"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: June 2003

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ENCORE Roger Clemens didn’t

ENCORE

Roger Clemens didn’t suffer a letdown after recording his 300th victory last Friday, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning last night at The Stadium vs. Tampa Bay. Forget about the fact that this was the D-Rays, Clemens was downright nasty. He was matched, however, by Victor Zambrano. Clemens allowed one hit in eight innings of work, while Zambrano allowed two. Clemens pounded the Ray with his fastball and his splitter, while Zambrano vexed the Bombers with his sinker. Both pitchers left with the game still scoreless and then it was up to the bullpens. Both pens were excellent and this has to be one of the best-pitched games of the season.

The Yanks won the game, 1-0 when Alfonso Soriano singled with the bases loaded with one out in the 12th inning. Sori hit a pitch that was about two feet outside and maybe a foot off the ground. It is the same pitch we are used to watching him wave at all the time, but Soriano inexplicably poked the pitch, like a back hand return in tennis, up the middle to end the game. Just when you want to curse him out for swinging at that kind of trash, he turns water into wine. Go figure. He’s not a freak for nothing.

Before the game, Joe Torre addressed the comments he made to Fox TV. John Harper has a good write-up on Torre in the News today:

…The beauty of Torre in pinstripes [is]: He says what he thinks, and he doesn’t manage scared.

From the day he arrived as Yankee manager, Torre carried himself with a relaxed sense of security that can’t be faked, a security that comes with being an NL MVP as a player, and a man who knows he could command a high price as a broadcaster, if necessary.

So maybe he didn’t have a specific message in mind for Steinbrenner yesterday, but with his answers he surely offered a reminder to his players that he’s as much his own man as ever, the same guy who managed the Yankees to four world championships.

That may have been important to him, since Torre said in the dugout yesterday that his players had been asking him if he was okay, apparently alarmed by newspaper stories over the weekend full of speculation about being fired.

“My goal is to insulate them from those type of distractions,” Torre said. “I wasn’t successful this time.”

JUAN MORE CHANCE The

JUAN MORE CHANCE

The Blue Jays didn’t waste much time scooping up former-Yank Juan Acevedo. Acevedo came into spring training geared up to prove the Tigers and every other team in the majors wrong for over-looking him:

And as much as he tried to play it down, you could tell proving the Yankees wrong is high on his list.

“I think it was quick,” he said of his release, “but I’m not crying over it. I know we’ll face them again and I’ll try to prove them wrong. But first and foremost I have to get my mechanics back to where they were in April and spring training. Based on today’s (side session), I’m confident I’m on my way.”

It’s fun that Juan will stay in the division and will most likely pitch in some meaningful games against the Yankees later this season.

A LITTLE RESPECT PLEASE

A LITTLE RESPECT PLEASE

Is the pressure finally getting to Joe Torre? Don’t be so sure, but Torre voiced his displeasure with the way things have gone down in Fort George this year in a Fox television interview that will be aired today:

“At times I’d like [him to] just give me a little more credit that I know what I’m doing.”

“Conversations happen all the time,” the manager said. “Over the 7

TIT FOR TAT The

TIT FOR TAT

The Yanks rebounded in the night cap last night, and pounded the Rays, 10-2. Boomer Wells pitched his third complete game of the year, and Jason Giambi had three hits. Giambi is starting to look like his old devastating self; he now has 18 HR, and 50 RBI. The Red Sox beat Chicago last night, and the Yanks are now a half a game up on Boston.

Jeff Weaver faced the press after the game, and was his usual grumpy self. I like Weaver, and I hope he can get his head together because he’s a talented pitcher, but as Vic Ziegel notes, he’s starting to look too much like Andy Hawkins, Eddie Lee Whitson, and Kenny ‘the gambler’ Rogers.

STILL NUMBER ONE

The night after the dazzling performance by Dontrelle Willis, three Mets pitchers combined to face the minimum 27 batters last night, hurling a one-hitter against the Marlins. It is the third consecutive one-hiter the Metropolitans have been involved in.

How ’bout that?

BOW DOWN TO A PLAYER THAT’S GREATER THAN YOU

The good folks over at ESPN ran a series of articles on the incomperable Albert Pujols yesterday. Don’t miss the glowing reviews from Rob Neyer and Alan Schwartz.

Meanwhile, former Yankee Tino Martinez is hearing the boo birds in St. Louie as his performance continues to decline.

NOT FOR NUTHIN

Not only does Godzilla Matsui have the biggest head in recent Yankee history, but he’s got the longest earlobes I’ve ever seen.

