

Omigosh! Why does this always happen to me? I hate when people make a big deal out of these personal milestones. But no matter how often I talk about the team and all that matters is winning games, all anyone wants to talk about is the 500th homer. The crowd was really, really wonderful last night. When I took my first at-bat, there were so many flashbulbs I could barely see! I'll bet DJ never saw that many flashbulbs before. And it was a Tuesday night! Do you think so many people came because they wanted to see me make history? I really think the fans have embraced me this season. Golly, all I had to do was average 1 rbi per game to make them happy :) At least those pop-ups aren't so dangerous right now. But what a night. I swear I thought every single player was going to get a home run EXCEPT me. How embarrassing would that have been? The guys were really nice about it -- especially my boys Cano and Melky -- and I had to laugh at the end. That Shelley kid seems to get a home run every at bat and I'm going 0 for 16. Are they going to keep giving him curtain calls? I looked at Jeter during Shelley's quick hat tip and he seemed pleased for the kid, but I was in the batter's box so I didn't have a really good view. I don't know what Joe was doing having me sit for the rest of the game. Didn't he know all those people came to see me hit one out? I was really sad I let them down. I gave away my bat to some kid in the stands. I never want to use that piece of wood again. Then when I was leaving I think I saw that kid getting the bat DJ! Wow, no matter how hard you try they figure out a way to make you look stupid.

Bye for now,