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Monthly Archives: August 2003

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Another night, another f-ugly win for the Yanks. Tell George Vecsey I ain’t complaining. Jeff Weaver wasn’t awful, but he was far from impressive. Weaver received a decidedly mixed reception when Joe Torre took him out of the game, but I think there were more cheers than jeers.

Weaver’s counterpart, Jose Lima, was his usual animated self. He couldn’t spot his fastball, and his change up could only take him so far. The Yankees blasted him, and were able to hold off K.C. for a 11-6 win. It’s hard not to be taken with the Royals. Not only do they refuse to die easily, but they maintain their sense of humor whether they are winning or losing.

Carlos Beltran killed the Yanks and looked like the star we know him to be. Raul Ibanez was the hard luck player of the game, hitting two long foul balls that narrowly missed being homers (in the 4th and 6th innings). Nick Johnson had three hits for the Yanks; Jorge Posada and Karim Garcia added home runs.

There were a couple of freeze-frame moments during the game that caught my atttention. You know those slow-motion, suspended-in-air flashes where time suddenly halts; the kind that the highlight shows love.

In the third, Derek Jeter hit a shot to deep right-center field. Carlos Beltran was there in plenty of time, but he jumped too early and the ball glanced off his glove. In mid-air, Beltran braced himself to hit the wall. But it didn’t come as quickly as he anticipated, and he just floated for a moment, stuck in time, until THUD, he smacked up against it.

In the following inning, Bernie Williams raced home trying to score from second. But his slide came up short, and instead of sliding through the plate, it was as if he was sliding into third. Bernie’s lead foot (the left one) stopped just shy of the plate, and as his body straighten, the force of his momentum carried him off his feet entirely and he tumbled over the plate and the catcher. It looked like a startled cat, leaping out a tub. But once Bernie was in the air, time stopped again, and all Bernie could do was enjoy the ride and pray that he would land all right.

The Yankees survived another dubious night of pitching, and everything was all right in the Bronx. The Sox had the night off. New York’s lead is now 5 1/2 games.


Jeff Weaver starts against Jose Lima tonight at the Stadium. This one could get ugly early. I hope Lima pulls some of his high school Charlie horseshit, just to piss the Yankees off. Then, hopefully, Jason Giambi will plant a couple in the upper deck.


Mike Mussina gave the Yankees just what the doctor ordered: a three-hit, complete-game shut-out. Mussina had his entire portfolio of pitches working, and dominated his former team as the Yanks pounded Baltimore, 8-0. (By the way, Sunday was Jorge Posada’s 32nd birthday, and not Saturday night, as I had originally reported.)

Earlier in the day, the Bombers designated Todd Zeile for assingment.

The Yankees win, coupled with the Red Sox 3-1 loss to the Mariners (who says Freddie’s dead?), puts New York five games ahead of Boston, six in the loss column. (It is the largest lead of the year for the Yanks.) Boy, does Rafael Soriano have a live arm or what? He could effectively do what K-Rod did for the Angels last year. The Sox went 3-4 in Oakland and Seattle. Dan Shaughnessy says the Sox potent offense needs to regain its form in order for Boston to keep up with the Yanks.

For one day, there was nothing to fret about, although according to George Vecsey in The Times, that won’t last long. (I stand guilty as charged.)

The Bombers are back in New York tonight for a three-game series against the Royals.


I have a few moments to myself this morning, and I’ve been enjoying Sean Foreman’s indispensable Baseball Newsstand. How did we ever live without it? I love cruising around, and checking out papers from all around the country for Sunday baseball articles.

Here are some links that I thought I’d pass along:

1. Joe Torre’s critics must have been circling like sharks last night after he forgot to protest the O’s batting out of order in the first last night. (Larry Mahnken has a great write-up on the ruling and the game.) It could have cost the Yanks the game, which had one of the wildest finishes I’ve ever seen. Torre’s response? He was as accountable as ever:

“I slept,” Torre said. “It’s inexcusable. It was totally my fault.”

2. Keith Law, the erstwhile Baseball Prospectus writer, who now works for the Blue Jays, wrote a letter to the New York Times addressing a recent column by William Rhoden.

3. Jack Curry has a long piece in The Times today about bunting, and how the sacrifice is regarded in the contemporary game.

4. Not wanting to take any chances, the Reds have shut down Brandon Claussen’s season.

5. As always, Gordon Edes’ Sunday Notes column in The Boston Globe is a must-read. Today, he talks about the changing fortunes of the Cubs and Red Sox.