MISERY LOVES COMPANY Not

MISERY LOVES COMPANY

Not to be outdone by Jeff Weaver, Sterling Hitchcock is getting torched in relief today, and the D-Rays are stomping the Yanks, 11-1. The Bombers still only have one hit. Is Rick Down still here? Considering the fact that this is Tampa Bay, you’d think George would can him before Kate Smith finishes singing “God Bless America,” let alone the second game.

Nertz.

At least Boomer has a chance to even the score tonight.

OH NERTZ Jeff Weaver

OH NERTZ

Jeff Weaver is hardly making things easier on himself. He’s getting battered around by the D-Rays in the Bronx right now. The Yanks trail 5-1 in the 5th. They have one hit—a first inning solo homer by Jason Giambi. Other than that, they’ve got bubkus.

WHATCHU TALKIN BOUT WILLIS?

WHATCHU TALKIN BOUT WILLIS?

I caught the last couple of innings of the Mets-Marlins game and was able to finally catch a glimpse of the much-talked-about Dontrelle Willis. So, what’s not to like? The announcers kept comparing him to Vida Blue because a) they both have a high leg kick, and b) they both made big impressions at a young age. Plus, they both have really cool names. The kid has all it takes it be a media darling, let’s just hope he doesn’t get a swell head.

Willis doesn’t only have a high leg kick, he has a little Fernando/Luis Tiant twist in there too, and he slings the ball sidearm. Not only that, but dude hit the corners and threw strikes. Yikes. Oh yeah, he 1-hit the Mets, and out-pitched Tom Glavine in the Marlins 1-0 win:

“I don’t want to give him any credit, but he deserved it,” Floyd said. He added that Willis’s deceptive delivery often threw off his timing. “The second time up, I tried to open up my stance so I could see the ball a little better,” Floyd said. “Nothing worked. He is all arms and legs, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

…”It felt like we were back in high school,” [Jason] Phillips said. “You know, you see the crosstown lefty who throws from every conceivable angle. I didn’t know who he was before the game started. I sure do now. He may have looked like some guy from high school, but his ball was moving in and out, and he kept it down.”

At 6’4, Willis is a bundle of nervous energy. He was emotive and loose. Let’s hope the Marlins don’t run him into the ground.

In related news, it turns out Mike Piazza may return this season after all.

BRRRR STICK ‘EM, HA-HA-HA STICK ‘EM

Bill Madden is reporting that the Yankees will sign Stick Michael to a six-year extension worth close to $4 million:

Michael, who has served in numerous capacities in the Yankee organization for Steinbrenner since his playing days as a shortstop with the club from 1969-74, became general manager for the second time when Steinbrenner was under suspension by baseball in the early 1990s.

It was during his second tenure that, with the Yankees at their lowest ebb, Michael engineered a series of deals that led to the franchise’s resurgence. Among them were the signings of free agents Jimmy Key, Mike Stanley and Mike Gallego and the linchpin trade with the Reds of Roberto Kelly for Paul O’Neill.

TUFF ENUFF?

The Yankees play their next 17 games against the likes of the D-Rays, Mets, and Orioles. This should give us a good idea of how the season will shape up. Will they fall back into mediocrity, or will they seize the opportunity and go on a run? Their competition has nothing to lose and will undoubtedly play the Bombers hard, the question is, how sharp will the Yankees play?

Bernie Williams took 20 swings from each side of the plate yesterday, and Nick Johnson will have an MRI bone-scan this Friday.

The Yankees now lead the Red Sox by a full game (and the Blue Jays by two) after the Boston bullpen blew a lead for Pedro Martinez last night in Chicago. Pedro pitched five innings.

DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS

The New York Yankees Report, a comprehensive blog devoted to the Yanks, has an impressive and thorough analysis of Rocket Clemens’ career. Well worth perusing.

BRONX JEERS I guess

BRONX JEERS

I guess I can get over my guilt by association regarding how tacky Yankee fans can be. Loyal Bronx Banter reader Adam was at Clemens game on Friday night and reports:

We were sitting amongst a bunch of Cardinals fans who had first gone to Boston and then came here. We were talking about the difference between a Boston and New York crowd, and I took pride in being informed that “Red Sox fans were easily the biggest assholes ever.” These were all people in thier late forties and fifties, with families, and obvious baseball fans and they said everyone they spoke to in Fenway was rude. They also couldn’t get over the fact that there were at a Boston vs. St Louis game, and all anyone chanted was “Yankees suck!” In comparison they were impressed with how nice everyone at the stadium (NY that is) was to them. And they felt the tribute we gave Roger was one of the greatest things they had ever seen.
I mention the above because I read your comments this morning, and while I can’t stand the idiot factor present at all games, I think it’s not as bad as it is compared to most places. The only place where things took a turn for the worst was in the tunnels leaving the stadium. Just as I was mentioning how the Cards fans we had spoken to noticed the BoSox obsession with the Yankees, and how Yankee fans weren’t that bad, some red-faced moron comes charging through chanting “Red Sox Suck!” Oh well.

The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner. Adam adds:

The same Cardinals fans that I wrote about earlier dropped this gem: “I kept hearing how bad Jeter was in the field, but man, he really is that bad.” After watching a grounder go through for a single. The fan continued “That wasn’t an easy play, but he wasn’t even close.”
At the end of the season someone should add up how many ground ball singles up the middle that Yankees pitchers give up. Then, just maybe, Soriano and Jeter will stop treating the area around second base as if it were infected with SARS.

POLL RESULTS ARE IN

POLL RESULTS ARE IN

When I asked the question, “Which Yankee would you most like to eat dinner with” last week I knew I should have not included the coaches, but I did anyway. Don Zimmer was the big winner, followed by Torre, Willie Randolph, Mel Stotlemyre and even Boss George. As for the players, Jeter got a vote, and so did Mariano, Ventura, and Giambi. Personally, I like the fantasy of going out to eat with Bernie, cause he’s my favorite Yankee, but in reality I think that Ventura, or even Todd Zeile are probably the nicest guys. They could probably hold a good conversation as well. Rivera might be cool too.

Here are a few of the responses I got:

“Sushi with Soriano and Matsui (anyone else play or coach in Japan?? bring ‘em along).”

“Being a quick eater, I guess I’d choose Rick Down because it would be to go…”

“Willie Randolph- Has seen it all or at least a lot of it. A lot of history and he was there for some crazy times.

Alternate- Mariano Rivera.

Not current Team-

Oscar Gamble
Jay Johnstone
Joe Pepitone”

Amen to Oscar Gamble. What about Claudell Washington while we’re at it?

TIDBITS Before I forget,

TIDBITS

Before I forget, Joel Sherman had a column on Sunday which delineated the potential problems the Yankees will face over the next several seasons.

Also, Jack Curry, wrote the Baseball Notes section in yesterday’s Times. This is usually Murray Chass’ domain, and although I don’t normally care for Curry, I thought he did a good job, especially the piece on the Toronto Blue Jays.

And how about that Nomar Garciappara? Dude has 12 triples this season. 12?! Mercy.

BACK IN BUSINESS The

BACK IN BUSINESS

The weather finally broke in New York this weekend, and so may have the Yankees slumping ways, as they swept the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.

Let’s start on Friday night. I had time to go home changed my clothes, and grab some dinner before heading back out to the game. I live about 70 blocks north and several miles west of Yankee Stadium. It takes about 30-40 minutes for me to get there via subway, but I have to take three different trains. It was gray and rainning lightly and I prepared for a long, soggy night.

I met several groupings of Cardinals fans on the subway and they were all eager and upbeat. For many of them, it was their visit to The Stadium, and I welcomed them accordingly. I warned them not to take any taunting too seriously, and apologized in advance for any drunken louts they may encounter.

I was surprised at how much congestion there was getting into the park. It was like a playoff game, and I enjoyed catching glimpses of conversations as we all huddled together like cattle, waiting to get inside. At one point I got close to two older gentlemen—a tall one with a crisp-looking Cubs hat, and his partner, who was a dead-ringer for Carl Reiner. They had been to two of the three games in Boston, and were going to attend two games in New York over the weekend. Ron, was a Cubs fan, and Dick was a Cards fan. We finally made it inside, and as it turned out, they had tickets way up in the upper tier, just like me. (I was in row U, for Utica.)

I had a great time chatting with my baseball elders as we schlepped upstate New York to our seats. The good thing about sitting in row U is that we were covered from the rain, and considering that it came down steadily all night, it was a beautiful thing. The place was sold out though there were a couple of thousand no-shows because of the weather; lots of red shirts in the house.

The first order of business was Clemens notching his 4,000th strike out. Rocket didn’t waste much time, striking out the side in the first. The after giving up a solo home run to Jim Edmonds and a double to Scott Rolen, Clemens faced Edgar Renteria while ex-Yank Tino Martinez waited on deck. It was a strange moment. There was a huge part of the crowd that was at the game to give Tino a welcome-home ovation. What if he faced Clemens as the potential 4,000th strikeout? That would have been bizzare. Fortunately, it didn’t come to pass. With the flashbulbs flickering throughout the Stadium with each two-strike pitch, the crowd was on their feet, and Clemens struck out Renteria to become the third pitcher in history to reach 4,000 K’s.