6. Aaron Gleeman weighs in on the fielding prowess of Andruw Jones. Lengthy as usual, but informative and thorough.

7. Mike C takes exception with Jayson Stark’s recent article on Barry Bonds. Quelle suprise, eh. David Pinto offers his take too.

8. Don’t miss Christian Ruzich’s excellent interview with former MLB prospect, Phil Hiatt over at The Cub Reporter.

9. Don’t miss Rich Lederer’s latest piece on Frank Thomas. Don’t like The Big Hurt? Tough. He’s only one of the best offensive players in the history of the game.

10. Finally, a team of Baseball Prospectus all-stars pen a good piece about the greatest young starting rotations in baseball history.

Hope everyone has a great afternoon.


Bottom 12

Jeff Nelson is the new pitcher for the Yanks. Tony Batista leads off for the O’s; he is one of the rare right-handed hitters who does well against Nellie.

Slider outside, 1-0. Fastball, fouled back, 1-1. Another slider, outside, 2-1. Batista hits the next pitch on the screws, but it is right at Matsui in left.

One out.

B.J. Surhoff pinch hits for Fordyce. He swings and misses at a slider in the dirt, 0-1. Another slider, coming from a side-arm angle, right over the plate, 0-2. The next pitch is a heater right over the plate. Chalk up a backwards K for Nellie.

Two out.

Jack Cust is the pinch hitter. Slider, taken for a strike. Fastball, fouled back, 0-2. Fastball up and away for a ball, 1-2. Slider on the outside corner, misses, 2-2. (There are tons of Yankee fans making noise.) Slider on the outside corner. But it’s low. Nellie hops off the mound, but the count is full. Slider way outside, ball four.

Now the Orioles fans counter and make some noise of their own.

Looks like a lack of concentration on Nellie’s part there. He got a little ahead of himself. Mel comes out to talk.

The first pitch to Larry Bigbie is a slider inside for a ball, 1-0. The next pitch is a fastball, down Broadway, taken for a strike, 1-1. Fastball, outside corner, strike two. He nails the pitch into right center field for a single.

Cust comes rounds third and heads for home. But he falls. Soriano takes the cut off throws and throws low to Boone at third. The ball almost got away. Boone chases him home and throws to Posada. Jorgie runs him back to third and throws back to Boone. Boone then moves towards Cust, but nobody is covering home. Nellie is not there!

But Cust falls again! Only feet away from home, he stumbles again; Boone falls on him and makes the tag and the game is over.

Holy Christ I think I just wet myself.

To paraphrase a famous football call, “Jack Cust must be the sickest man in America.” Oh, baby. That’s some good ol’ fashioned dumb luck.

The Yanks escape with an another ugly win, but remain four ahead of the Sox.


Top 12

Nick Johnson is 0-3 with two walks on the night. He walks on five pitches.

Jeter bunts the first pitch in the air!!! (Gasp.) But it falls foul. (Sigh.) The pitch was a heater, up and in. Boy, you don’t see that too often. He swings and missed at the next pitch. Johnson is running. The throw goes through to second, and they pick Johnson off first on a close play.

Good grief.

Ball low, to Jeter. The next pitch is high. Jeter spins away, 2-2. He pops the next pitch, foul and out of play behind the plate. Slider, low, and the count is full. Dag, that one was close. Yeesh. Fastball, low and inside. Jeter waves at it for the strike three.

Fastball high to Giambi, 1-0. He smashed the next pitch into the center field bleachers and the Yanks take the lead, 5-4. The big guy stood at the plate after he hit it; he knew it was gone. How do you say, Jimmy Jack? It’s his 35 homer of the year, and his 94th RBI.

Bernie takes a slider for a strike. Ball, outside, 1-1. Fastball outside, 2-1. Another fastball; this one is fouled off to the left side. Fastball right down the middle, strike three.


Bottom of the 11th. I’m starting to feel nautious. Hell, I’m up now. But I want to be able to get some sleep tonight.

Dave Roberts bunts for a single.

Cruz sets to bunt and looks at two straight balls. Then he swings wildly through a change up, 1-2. He bunts the next pitch to Johnson who goes to first for the first out. Roberts heads to second.

The Orioles are up in the dugout with white towels on their heads, trying to work the rally magic.

Matos, Baltimore’s hero of the night is up. He flies out to deep right field; Roberts tags and moves to third.