Then Tino geeked. Before the Yankees could flash Rocket’s milestone on the scoreboard, Martinez was at the plate ready to go. It’s understandable that he was nervous and that he wanted to get the moment over as quickly as possible, but Tino inadvertantly stepped on Rocket’s applause. He should have waited on deck for a moment, or 30 seconds, allowed Clemens his due, and then walked to plate to get his. Instead, the Rocket’s ovation morphed into cheers for Tino himself. It was awkward, but the fans didn’t seem to mind. Clemens struck out Martinez.

It was a good, close game, and the Yanks held a 3-2 lead in the middle innings, thanks to homers by Ruben Ruben and Godzilla Matsui. Clemens got through the sixth, one-two-three which was huge, because his pitch count was starting to get high. Rocket got the first two men out in the 7th, and had thrown 120 pitches, when Joe Torre came to get him. Before Torre reached the mound, Chris Hammond was jogging in from left field and the crowd started to boo intensely. Cries of outrage could be heard all around us, but it seemed like the right move from where I was sitting. This wasn’t Acevedo in the sixth in Chicago. Miguel Cairo, the last batter Clemens would face, fouled off several pitches, and with a one-run lead, I thought the Yankees were better off with the Bugs Bunny slow pitch against the likes of JD Drew, Pujols and Edmonds.

Clemens received a standing ovation as he left the field and Torre was booed loudly again. I wonder if he’s ever been booed like that at Yankee Stadium? Cardinals fans must have been scratching their heads. So this is what they talk about when they talk about New York fans. JD Drew reached on a bunt, and Pujols muscled a single through the right side before Edmonds weakly grounded out to Soriano.

Raul Mondesi added a two-run home run, and when Mariano came on in the ninth, the Yankees were in the drivers seat. Rivera shut the Cards down in order, and Clemens finally had his 300th win. Rocket came back out on the field, and got the royal treatment for the fans. His boys scampered to the mound and collected some dirt. All of the Cardinals fans I saw were standing clapping.

Unfortunately, the game ended on a sour note for me. Leaving the Stadium was even worse than getting in. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way down, and it took at least 25 mintues to get out of there. Pedestrian traffic is a nightmare for a New Yorker, and between all of the out-of-towners and suburban Yankee fans, it was an ugly scene. Too many drunks, too close together.

Of course, we filed out hearing the usual chants: “Cardinals suck, Cardinals suck.” Now I know that even when the Sox are in town, most of these seemingly mean-spirited taunts are meant in good fun. But I just can’t get with it. Why chant that somebody sucks? Why not say, “We’re great!” instead? Anyhow, it’s par for the course, and groups of drunken Yankee fans jumped all over any wearing Cardinals gear. The lowest was, “Cardinals take it up the ass, do-dah, do-dah.” It’s bad enough that this kind of thing goes, on but when you can’t escape these mooks, there is an edge, a mob-like intensity to the scene which makes for a particularly uncomfortable experience.

I was so unimpressed.

Not only that, I was personally embarrased to be a Yankee fan. And this is how we act when the Yanks win. Can you imagine if we had lost? (I can only imagine how ugly it got by Sunday afternoon.) I was also ashamed as a New Yorker, but you know what? Although there are plenty of obnoxious Yankee fans from New York, most of the morons are distinctly suburban—dudes from Long Island, Jersey and Westchester.

I felt so badly about it, that when I finally made it to the subway, I apologized to the first St. Louis fan I could find. The kid I spoke with didn’t seem to think the abuse was all that bad, or at least nothing that wasn’t expected, so perhaps I’m just sensitive to that kind of thing. Still, Yankee fans could learn a thing or three from Cardinals fans about class and respect, that’s for sure.

It was still sloppy in New York on Saturday, and the game was delayed for over an hour in the first inning, just long enough for the Yanks to run Cards ace Matt Morris from the game. Jason Giambi hit two homers and so did Tino Martinez, as the Yanks bombed St. Louis 13-4 on the Fox game of the week. Joe Torre didn’t get to bask in the glow of Rocket’s big win as the tabliod machine kept rolling.

According to Lee Sinins:

According to the Newark Star Ledger, “George Steinbrenner recently told some associates he’s seriously considering firing Joe Torre because of the Yankees’ uneven play and for what the owner claimed to view as belligerent behavior on the part of his manager.

“According to multiple Yankees executives, Steinbrenner told confidants that Torre has been refusing to return his phone calls or participate in organizational strategy sessions for weeks and that he suspects Torre is intentionally creating the opposite impression — that it is Steinbrenner who is ignoring and excluding him — as a way of making him look bad publicly.

“Steinbrenner has also told confidants he believes Torre is behaving this way so the owner will fire him and he can collect the more than $7 million remaining on his contract, which expires after next season. That possibility is complicating Steinbrenner’s decision-making. Steinbrenner told at least one associate that he would prefer that Torre resign and forfeit the money, but that he doesn’t believe it will happen soon enough for his desires.”

I’m still convinced that if the Yankees win the World Series, Torre is going to say he’s done enough and will step down and if they don’t, he’s going to be fired.

The Times reported:

“I don’t think our relationship has changed one bit,” Torre said. “Comfortable, I have never been, because I think that’s something you reserve for your time out of the game and not working anymore. I’m secure, that’s a better word. I don’t feel any less secure than I did before. You deal with what you have to deal with, but you know that you’re constantly on the hot seat.”

The hot seat cooled down just a little bit on Sunday as the Yanks completed the three-game sweep beating Woody Williams and St. Louis, 5-2. Mike Mussina pitched eight strong innings, Woody Williams walked six, and Robin Ventura and Hideki Matsui led the Yankees offense.

The ninth inning gave Yankee fans some confidence that they still root for a formidable team. Mariano Rivera came on to face the great Albert Pujols, and plunked the Cardinals young star on the first pitch. It was an inside heater that got away from Rivera, and it knicked Pujols’ uniform. Not the worst thing that could happen in that situation, especially with Tino Martinez on deck. Martinez swung at Rivera’s first offering and weakly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Jim Edmonds pinch hit next, and hit the first pitch to second, where Alfonso Soriano made a nifty play to end the game.

To their credit, the Yankees defense actually made some nice plays on Sunday (Matsui deftly tracked down a fly ball in the 7th). Jeter makes routine plays look harder than they are, but when the Yankees defense is helping the pitching out, things are good in the Bronx.

And not for nothing, but it’s always good to beat up on a team managed by Tony LaRussa. I still remember how arrogant his Oakland teams were in the early ’90s and how they used to stick it to the Yankees. The Cards have a likable team, but I don’t have any sympathy for their skipper.

The Red Sox kept pace with the Yanks, sweeping the Astros in Boston. More exciting games for Red Sox Nation, as their bullpen stepped it up big time yesterday and rookie Freddy Sanchez dazzled Fenway with the leather on Saturday.

It should be interesting to see if the Yankees can continue to build some momentum over the next few weeks as their schedule gets considerably lighter.

BRONX BANTER POLL Here

BRONX BANTER POLL

Here is something dopey to think about. Jay Jaffe and I were mulling it over a few weeks back.

If you could go out to dinner with any member of the current Yankee team (coaches included), who would it be?

Send your answers to me at alexbelth@aol.com.

Inquiring minds want to know. (Like me.)

WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN?

WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN?

The rain is finally coming down here in New York, and if they get the game in tonight, it could be a long, sloppy affair. My friend Mindy got me a ticket for the game on the count of Tino Martinez is returning to the Stadium for the first time and all. I always liked Tino fine, but I didn’t pine after him like many Yankee fans did. I don’t know whether he’ll play or not, but I assume if he can walk, LaRussa will let him DH, so he can get his cheers. I will certainly give him a big hand when he’s introduced, and then I’ll root for Roger to strike him out each time he comes to bat. Even if Clemens doesn’t get his 300th victory tonight, he should notch strikeout # 4,000.

I wonder who will hurt the Yankees more? Drew or Edmonds. (Answer: Albert.)

I’ll be sure and give you my take on the game, but it may have to wait until Monday. In the meantime, check out some of the great work happening out there in the blogging universe:

Mike C has another meticulously researched article on his site. This one deals with the history of the strike zone.

Jay Jaffe has a characteristically solid write up of the Yankees-Astros series over at Futility Infielder.

And don’t forget to drop in on the latest installment of the C & C Baseball Factory over at The Cub Reporter.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

AAAHHH Ah, me of

AAAHHH

Ah, me of little faith. Shows you what I know. The Yankees rallied for runs in the seventh and eighth innings yesterday and nipped the Astros 6-5. It was the first time they came from behind when trailing after six innings. They took the series from Houston and are back in first place after the Red Sox lost a crusher in Boston last night (another wild one). As bad as the no-hitter was for the Yanks, they did win the series. Meanwhile, the Red Sox lost two agonizing games vs. St. Louis. Which just goes to show you, it could always be worse.

I hope Ed Cossette got some sleep. (Ed has a link to an excellent interview with Bill James today…don’t snooze, youse.)