Jay Gibbons is next. He’s 0-4 on the night, and Mel Stottlemyre comes out to talk with his pitcher.

Gibbons skies the first pitch to Bernie in center to end the inning.


Hector Carrasco comes on to face Boone. Now, will Torre have Boone bunt? I would think so. Carrasco spins, and throws to second. Bernie slides back. The throw is off; a good throw would have made the play close. Boone bunts the first pitch down the first baseline. The play is to first and the runners move up.

Ruben Sierra pinch hits for Dellucci. Why? David is a lefty, and would have likely been walked. Instead Sierra is given the intentional pass and the bases are loaded for John Flaherty. Karim Garcia pinch runs for Ruben Ruben, and Jorge Posada pinch hits for Flaherty.

Will it be a birthday knock or a birthday double play?

The first pitch to Posada is high for a ball, 1-0. The next pitch is rocketed foul down the first base line, 1-1. Fastball, low; Posada is late, and fouls it off to the left side. He’s now down, 1-2. Fastball, way upstairs, and the count is even. (YES just flashed a chart: Posada is hitting .472 in the last ten days.) The next pitch is fouled back. (A fly ball to the outfield would do…) Slider, swung on and missed, strike three. Good pitch.

Happy fuggin boitday.

Here is Soriano, who is 0-5. He looks at a ball, low, 1-0. Fastball on the inside corner, 1-1. Ground ball to third. Batista steps on the base for the final out. The Yanks are 1-6 with runners in scoring position tonight and if I wasn’t typing, I would throw this damn machine out of the window.


The southpaw Ryan stays in for the O’s and promptly walks Bernie (batting from the right side) to start the 11th.

Matsui takes a healthy cut and fouls away the first pitch Ryan throws him. So much for the sacrifice bunt. The next pitch is a fastball on the outside corner for a strike and Gozilla is in the hole, 0-2. Fastball, upstairs, 1-2. The next pitch is a slider way outside, 2-2. Another heater, just outside; Matsui holds up, and the count is full. (Throw to first.) Wow. That one got my heart beating. The payoff pitch is a fastball, way outside, ball four.

With Boone coming to bat, that’s it for Ryan. Hargrove signals for a righty.


Nick Johnson worked a one-out walk against Kerry Lightenberg, and after Jeter lined out to center on the first pitch, B.J. Ryan came in and fanned Giambi to end the inning.

Chris Hammond replaced Mo, and pitched a 1-2-3 tenth.


Mariano collected saves in the first two games of this series, but he looked fatigued last night.

Luis Matos leads off for Baltimore. He fouls and inside fastball off, 0-1. The next pitch is a fastball tailing in for a ball, 1-1. (Mo continues to tap his left foot tentatively as he comes set; it looks like a cat trying to balance himself on a ledge. I don’t remember Rivera ever doing this until this season.) Matos rocks the next pitch over the left field wall and the game is tied at four. The pitch was a fastball, low and in, and straight as a string. That’s the second consecutive night that the lead-off man has homered vs. Mo.

Gibbons takes a ball high for a ball, 1-0. Fastball outside, 2-0. Fastball high and away, 3-0. (Torre is going to have to answer for the first inning mistake…) Fastball, right down the middle for a strike, 3-1. The next pitch is sliced foul down the left field line. Oh, man was that ever close to being a double. The full count pitch is lined back to Rivera. One out.

Cutter, outside for a ball to Batista. The next pitch is fouled off, 1-1. Cutter, away and out of the zone; Batista waves at it, 1-2. Cutter, in on the hands, fouled back. Another cutter, tailing way outside; Batista whiffs. (That was a good pitch.)

Fordyce looks at another nice cutter for a strike. Good movement on that one. The next pitch is in the same place and Fordyce grounds out to Soriano.

We’re going to extra innings, folks.


Sterling Hitchcock was about as good as anyone could have expected, allowing three runs over six innings. He didn’t throw many pitches and left trailing 3-2. But John Flaherty hit his second solo homer of the game to tie the score in the seventh, and Godzilla Matsui’s RBI single drove home Jason Giambi to give the Yanks the lead, 4-3 in the eighth.

Antonio Osuna worked a perfect seventh. He allowed a single with one out in the eighth, and after fouling off 4 full count pitches, D. Roberts popped out to left for the second out. Osuna is throwing relatively hard tonight. Devi Cruz is up next, and he smacks a grounder to third. Boone has to move to his left—I don’t know if leadfoot Ventura reaches this one—and goes to second for the force to end the inning.

There was an odd bit of business early in the game when Batista and Gibbons batted out of order. But the Yankee bench was slow to catch the mistake and missed their opportunity to protest the error (which would have erased a Baltimore run). Torre, Zim and company suddenly had extra incentive for the Yanks to win. The questions will sting if New York loses by a run.

David Delluci laid out and made another great catch tonight (this one was on the warning track). Bernie is still swinging a good bat, and Aaron Boone has two hits. Jorge Posada turns 32 today, and was given the night off.

Mo is getting ready for the ninth. It’s rare when the sight of Rivera makes one nervous, but since Mo’s cutter hasn’t been cutting too much lately, this one still ain’t over.


Pedro Martinez was 10-0 lifetime against the Mariners going into today’s game. When all was said and done he improved to 11-0, and the Sox rolled to a 5-1 win.


Will Carroll and Derek Zumsteg’s Pete Rose story got some big league support Thursday from Allen Barra in The Wall Street Journal. Both Marvin Miller and Bill James are quoted in the piece; Carroll delineated the origins of the scoop to Barra (if anybody needed clarification).

Bill James put it well when he told Barra:

“I hope it is true. We can’t argue forever about what Rose did or didn’t do, and it isn’t doing baseball any good to allow a perception to fester that the game has dealt unfairly with one of its greatest stars. At some point, you just have to move on.”

It’s good to have friends in high places, and Barra’s column is a credibility-boost to the Zumsteg-Carroll piece. Good for them.


The Yankees did almost everything they could to lose last night in Baltimore, but Aaron Boone got his first big hit for New York, and the Bombers toppled the O’s, 6-4. Roger Clemens started and although he never seemed totally comfortable, the Rocket bulldozed his way through seven innings and left the game with a 2-1 lead, which the bullpen promptly spoiled.

Jesse Orosco and Jeff Nelson were ineffective and the Orioles went into the ninth leading 3-2. With men on first and second and one out, Aaron Boone came to the plate. The O’s had intentionally walked Nick Johnson twice earlier in the game to face Boone, who could not take advantage of the opportunities. He wasn’t alone as the Yankees stranded two bases runners in each of the first five innings. They left another man on in the sixth, and they left the bases loaded in the eighth.

Boone hit a line drive to right field which was foul by inches. Quickly he had two strikes against him again. But he recovered and hit what looked like a three-run homer to left. But it was called foul. Boone, making his way around first, couldn’t believe it and sprinted across the infield to argue the call. The umps got together and reversed the ruling. The ball was fair and the Yanks once again had the lead. It was Boone’s first homer for the Yanks. Lil Sori added a solo shot for good measure.

After the game, Boone told the Post:

“I thought, What else could be happening here?” Boone said after the game. “There was a lot of disbelief. I thought – and I was positive – it was fair. I’m glad, to their credit, they got it right.”

Mariano came on in the ninth and immediately served up a bomb to Jack Cust. The Orioles got two more hits before Rivera got out of the inning on a couple of comebackers. So the bullpen and the lack of clutch-hitting plagued the Yanks once again; however, they were able to come away with a win, which should keep the kvetching at bay (for today at least). Bernie Williams also hit a home run, and looks as if he’s starting to get into a groove. Jorge Posada is the hottest hitter on the team right now.

Meanwhile, the Mariners were busy beating up on the Red Sox—Ichiro hit a grand slam—and the Yanks now have a four-game lead (five in the loss column). They are going to need the cushion because Sterling Hitchcock is pitching tonight. That could be an adventure. But if the bats show up, he might be all right.

Jeremy Giambi is going to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder this week. It is one of the few moves that haven’t worked out for Theo Epstein this year.


Yesterday afternoon a co-worker started a dumb ass debate with me about whether Pedro Martinez is a Hall of Famer or not. He didn’t think he was; I think he’s out of his bird. So I e-mailed Aaron Gleeman and asked for a link to some of his articles on the subject. I was in the process of forwarding them to my dim-witted pal, when the power went out.

I looked across the street and saw that the power was out in Rockerfeller Center as well. Everybody was calm, but I was tense and ready to spint if I had to. After 15 minutes of making phone calls and trying to figure out what the hell was going on, I joined the hoards of people on the streets. I work in the Time Life Building on 50th street and I live on 232nd street. Talk about a hike. But I have family on the Upper West side, so I knew I wouldn’t have to shlep all the way home.