Speaking of the Nation, here is a terrific piece from a blog called Red Sox Nation on the nature of Boston fans. I couldn’t find the perma-link, so scroll down to the article titled:

A little polemic in honor of the Sox/Cards series

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

It should be required reading.

The fellas over at Red Bird Nation, have wonderful coverage of the Sox-Cards series too. Be sure to check in with them over the weekend for their take on the Cards visit to the Bronx.

Say what you like about the Yankees; they are rarely dull. They may not be the same team that won 4 championships in 6 years, but they still are the biggest show in town. Ask the Reds or the Cubs if they’ll remember their games against the Yankees. Same goes for the Astros. Even though they lost the series, do you think they’ll foget the no-hitter anytime soon? (Not including Jeff Kent.)

George Steinbrenner visited with manager Joe Torre before the game, and apparently Joe did most of the venting. According to Bill Madden:

“You wonder what you could have done, what you could do or what you have not done,” Torre said in reference not just to the Wednesday night no-hit debacle but the general Yankees malaise that was most characterized by the 0-24 record in games in which they trailed after seven innings before yesterday. “You feel responsible. It’s my job to prepare these guys and when something is as ugly as (Wednesday night) you’re wondering what your missing.”

Then, reiterating his anger over the performance the night before – the most anger he’s ever had in baseball – Torre said: “It was not the no-hitter I was angry about. I didn’t like the process. I care about these guys and I want them to play hard. It’s a blow to your ego that goes beyond losing.”

…”There’s nothing George can say to me that could make me feel any worse than I felt. I’m probably tougher on myself than George could ever be.”

Jack Curry reports in The Times:

Joe Torre called himself the caretaker of the Yankees after the darkest and bleakest game they have played for him, a warm, gentle way to describe what he does as the manager…It was an interesting and revealing word for Torre to hang on himself. He was in the midst of verbally annihilating his sluggish team for being no-hit by the Houston Astros on Wednesday night when he slipped it in to stress that he has also performed poorly. The caretaker has been praised when the Yankees have rumbled down the highway without braking, so he must be chastised when they stall.

…”It’s more than just a job to me,” Torre said. “It’s always been. I think if it was just a job, I would have been tired of it a long time ago.”

It is clear that Torre is searching for answers. Todd Zeile conceded:

“We better find out here in the short term who we are…It’s important for us to start putting some of these wins together, because it helps our confidence.

“That’s one thing I’ve noticed that’s been different from the Yankee teams I remember facing. In the last six or seven years, no matter what, there was a confidence, almost an arrogance, when they walked on the field. I think we have to sort of earn that.”

You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie, friend.

Godzilla Matsui had two more hits yesterday (he also had a mental lapse in the field that lead to a run in the first inning). He’s starting to come around a bit. Matsui is expertly profiled by Aaron Gleeman over at Baseball Primer.

HERE WE GO AGAIN…

HERE WE GO AGAIN…

The Yanks trail the Astros by the score of 5-4 after six full in the Bronx. The Yanks are 0-21 this year when they are behind after six innings. Do you feel lucky? I don’t, but what the hell: Let’s Go Yan-kees!

Remember how Bronx Banter reader Adam said it couldn’t get any worse than last night? He amended that statement when he saw who was batting clean-up today for New York.

It still hasn’t rained. I have tickets to tomorrow night’s game. Looks like the rain will wait until we jam the Stadium to watch Roger tomorrow night.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM Lee

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

Lee Sinins is reporting that the Mets have called a 4 pm press conference. They haven’t announced why, but it looks as if Steve Phillips will finally get kicked to the curb.

Meanwhile, after 4 innings the Yanks have a 3-2 lead on the Astros.

You know it occured to me that for all the ranting and raving I’ve done about the Yankees offense last night, the Astros do deserve a good deal of credit for their accomplishment. They are no zhlubs, and that is one Grade A bullpen they’ve got.

HOW LOW CAN YOU

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?

Here is an e-mail I got today from Adam, a Yankee fan who saw the Yanks get no-hit in person:

I was at the game last night – it was even worst in person. Besides Posada swinging 3-0, and the obvious no-hitter, here are some other things that helped cause a sleepless night.
1. Other than Soriano’s sinking liner and a fly out to the warning track by Giambi, there wasn’t really anything close to a hit by the Yankees all night. The Yankees are flailing, and usually missing, at everything. Four strike outs in one inning, seven in a row at one point, thirteen for the game.

2. Jeter looked completely overmatched. He struck out three times, and, while it’s tough not to look bad while doing that, he looked like a rookie flailing away in his first at bat. Twelve strike outs in nineteen at bats, me thinks Mr. Jeter needs to do some help.