I ended up crashing at my aunt and uncles, and didn’t make it home until just after 10:00 am Friday morning. I’m thoroughly exhausted (this must be how Will Carroll feels). Without going into the grizzly details of my particular adventure, let me say that New Yorkers were calm and under control.

Yesterday evening, your basic type A personalities took charge and stood in the middle of busy intersections and played traffic cop (where is Ned the wino when you need him?). Bascially, you saw the best and worst of human nature: some avaricious vendors were selling water for up to three bucks, while others were giving it away for free. Cars were filled with strangers, and good will generally ruled the day—just ask Mike Lupica. Also, the streets were replete with video cameras, hoping to catch something…anything sensational.

I was concerned that once it got dark, we could see a repeat of the ’77 blackout, but I don’t think that happened. (I was six during that crisis and don’t remember it at all.) It probably helped that the power went out many hours before nightfall, and I also think the 9.11 experience has altered the way we handle ourselves under duress as well.

It didn’t occur to me until this morning to find out what happened around the majors last night. I didn’t know whether there would be any papers at all. But when I saw the Daily News, I happily discovered the Yanks had actually played their game in Baltimore last night and won, 8-5. Godzilla did his best Pete Reiser impression and made a great catch late in the game as he ran into the outfield wall. Posada had another big night, and Bernie had three hits as well. Pettitte wasn’t sharp but got the win. Funny how things even out, huh?

You don’t say. The Red Sox won a dramatic game in Oakland yesterday afternoon and left town with a split. The Yanks still lead Boston by three.

It’s almost noon, and I’m going to sleep.


Rob Neyer’s latest column is about the Pete Rose affair. I think it’s a great piece; it ostensibly sums up how I feel about the whole mess. I find the Pete Rose story too enervating to write about. I just don’t care enough about it to get all worked up, one way or the other. David Pinto adds some good points about Rose as well at Baseball Musings, while Jay Jaffe does his customary due dilegence over at Futility Infielder.


Poor Jeff Weaver. He just can’t catch a break. Forget that he’s pitching for one of the best teams in the game, the world has conspired against him. After getting torched again last night, here is what Weaver offered to the press after the game:

“Everything that can go wrong now is going wrong,” Weaver said. “If I fall behind, they hit it. If I make a good pitch, they hit it. It’s tough to comprehend because I’ve made those pitches before and they’ve worked.”

…I know I know how to pitch. I know how to win.”

That’s almost as weak as the stuff he had on the mound. Joe Torre was blunt in his assessment of Weaver’s performance:

“He didn’t make good pitches,” Torre said. “He left a lot over the plate and the Royals let him know about it…It wasn’t a good night. I found no positives in the way he pitched tonight.”

Kevin Appier was effective, and KC rolled to an 11-0 shutout. Even though he was recently cut by the Angels, Appier has a lower ERA than Weaver. The Yanks lost two of three again to a good team, and they also lost a game in the standings as the Sox finally beat the A’s, 7-3.

There isn’t anything good to say about last night’s game from a Yankee perspective. The dog days have enveloped them indeed. Derek Jeter did offer a reality check of sorts:

“It’s great when you can struggle this time of year and still be in first place. A lot of teams would like to be in our position right now.”

Just ask the Twins.


Jeff Weaver started the first by giving up two singles. He then walked Raul Ibanez on a full count pitch. It looked as if Ibanez went around, and it also appeared as if the home plate ump raised his hand to signal strike three. But it was ball four. Joe Torre and Zim protested to no avail. Weaver’s old pal, Mike Sweeney smacked a fat 1-0 fastball into right for a two-run single, and Weaver and the Yanks were lucky to escape the inning down, 3-0.

Weaver has his screwed-up ‘game face’ on. I used to think it was concentration. Now I think it’s a cheap guise to cover his fear. Come on, dammit. Show some mettle Jeff, you big baby. Don’t be a sucka.

Appier looks like crap—watching him pitch is like being at the dentist without novocaine–but he’s escaped trouble through two. This is going to be ugly.


Jeff Weaver goes against the recently aquired Kevin Appier tonight in KC. Thank goodness the Yankee bullpen got a rest last night, because they’ll most likley be called on this evening. Weaver and Mike Sweeney got into it a couple of years ago. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone gets testy in the heartland. (The Yankees haven’t been in a brawl all season, and I don’t recall if they were involved in one in 2002 either.) Hopefully, Weaver won’t pitched scared and the Yankees can manage to come back east with a series win. After all, the Sox won’t continue to lose forever.

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