3. Soriano forgetting to cover first on the bunt. This is simply inexcusable, I’m not sure if this is a result of poor coaching or Sori’s spaciness, either way it was painful to watch.

4. Weaver stinks. He got booed and rightly so. He wasn’t fooling anyone on Houston, every hit was hard and usually in the gap.

5. More bouncers up the middle. It’s amazing how many singles up the middle the Yankees give up because neither Jeter nor Soriano can get to them.

6. Al Reyes – meet Acevedo Part Duex.

7. Pinch hitting Bubba Trammel for Ventura. Nothing like taking a guy who hasn’t played in about a month and asking him to break up a no-hitter.

8. Todd Zeile. Maybe it’s me but it seems like he’s in the hole 0-2 as soon as he steps in the batters box.

9. Juan Rivera is completely overmatched.
This is as low as it gets, I hope.

I hate to sound like a downer, but I think it get definitely get lower. Fortunately, it can also get a heck of a lot better too. Adam sent me another e-mail (which I inadvertantly erased) and added two more gaffes—Jeter’s throwing error, and the you-got-I-got-it-nobody-got-it dropped-fly ball between Juan Rivera and Hideki Matsui.
Here is another note regarding the game. According to Lee Sinins in his ATM report today:

None of the 6 pitchers the Astros used gave up a hit.

It was the first time the Astros didn’t give up a hit since Darryl Kile, on September 8, 1993.

It was the first time the Yankees didn’t get a hit since Melido Perez did it on July 12, 1990. It’s been inaccurately reported everywhere that the
last time was by Hoyt Wilhelm, on September 20, 1958. However, although the game only lasted 6 innings, let’s look at that game. Perez pitched all of the innings. He got credit for a complete game, he got credit for a shutout. He also didn’t get any hits added to his season total. If that’s not a no hitter, then no game in baseball history could qualify a no hitter.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Replacement Level Yankee Blog for an hilarious and insightful take on the Bronx Zoo.

BERNIE, MY DEAR

With his first full lenth album set to drop in a couple of weeks, Bernie Williams has just signed a deal with Paul McCartney’s company MPL Communications. McCartney’s company will market Bernie’s music for commericals and movies and anything else they can think of.

JOE BLASTS BOMBERS There

JOE BLASTS BOMBERS

There have been rumblings for over a month now that what these Yankees need is some tough love from their manager Joe Torre.

Yesterday, Joel Sherman wrote:

Torre has come under greater scrutiny – and not just by Steinbrenner.

If nothing else, this season is exemplifying just how much quality players and a self-policing clubhouse could elevate a manager. No knock on Torre, whose serene demeanor and dignity ideally uplifted the Yankee roster for years. But it sure is easier to push the right buttons when nearly every button offers a good option, and when the clubhouse core motivates and regulates itself.

Torre may still be right, that his reassuring manner will evoke the most from a talented team again. However, this group looks often like it needs a kick, not a hug.

Well, Yankee fans, the media, and even George got their wish, as Torre lit into his hapless team after being no-hit by six, count em, six Houston pitchers:

“Whatever kind of history it was, it was terrible,” he said sharply. “It was one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved in. I have no explanation. Usually I do, but I can’t find a reason for what happened. The whole game stunk.”

…”We didn’t play baseball,” Torre said harshly. “I don’t know what we were playing.”

Today Joel Sherman opined:

This 8-0 Houston humiliation even left the perpetually find-the-positive Joe Torre totally negative. He lambasted his team beyond closed doors, perhaps in the strongest way of his tenure, and called this the worst effort of his Yankee stint. He normally does not pin out players publicly, but said Jorge Posada missed a take sign when he grounded out with a 3-0 count and the bases loaded in the third, ending the Yanks’ one offensive glimmer. And he finally acknowledged that at least on this night his mentally adrift team was mentally adrift.

In describing this as “a total, inexcusable performance,” Torre’s anger seemed directed as much to his Boss as his 25 players. George Steinbrenner has wanted his manager sterner. You have to wonder if Torre’s fury will be enough now to satiate Steinbrenner. Especially since Torre had said he liked the team’s tenor in the last week, which meant the manager was either blind-sided last night or simply does not know his club anymore.

Mike Lupica added:

The door to the Yankee clubhouse stayed closed a long time. It turns out there had been a team meeting. When someone asked Torre who had spoken, he raised a hand like a kid in class. “Just me,” he said.

He would be asked later if he was hot addressing his team.

“I’m unhappy,” Torre said. “Whatever hot is.”

“I can’t find a reason for what happened tonight,” Torre said.

“It was a total, inexcusable performance,” he said.

“We can’t hide from this, or use any excuses,” Torre said. “We’re all responsible, starting with me.”

…He talked about Jorge Posada missing a sign and swinging at a 3-0 pitch.

“We weren’t thinking well tonight,” Torre said. “Once things started snowballing, we lost our composure.”

…Torre talked until he was talked out. His phone kept ringing. He ignored it. He was asked about the owner and said, “There’s really nothing he could tell me now – or do – that would make this worse than it is.”

It is fitting that the Yanks were no-hit. Considering how they’ve been playing it should not come as a surprise, as Rob Neyer noted in his column today. Neyer tells it like it is, especially regarding the declining play of Derek Jeter:

Jeter’s production has been falling steadily since 1999, when he might have deserved the MVP Award (which went to Ivan Rodriguez instead).

It’s tempting to assume that Jeter’s not fully recovered form his shoulder separation, and that he’ll start hitting either this season or, at worst, next season after he’s had a winter to recover.

Maybe. But the best evidence suggests that the power he showed in 1999 was something of a fluke, and also that his 2002 numbers were the rule rather than the exception. And if that’s the case, the Yankees’ fortunes this season could have a real impact on Jeter’s image. To this point, a lot of people don’t have any idea that Jeter has gone from being a truly great player to a merely good one, because he still has that postseason glow about him. But if Jeter finishes this season with another sub-.800 OPS and the Yankees don’t play in October, then what kind of case will his defenders make?

“Chemistry” is a great argument when you’re winning … but when the winning ends, you have to fall back on the actual performance. And when the performance looks like this, it’s pretty hard to justify $16.5 million.

Steve Keane asked me what was worse, the Yankees getting no-hit or Posada swinging 3-0 with the bases loaded. I think Posada swinging 3-0 felt worse to me, especially when I learned that he missed a sign. Posada may be the best hitting catcher in the game, but for someone who blasted his teammates after the Yanks lost to the Angels in the playoffs last year, for a guy who is a veteran of championship teams, Posada plays with his head in his ass more often than not.

The Yanks can save some face this afternoon if they come away with a victory, but the damage has been done. The wheels are in motion in George’s universe and the fallout is going to be dramatic. After weeks of cool weather and rain, it is suddenly hot and humid like August in New York. It’s like soup out there and it still hasn’t rained. The game today will probably get washed out. Either way, Hurricaine George is on it’s way. Right on the heels of Joe Torre’s rainstorm.

Yankee-haters rejoice!

GULP Billy Wagner is

GULP

Billy Wagner is on to pitch the ninth, the Astros sixth pitcher. Posada leads off. The count evens at 2-2, and Posada, batting from the right hand side, fouls a fastball off. Another fastball in on the hands, fouled off to right side. And another fastball, outside, fouled off. Fastball on the outside corner, swung on and missed, strike three. The Astros have struck out seven Yankees in a row.

The Yankees haven’t been no-hit since Hoyt Wilhelm did it to ‘em September 20 1958. It is the longest streak in history.

Bubba Trammell is up to pinch hit. Lucky him. Curveball called strike. Slider, swung on and missed, 0-2. Fastball, 102 mph just outside, 1-2. Slider, grounded foul. Fastball outside, swung on and missed. Eight in a row.

Here comes Godzilla. The fans are standing and chanting. The sound system plays “Get Back,” and Matsui swings at the first pitch and grounds weakly to Jeff Bagwell at first, who flips to Wagner for the out.

No hitter! Wow. Six pitchers=1 no hitter. Now, there is something you don’t see…ever.

It’s hot and muggy in New York. The weather man said we’d get thundershowers tonight. It hasn’t rained yet, but in Yankee land it’s about to pour.

GOING DOWN? After eight

GOING DOWN?

After eight innings, the Yankees are being no-hit by the Astros. You knew it was going to be a tough night with Roy Oswalt going, but the ace of the Houston staff left in the 2nd, and five pitchers have combined to no-hit the Yanks. Octavio Dotel struck out the side, plus one in the 8th. Soriano reached first on a swinging strike three that went for a wild pitch, so Dotel struck out Jeter and Giambi to end the inning.

The Astros are leading 6-0. Oh dip, make that 8-0. Jeff Weaver wasn’t great, and the Yankees kicked the ball all over the field once again. Jeter made a throwing error. Oh, and my pre-series question was answered. Berkman hit a homer in the upper deck before hitting one in the bleachers (he still has time to do that too). He also made a good diving catch to rob Soriano in the following inning.

Early in the game, Jorge Posada was up with the bases loaded. He got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and grounded out to first. Boy, was that ever the sign of bad things to come.

If the Yanks actually get no-hit, you can bet hitting coach Rick Down will be the first coaching casualty of the year.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver