"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: June 2004

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Right On

In Summing Up…

I love Larry Mahnken’s take on last night’s game:

…The victory cinches nothing, nor would a sweep–devastating to Boston though it would be. Not with the immense talent on the Boston roster, and the potential for debilitating injuries on the Yankees’. A Red Sox fan friend of mine at work claimed the other day that Boston’s just been toying with the Yankees for the past 85 years–just to make their ultimate victory that much more bitter for the Bombers. I pass that on for its humor, but there is a caution that comes with it: Boston will eventually beat the Yankees out, they will eventually win the World Series, some day. The Yankees rebounded in ’78 later in the season from a larger deficit than Boston could possibly face entering July, and the circumstances that brought that Red Sox team down could happen to the Yankees. Celebrate the victories, rub it in–but don’t ever allow yourself to believe it’s over until the champagne bottles are uncorked.

The series now turns in Boston’s favor, with Tim Wakefield and Pedro Martinez facing off against Jon Lieber and Brad Halsey. Wakefield’s had tremendous success against the Yankees recently, and Pedro Martinez shut them down in their last meeting in April, so a series victory by Boston is still very much a possibility, almost even a probability. But if the Yankees can keep the offense going like it has in the past three games, and get reasonable outings from their starters… well, just watch. It’s New York/Boston–it feels like October baseball already, and it’s barely summer.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Yanks 11, Sox 3

Simply Blunderful

Sorry for the delayed post today, y’all. I’m home sick and I’m not the only one under the weather; my computer has been crashing all morning, so I’ve had a heck of a time getting these links done. Regardless, it was a good night for the Yanks on Tuesday, and a horrible one for Boston. The Red Sox sabatoged themselves last night with three errors and two more misplays which led to Yankee runs, as the Bombers creamed Boston 11-3. The most costly error came with two men out in the fourth. The Yankees already held a 4-2 lead, thanks in part to aggresive base-running, and despite the fact that Johnny Damon crushed two solo home runs off of Javier Vazquez. With Miguel Cairo on second, Derek Jeter hit a ground ball to Nomar Garciaparra. Cairo held up momentarily, and just as the ball passed him, he clapped his hands together, as he headed for third. Garciaparra, who made a throwing error in the first, bobbled the ball and Jeter reached first. Gary Sheffield, “The Punisher,” followed and launched a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence.

The Yankees had a comfortable 7-2 lead and didn’t look back. Tony Clark added a monster shot into the black seats in center field, and David “Cookie Monster” Ortiz hit a solo blast that was similar to Ruben Sierra’s home run on Sunday night. Three solo home runs were all the Sox could muster off of Yankee pitching. Javier Vazquez has allowed 15 dingers this season; fortunately for the Yankees, 12 have been of the solo variety.

Vazquez wasn’t dominant, but he was solid, striking out eight and walking none. It was a forgettable evening for Derek Lowe and the rest of the Red Sox who hope to rebound tonight behind Tim Wakefield. Red Sox fans could not have been pleased at the sight of Pedro Martinez standing on the top step of the Red Sox dugout, smiling and laughing with the fans, even posing for pictures. According to Jim Kaat on YES, Martinez stopped in on the Yankees’ batting practice earlier in the day. He appeared in the empty stands and walked toward the field clapping like a Yankee fan as Derek Jeter took BP, chanting, “De-rek Je-ter.” He came down to the field and shook hands with Jeter, Mattingly and Tony Clark among others. Somewhere, Bob Gibson is rolling his eyes.

The Red Sox defense is killing them right now. Yesterday, Peter Gammons spoke with Fatso and Fruit Loops on the FAN (excerpt via Steve Silva):

The starting pitching’s been pretty good. But it’s the baseball they play. This is incredible to me. They’ve gone eight consecutive games without turning a double play. That’s incomprehensible. They are so dysfunctional defensively. They lead the major leagues in unearned runs allowed. It’s really disturbing. And I know it really disturbs management that they’re just playing blas

Back Again

Jeez, with all the hype in the morning papers you’d think the Red Sox are in town or something. But that’s what professionals get paid to do, right? (Pump, Pump, Pump, Pump You Up!) While there isn’t any news, or particularly interesting information, the gist of it is, the Red Sox have been mediocre since beating up on the Yankees early in the year. They could use a good kick in the pants and hope that playing in the Bronx will get them rolling again. Meanwhile, the Yankees have played well since April and would like to perform better against their arch rivals. Tonight may be New York’s best shot, as Javier Vazquez goes against Derek Lowe. Tomorrow gives Jon Lieber vs. Tim Wakefield, followed by Prince Pedro vs. the rookie Brad Halsey on Thursday.

Red Sox fans will be amused by the fact that George Steinbrenner has aimed his most pointed criticism at struggling first baseman Jason Giambi and not the Red Sox. Here is some of the old Knute Rockne, as told to the New York Times:

“I think he has to want to get back out there,” Steinbrenner said. “I think that’s the thing. I think he will. There is no reason for him not to be out there.”

…When Steinbrenner was asked if his comments meant that he thought Giambi had some reason for not playing, he said: “I hope he doesn’t. I hope he isn’t that way. That wouldn’t be the guy we thought we got.”

Be sure and peep the Red Sox sites listed on the right-hand column here, including of course, Bambino’s Curse, Boston Dirt Dogs, The House that Dewey Built, Surviving Grady, The Joy of Sox, and The Soxaholix

Double Trouble

Game One: Yankees 8, Mets 1

Game Two: Yankees 11, Mets 5

The Yanks bombed the Mets twice yesterday at the Stadium, winning the first match-up of the season between the crosstown rivals. They remain five-and-a-half games in front of the Red Sox who defeated the Phillies in Boston on Sunday afternoon. In the first game in the Bronx, Jose Contreras performed well, striking out a career-high ten in six innings of work. (His wife and two children were in the house to watch him pitch.) He allowed two hits and walked four. Both of the Mets who had hits off of Contreras were thrown out stealing by John Flaherty. Contreras got into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, but with a little help from his friends–the Yankees have many meetings on the mound when Contreras is in a jam–was able to escape without any damage being done.

In the fourth, Kenny Lofton made a glaring one-out error, dropping a ball that was hit directly at him, and then Mike Piazza drew a walk. But Contreras struck the next two men out to end the frame. In the next inning, Contreras walked the bases loaded. With two out, the count went full to Kaz Matsui, who fouled a ball off before flying out to left field to end the threat. Contreras was also aided by Brian Runge’s liberal strike zone. The Mets hitters were not pleased, notably Jose Reyes who posed, hands on his hips, after being called out on strikes for the second time.

Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield hit back-to-back solo dingers off of Steve Traschel in the first, and Jeter smacked another solo homer in his second at bat. But Traschel settled down and pitched reasonably well. However, the last two men he faced reached base and eventually scored when Godziller Matsui hit Mike Stanton’s first pitch into the bleachers for a grand slam. Flash Gordon pitched the final two innings for the Yanks.

Jason Giambi was a late scratch due to illness. Giambi has been fighting a virus for several weeks and was taken to the hospital. He was suffering from dehydration and was treated with fluids. I thought we might hear whispers in the morning papers about Giambi not being a gamer–especially after being called out by Boss George for a fielding mistake on Saturday afternoon–but so far, I haven’t heard anything to that effect.

Game Two started off well for the Yankees. Bernie Williams led-off against Matt Ginter and slapped a ball through the box. It was well struck but Ginter got a glove on it. The Mets pitcher couldn’t handle it though, Williams reached first, and was awarded a base hit–a home-field call if there ever was one. Next, Ginter threw a purpose pitch at Jeter–3-4 in the first game–which nailed the Yankees’ captain in the hand. Jeter was not pleased.

My adreneline was spiked as Gary Sheffield walked to the plate and I thought, “There isn’t anyone I’d rather see in this spot than Sheff.” Sheffield responded by lashing a single into left, a measure of revenge for the Yanks. Then Alex Rodriguez topped a 2-2 offering slowly down the third base line for a cheap infield hit scoring Jeter, a demoralizing moment for the Mets. Rodriguez’s face was flush as he stood on first, but he’ll take it. After Matsui whiffed on three pitches, Jorge Posada singled to left scoring another run and then Ruben Sierra launched a three-run bomb to right.

The Mets chipped away. Mike Cameron lined a solo home run, and Richard Hidalgo smoked two monster solo bombs–one to straight-away center, another deep into the Yankees bullpen. They were shots. (Not for nothing but Eric Valent launched one into the upper deck in right later too.) If the Mets were unhappy with the balls and strikes in Game One, it was the Yankees turn to be miffed in the second game. Gary Sheffield got himself tossed in the fourth inning riffing with home plate ump Bill Hohn; Mike Mussina was fuming all evening in his own quiet way too. The Mets actually closed the gap to 7-5 in the seventh. But the Bombers loaded the bases and Mike Stanton was called on again. This time, Ruben Sierra reached out and poked a good curve ball into left, scoring two more runs. One batter later, Miguel Cairo singled up the middle, the Yanks were ahead 11-5 and the game was out of reach.

It was a good day for the home team, a long one for the Mets. Both New York teams lost out on the Freddie Garcia sweepstakes. Garcia was traded to the Chicago White Sox last night. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board for Brian Cashman.

The Red Sox will be in town for a three-game series this week. Anyone interested? Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken have a preview over at The Hardball Times.

Mets 9, Yanks 3


The Yankees had a chance to get to Senator Al Leiter in the first inning at Yankee Stadium yesterday and failed. With one out and the bases loaded, Leiter fell behind Jason Giambi 2-0, but came back to get the slugger looking on a full-count pitch. It felt like a big moment at the time, and it turned out to be one in the long-run. Jorge Posada followed and tapped out weakly to the mound. It was the begining of a long, listless day for the Bombers.

The Yankees provided rookie pitcher Brad Halsey with four first inning runs last week in Los Angeles. But they didn’t give him a lead against the Mets, and the young control-specialist simply could not throw strikes. He walked five in all, and his three walks in the fourth inning helped sink the Yankees. So did a poor play by first baseman Jason Giambi. With runners on first and third, the Yankees looked to have Jose Reyes picked off of first base. But Giambi, whose greatest weakness is his throwing arm, faked to second and ate the ball. Perhaps he was afraid that he would throw the ball into left field. The infield came in and Kaz Matsui poked one into right scoring two more runs.

Although Gary Sheffield hit a game-tying homer early, the Yankees were blown out at home. Frankly, they played a terrible game and deserved to lose. Al Leiter and Brad Halsey were a study in contrasts. Leiter was effectively wild, a veteran who was utterly at ease going to a full count before he made his pitch; Halsey nervously danced around the strike zone, afraid to challenge hitters. Though Halsey appeared as calm as he did last week–Joe Torre’s “paper boy” looks as if he could be Buck Showalter’s son–but he didn’t pitch with confidence. Leiter, with his full array of tics and quirks, vexed the Yankees, dictating the pace of the game. His fastball had some zip and his breaking ball was good too. But even more, he used his guile to throw the Yankee hitters off balance. In the second, with the count 2-2 to Ruben Sierra, Leiter began his motion, only to break it off mid-way through. “Let’s do this over.” An innocent enough mistake, or was it? After the count went full, Sierra struck out on a breaking ball and he glared at Senator Al as he made his way back to the dugout. Leiter was all-school yard for sure.

In all, it was an ugly day for the Yankees, and a bright one for the Mets. The Shea faithful made plenty of noise at the Stadium and had themselves a B-A-double L. For the Bombers, they can’t forget this game soon enough. Especially with a grumpy Boss George in the house. Fortunately, the Red Sox were pounded by the Phillies too, so New York’s lead remains at five. (Boston gained a half a game on Friday night when the Yankee game was rained out.)

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday in New York and they’ll play two today. At one o’clock Jose Contreras will go against Traschel. This could be a decent game or it could be plodding, and drawn-out affair. Neither pitcher is known for being economical or brisk. (The Mets ran on Halsey and Sturtze yesterday; best believe they are licking their chops at the thought of getting on base vs. Contreras.) Then tonight, Matt Ginter will face Mike Mussina in the Sunday Night Game of the Week.

Hopefully, the Yanks put forth a more compelling effort today, or we’re really going to hear it from George.

Case Closed

King of Chill

New York magazine features an excerpt from Buster Olney’s forthcoming book about the Joe Torre Yankees (“The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, The Team, and the Cost of Greatness”) this week. The excerpt in question profiles Mariano Rivera. What makes Rivera so special? Olney writes:

Where other relievers are crushed after giving up a game-winning home run (the emotionally wrecked reliever is a baseball clich

Very Serious (Like a Peak Frean)

As I mentioned the other day, I don’t look forward to the annual Subway Serious. I can’t speak for other Yankee fans, but considering how heavily-favored the Yankees usually are, it’s more of a relief than anything else when they beat the Mets. It’s not nearly as gratifying as when the Yanks defeat the Sox or the A’s or even Anahiem as far as I’m concerned. (They are 28-13 against the men from Queens since this nonsense started.) I don’t hate the Mets or Mets fans, though I’ll be rooting hard against them this weekend. And yeah, when the Mets beat the Yankees, I do get extra vexed. (How can I forget Matt Franco’s game-winner off of Mo.) But while some of the newer Mets are amped about all the hoo-ha, the veteran Yankees have grown weary of this match-up. Joe Torre hit the nail of the head when he told the Times:

“It’s not a rivalry,” Torre said. “It’s a rivalry more to management than it is to me or the players, because you don’t have to beat them out for anything in terms of the division. It’s more a battle for recognition in the city – not in the standings, in the city. I still put it in the exhibition category. Not that you’re not trying to win, but you’re still playing a team from the other league.”

The Mets get a break of sorts as they’ll face a rookie and Jose Contreras. The Yanks are fortunate to miss Tom Glavine. Regardless of what goes down, be sure and check out the host of great Mets sites linked on the right-hand column, inlcuding The Eddie Kranepool Society, The Raindrops, Jeremy Heit’s Blog, The Shea Hot Corner, Saber Mets, and of course, the fellas over at Yankees, Mets and the Rest.

Yankees 5, Orioles 2

The Yankees finished their nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record as they return to the Bronx tonight for a three-game series against the Mets. (It is supposed to rain today so we just may be looking at a double-header tomorrow.) Javier Vazquez gave up a two-run homer in the first and that was all the Orioles would get for the duration of the game. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter both hit two-run dingers of their own and Kenny Lofton had a nifty assist in the seventh inning which proved to be the defensive play of the game. (By the way, not for nothing, but Bernie Williams actually had an assist the night before…though throwing out old man Raffie isn’t exactly something to write home about; that’s probably why I neglected to mention it yesterday.)

Coupled with a Red Sox loss, the Yankees are now five-and-a-half games ahead of the Bostons. The Twins won in ten innings, aided in part by a critical error by Nomar Garciaparra. As Tony Massarotti notes, Boston is 25-25 in their last 50 games. The Yankees scored a moral victory of sorts against the Sox yesterday as well when Carlos Beltran was traded to the Astros and not to Boston (shows you how much I know). Houston moved Octavio Dotel to Oakland, which should help a lousy bullpen plenty.

O’s 13, Yanks 2

Ah-ha, just what Red Sox Nation has been waiting for: the Orioles finally gave the Yankees a beating. Unfortunately for Sox fans, it came on a night when the home nine lost (4-2 to the Twins). Jon Lieber was pounded in Baltimore as the O’s finally defeated the Bombers. According to the New York Times:

“I know I’m much better than this,” Lieber said… “It’s definitely embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for the ball club to go out there and just get beat around.”

…”People I’ve talked to said it’s not going to be an easy road that first year, and you’re not going to be as consistent as you’d like to be,” Lieber said Tuesday. “Even though you might feel good, as far as command of your pitches, it’s going to bury you from time to time. It’s just going to be a battle.”

Futher, John Harper reports:

When Jon Lieber gave up three runs in the first inning last night, one wise guy in the press box couldn’t resist:

“The Mariners are raising the price on (Freddy) Garcia by the minute,” he said, to laughs all around.

Down 7-2, the Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth. But Jason Grimsley, the former Yankee and newest member of the Orioles, struck out Ruben Sierra, and Tony Clark, then got Miguel Cairo to ground out. That was as close as New York would get.

Gary Sheffield sat again and just may have to go on the DL. So for all of the talk about Freddie Garcia, if anything happens to Sheffield who would be surprised if the Yankees swoop down on Carlos Beltran after all?

Javier Vazquez will pitch against Sidney Ponson tonight. Here are some more articles on Jose Contreras for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing

Welcome Back: Yanks 10, Orioles 4

Camden Yards was a sight for sore eyes indeed. The Baltimore Orioles walked 13 Yankee batters last night, and Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs as the Bronx Bombers cruised to victory. Derek Jeter added a three-run shot, and after a choppy first inning, Mike Mussina retired the last twelve men he faced. The game could have been more of a blow-out if the Yankees didn’t waste several scoring opportunities in the middle innings. Brett Prinz walked the bases-loaded in the eighth inning forcing Tom Gordon to close the game out. Gary Sheffield sat out after receiving a cortisone shot in his left shoulder, where he is suffering from bursitis (he is day-to-day). In addition, it doesn’t look as if Kevin Brown will pitch against the Sox next week; a throwing session has been bumped back to Friday and Brown will probably have one rehab start before he rejoins the big league club.

The Red Sox pounded the Twins behind strong performances from Curt Schilling and Nomar Garciaparra to remain four-and-a-half behind New York. However, the results of last night’s games were a footnote to the breaking news that Jose Contreras’ wife and two children had defected from Cuba. Contreras flew to Florida last night where he was reunited with his family. In the photographs I’ve seen, Contreras looked calm and peaceful with his tired and confused baby-girl in his arms. His wife Miriam has dark skin, a round face, and an inviting smile. His eldest daughter looked directly into the cameras. I can only imagine how surreal the events of the past two days must have been for them.

This is warming news, and I’m happy for Contreras and the women in his life. Whether or not this will change his performance on the field, who is to say? It makes for a nice fantasy, though I don’t know how piece of mind and mental stability will speed-up Contreras’ plodding delivery. Still, before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s a nice story to soak in this morning.

Foist Tings Foist

The Mets come to Yankee Stadium for three games this weekend; they will be followed by the Boston Red Sox for three more next week. After that, the Bombers travel to Queens for finish interleague play for the season. It is sure to be hype-week here in New York. But the Yanks have three games in Baltimore before we get to the hysteria. Hopefully, they will concentrate on the task at hand, because though Baltimore’s pitching is awful, they can certainly score some runs. Plus, after the losing to New York six times this year, you figure they’ll be amped for this series. I haven’t checked the papers yet, but I believe the Yanks will be throwing Mussina, Lieber and Vazquez against the O’s. Oh, what a comforting feeling that is.

Is anyone actually excited about the so-called Subway Serious this year? I know I’m not. The Mets have never won a season series from the Yankees yet, and since they seem to be playing well against good teams in 2004, perhaps this is their year. I could see it happening. But you know me, I’m a superstitious sort. What’s on your mind? Is everyone pumped about next week or what?


Candus Thomson has a piece in the Baltimore Sun about those inter-locking YH (Yankee-Hater) caps that are all the rage this season in and around Red Sox Nation. But the Dirt Dog, Steve Silva, isn’t impressed:

“Real Red Sox fans are sick and tired of this obsession with the Yankees,” says Steve Silva, webmaster of the site www.bostondirtdogs.com. “Yankees Hater is just a rip-off of Yankees suck. It’s cheap and low-rent and makes us look like idiots.”

Silva, a third-generation Red Sox fan, says Orioles fans won’t fall for the hype.

“What is so appealing about promoting the Yankees? That’s all this is,” he says. “Do Orioles fans obsess about 1996 and that Jeffrey [Maier] kid interfering with the ball, or do they care about the present state of their team?”

Right on, bro. But speaking of the Bombers, check out Larry Mahnken and Steve Bonner’s posts on last night’s game. Steve is a big Giambi fan. Unlike me, he hasn’t wavered this season:

Last night was proof that this guy is always dangerous. He did what A-Rod couldn’t do in a key situation, by taking Gagne deep. As I pointed out before the season, Giambi is past his prime, but he is still a money hitter. Ask Gagne, and for that matter ask Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox.

It’s ubelieveable to me how Yankee fans have cooled on this guy. I mean let’s be clear here, if it wasn’t for Giambi in Game 7 of the ALCS, there’s no Posada’s double, there’s no Grady Little getting fired, there’s no Aaron F’n Boone, there’s no World Series for that matter. And yet 9 out of 10 Yankee fans I talk to are like, boy that Giambi sucks, what a bust. Right. Okay well he can play for my Yankees. You don’t have to like him.

I still like Giambi but haven’t enjoyed watching him as much this year. He is a great hitter and clearly enjoys hitting. If I concentrate on that, it’s easier to appreciate his game. Like Mark McClusky mentioned in his post this morning there aren’t too many hitters who could take Gagne deep like Giambi did last night.

Rashomon Monday: Dodgers 5, Yanks 4

Hollywood Ending?

The Yankees had their movie moment on Saturday when Brad Halsey, a fresh-faced kid straight outta central casting, won his big league debut against the Dodgers (Halsey actually looks like the kid in the movie that gets to act out every boy’s fantasy by actually pitching for a big league team, only in the movies they usually pitch against the Yankees). On Sunday night, the Dodgers capped the weekend on a dramatic note as Eric Gagne faced the heart of the Yankees order with the game on the line. Gagne, who recorded his 81rst consecutive save, entered the game with two outs and a runner on in the eighth inning to square off against Alex Rodriguez. Gagne struck Rodriguez out swinging with a blazing fastball. Later, the Yankee third baseman told reporters:

“I got one pitch to hit, the last one,” Rodriguez said, meaning the fastball he missed. “He put a little bit extra on it. It’s fun to face a guy like that, it’s a fun situation, the fans were into it. He had good stuff. We felt we had a pretty good chance against him. (N.Y. Daily News)

Jason Giambi, who had three hits on the night, led off the ninth and lifted a 1-2 breaking ball over the right-center field fence drawing the Yankees closer, 5-4. Next, Gary Sheffield smacked a rocket directly at the Dodgers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre, who easily recorded the out. Jorge Posada flew out to left on the first pitch he saw from Gagne and then Hideki Matsui worked the count full only to be called out looking to end the game. Never mind that the pitch was clearly outside; the Yankees have seen plenty of generous game-ending calls behind their stud closer too. (Mike Francesa, eat your heart out.) The Dodgers set an attendance record for a three-game series, drawing 165,240 fans. Business as usual for the Yankees on the road.

This was the kind of finish that everyone had hoped for; only Yankee fans could be disapointed with the results. In all, this was the best game of the weekend series. The Yankees hit the ball hard several times (Kenny Lofton) but didn’t have much to show for it. Jose Contreras pitched well, despite giving up four runs in the second inning. (My man Shawn Green homered–his first hit of the series–and Dave Roberts had a two-out, two RBI bloop single to center.) Contreras didn’t allow a walk, and pitched with confidence after the second.

Jose Lima was effective as well. He gave up back-to-back solo homers to Matsui and Miguel Cairo. In the seventh, Matsui struck again, and knocked a two-out, RBI triple off the center field wall. The Yanks trailed 4-3. But in the bottom of the inning, again with two out, Dave Roberts sliced a single to left. Matsui charged the ball, hoping to nail the speedster at second, but it slipped past him, and rolled all the way to wall. The race was on, and it wasn’t even close. This must have been the most exciting play of the evening for Dodger fans as Roberts raced around the bases and scored easily. It turned out to be the crucial play of the game.

Dodger Stadium looked great yesterday. My only complaint was the bush “Yank-ees sucks” chants which didn’t stop all weekend. (Believe that, a Yankee fan offended by rude and crude fan behavior.) Maybe Dodger fans were still smarting from how the Lakers went out in the N.B.A. finals. Regardless, they were incorrigible.

I am fascinated by late-afternoon starts because I love to watch how the evening sun casts shadows on the field. The sun sets behind third base in L.A., so the right-side of the fielders’ faces were in the light and their shadows–which got longer and thinner as the game progessed–were cast toward right field. The right-handed hitters were back-lit for the first three innings. Above all, the stadium was replete with blue (Rob Neyer’s worst dream come true). The colors were crisp and bold in the warm evening light, painting a vivid picture for those of us watching at home. It must have been a terrific game to attend. At the very least, you would have been spared having to listen to Tommy Lasorda and Reggie Jackson rehash the past on ESPN.

I wasn’t too discouraged when it was over. First of all, the Red Sox lost earlier in the day to the Giants (Fronzie strikes again!): one-hit by Jason Schmidt. That took a lot of the pressure off the game for me. Plus, even though the Yanks came up short, you’ve got to like their chances in a close game like that. I’m almost certain that no self-respecting Dodger fan thought the Yankees were going to go away quietly. And nobody would have been suprised if the Yankees came back to swipe the win, no disrespect to Gagne the Great.

I’m also relatively certain that the Yankees were steamed that they didn’t win the game too. That’s fine by me. They had a chance to go 4-2 on this west coast swing, but had to settle for 3-3 instead. Hopefully, the plane ride back east was uncomfortable; the pitching in Baltimore come tomorrow should be a sight for sore eyes indeed. (Hey, at least they don’t have to face the big, bad D-Rays, right?)

For more on the game, be sure and slip around the dial here at all-baseball.com where everyone has their own take on what went down.

Yanks 6, Dodgers 2

On an overcast afternoon in Los Angeles, Brad Halsey made his major-league debut and led the Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Dodgers. Tim McCarver said that Joe Torre had told him that Halsey looks like his paper boy. Halsey does seem amazingly young. It doesn’t look like he even shaves yet. The kid has a broad face, blong hair and a big set of teeth (his front tooth is chipped). He doesn’t look exactly like Matt Damon, but he’s a similar boyish vibe. However, he pitched with poise and confidence and was the picture of calm. Jose Contreras could learn something from watching Halsey. (The kid probably earned himself another start, pending on how Kevin Brown feels.) Staked to a four-run lead in the first, Halsey put runners on second and third with one out. The Dodgers scored a run on Shawn Green’s RBI ground out but that was it.

Later, Hideo Nomo popped a solo shot over the left field wall for the Dodgers second and final run of the afternoon. Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez contributed RBI singles for New York but the big blow was a bizarre three-run homer off the bat of Godziller Matsui. After Derek Jeter singled and was then thrown out trying to steal in the first, Nomo walked Rodriguez and Jason Giambi (14 pitch at-bat). Sheffield singled sharply up the middle to score Rodriguez and then Matsui stuck his bat out on an 0-2 breaking ball, and somehow managed to hook a dinger into the front row of the low right-field seats. Directly into some dude’s glove. It was as if they guy had a magnet in his mitt. But as the Fox announcers noted, it was a weak, defensive swing. The dinger was probably front-page news back in Japan (Nomo struck Matsui out twice in a row after the homer).

The most amusing moment of the game for the New Yorkers was when Halsey dumped a single into left field for a single but proceeded to run straight through first base as if he had grounded out. This brought the Yankee bench to their feet. To a man, they were all cracking up.

The crowd was lively and the chants of “Yank-ees suck” were loud and steady throughout the afternoon (for a first-hand account of the game, head on over to Jon Weisman’s Dodger Thoughts). Fewer beach balls made it onto the field Saturday than we saw Friday night, so perhaps the crowd was actually into the game.

The Yanks gained a game on Boston who rallied against San Francisco but in the end were buried by a pinch-hit homer by Edgardo Alfonzo. Tonight gives a match-up of two very different kinds of clowns: the volatile and always animated Jose Lima vs. the sleepy and lumbering Jose Contreras. I can see this game going either way. The Dodgers offense doesn’t look to be particularly patient so that could work in Contreras’ favor. However, they have speed to burn, and if the can get guys on base, they will surely bother the Yankees’ big Cuban. Contreras rattles easily, especially with speed on the bases. As for Lima, I reckon his plan is to hold the Yankees down for six innings and then turn things over to L.A.’s Big Three. Could be an ugly game tonight. Tune in tomorrow for the skinny.

And happy Father’s Day to all you daddies out there. Enjoy.

Dodgers 6, Yankees 3

Hey, where is your sense of humor?

In their first game at Dodger Stadium since the 1981 World Serious, the Yankees picked up right where they left off, playing listless baseball and blowing a lead to the home team, losing 6-3. Jeff Weaver out-pitched Javier Vazquez, and the Dodgers bullpen cleaned the Bombers’ clock in the final three innings. Although he scored a run, Alex Rodriguez failed to reach base safely, his streak of consecutive games on base ending at 53. The Yankees’ lead is down to three-and-a-half as the Sox out-lasted the Giants in San Francisco.

It was a rare night of misery for Vazquez, who after the game told reporters that he had “nothing.” He wasn’t far off. Vazquez pitched defensively, with caution all evening. Jason Giambi made a key error which led to Los Angeles tying the game at three. Later, Vazquez made a throwing error of his own, and he threw three wild pitches to boot.

In all, it was a forgettable night for the visiting team. (I see Cliff Corcoran was up late after the game, restless, just like me.) The crowd happily cheered “Yank-ees suck” for most of the game and were sent home in good spirits. It was a frustrating game to watch, but the Yankees didn’t deserve to win it the way they played. It was no fun hearing the “Yank-ees suck,” chant, but then again, I hate hearing any crowd cheering that any team sucks (especially at Yankee Stadium). Why not, “Beat the Yanks,” or even “Screw the Yanks?” That’s honest and acceptable. But “Yank-ees suck” is just plain incorrect. You may hate them, but they don’t suck.

Aw, I’m just sore. But you know who I was most upset with after last night? New York sports radio personality Mike Francesa, the Yankee-half of the Mike and the Mad Dog (re: Fatso and Fruit Loops) show. I caught the tail-end of their show yesterday afternoon and Francesa was licking his chops at the thought of Weaver pitching against his erstwhile team. He’ll fold, he can’t pitch in a pressure situation Francesa crowed. Further, he couldn’t wait to see Gagne have to save a game against the big, bad Yankees. Francesa has chided Gagne all season long. Welp, Mike, you got what you wanted. Happy, round man?

Spitefully, I was happy to see the Dodgers stick it to smug Yankee fans like Francesa, who obviously haven’t been paying too close attention to the Dodgers this year. Big, fat know-it-all gavone.

After winning the first two games of this road trip behind Contreras and Sturtze, the Yanks have now dropped two straight with Lieber and Vazquez on the mound. Hopefully, the bats show up later this afternoon for the rookie Halsey against wack-ass Hideo Nomo, otherwise it could be a long fuggin weekend for us Yankee fans.

Finally, the Yankees moved Mr. Porno star, Gabe White, cash and a player to be named later to the Reds for a minor league southpaw.

Diamondbacks 6, Yanks 1

Stifle Edit’ willya, hah?

Knuckerballer Steve Sparks had his best outing in a long while and vexed the Yankee offense for seven innings, scattering three hits and allowing just one run. Jorge Posada missed a sign in the second inning and was promptly caught stealing, which killed a possible rally. Sparks got a lot of easy pop flys and weak ground balls. Steve Finely later robbed Posada of a sure double in the deep center and Danny Bautista tracked down two well-hit balls by Derek Jeter to aid Sparks. Bernie Williams lead-off the game with a single, Jon Lieber added a base hit and Alex Rodriguez crushed a knuckler that didn’t knuckle deep into the left field stands for the Yankees’ lone run (Rodriguez has now reached base in 53 straight games).

Jon Lieber pitched well. After allowing a run in the first–thanks if part to some poor defense by Jason Giambi, who was clumsy in the field all evening–Lieber worked efficiently and quickly. He escaped a jam in the fifth, thanks in part to an interference call on Arizona’s lead off man, which prompted a Bob Brenly to come out and argue.

With the game tied at one, Lieber allowed a solo homer in the seventh and then a run scoring double in the eighth before he was removed. Felix Heredia walked the only batter he faced, and then Brett Prinz gave up a couple of run-scoring hits to put the game out of reach. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Enrique Wilson singled and Ruben Sierra pinch hit for Prinz. He checked his swing with two strikes before eventually flying out to end the game. Brenly, still smarting from the interference call I suppose, went batshit. Even when the Diamondbacks walked onto the field to congradulate each other, Brenly was fired up, going after the home plate ump. Hey Bob, y’all just won the game: Lighten up, Francis.

It was a frustrating evening for New York as they lost a game they had a good opportunity to win. The Yanks lead over Boston was reduced to four-and-a-half games after Derek Lowe and co. shut out the Rockies 11-0. (For an entertaining look at the state of the Sox, check out my man Edward Cossette’s post today.) The Sox head to San Francisco for the weekend (Pedro vs. Barry Saturday afternoon), while the Yanks shuffle off to Los Angeles. (Willie Randolph still remembers that misbegotten ’81 Serious too.) Former Yankee Jeff Weaver will face Javier Vazquez tonight; the rookie Brad Halsey makes his debut against Hideo Nomo tomorrow afternoon and Jose Contreras will pitch against Jose Lima on the Sunday Night Game of the Week.

For the Dodger perspective, be sure and keep up with Jon Weisman’s coverage over at Dodger Thoughts. Jon will be at Dodger Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday he gave a quick rundown on the state of the team:

Saturday could be ugly because Hideo is pitching for us. You guys luck out by missing Odalis Perez, who’s been hot. Weaver against the Yankees should get a lot of attention, huh?

The thing with the Dodgers we’ve been talking about lately is how they’re a bunch of singles hitters without a lot of power. Green has one HR since May 8 – his batting average is rising but that’s about it. On the upside, the Cora-Izturis combo has become one of the best in the league – improving on offense and dazzling on defense. Dave Roberts has had a good OBP and has about a 96 percent stolen base success rate. I still love Beltre this year, even though his leg is hurting him – not many third basemen in baseball have more than 30 homers in the past calendar year. And we’ve had some help on the bench – much of the team’s power actually comes from guys like Jose Hernandez, Olmedo Saenz, Jayson Werth (a big guy!) and Jason Grabowski.

I do think that as long as the Dodgers win one out of three, we’ll look at it as a success.

That’s funny. Without getting too cocky, I’d look at the Yankees losing two of three as a disapointment.

Yankees 9, Babybacks 4


Bernie Williams lead off the game last night with a home run, and the Yankees scored four runs in the first inning. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez–who has now reached base in 52 consecutive games–added homers as the Bombers provided Tanyon Sturtze with all the support he would need. Again, it wasn’t necessarily easy or pretty for Sturtze, but the Yankees will take it. Posada, Sheffield, Matsui and Giambi all contributed offensively, and the Diamondbacks helped them out by kicking the ball around more than somewhat. Rodriguez also contributed with the leather. According to Tyler Kepner in the Times:

The first four Arizona hitters reached base in [the third] inning, pushing across two runs and putting runners at the corners for Tracy. The Yankees’ lead was down to 5-2, and Sturtze fell behind in the count, 2-0. Tracy hit a foul ball toward the third-base stands, and it sank fast. Rodriguez charged after it, snaring it backhanded and hitting the railing hard with his hip.

Rodriguez puffed his cheeks, flipped off his glove and squatted, clearly in pain, but he waved off any help and stayed in the game. It was a breather for Sturtze, and after Cintron singled in a run, Doug DeVore grounded into an inning-ending double play.

New York has now won four straight and are five-and-a half games in front of Boston who came up short in Colorado (Curt Schilling took the “L” in Trot Nixon’s first game back with the Sox).

Scene of the Crime

We all know what happened the last time the Yankees played in Arizona. The last time the Bombers played in Los Angeles wasn’t too much fun either. Murray Chass has a piece about Boss Steinbrenner’s infamous elevator ride during the 1981 World Serious, which the Yankees lost in six games. I was ten years old that year, my parents were in the process of getting divorced, and I shed many tears after the Yankees blew a 2-0 lead to the Dodgers. Jay Jaffe, an avid L.A. fan in those years, probably remembers it differently, especially after the Dodgers fell to the Yanks in 1977 and ’78 (which must have been especially painful).

Yanks 4, Diamondbacks 2

Emily and I had to be up early this morning, so I only caught the first inning of last night’s game. Jose Contreras plunked Danny Bautista in the noggin and impressively, didn’t melt down on the spot. I was determined to wait until I saw the morning papers to find out who won. This meant controlling myself both times I woke up to pee in the middle of the night, as well as checking the TV early this morning. I love the suspense of waiting until I get to the newsstand and flip the tabloids over. As you can imagine, I was happy to learn that the Yanks had won while Boston fell to the Rockies in Colorado (the Yankees are now 20 games over .500 and they lead the Sox by four-and-a-half games).

Cliff Corcoran stayed up and so did Steve Bonner. Peep their reports, forthwith. Bernie Williams (leading off again), Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield all had three hits. Alex Rodriguez singled and walked and has now reached base in 51 straight games. The Bombers left a ton of men on base, but scored just enough to win. Contreras pitched well enough, while Flash Gordon and Mariano Rivera nailed down the win.

Kevin Brown was put on the DL but should be ready to pitch against the Mets in a few weeks.

Hey, and not for nothing, but what’s up with the Times running a lengthy profile on Curt Schilling this morning? I can understand when Jack Curry was dispatched to cover the return of Nomar Garciaparra, and I can even understand why they would run a piece on Schilling, but why now? Maybe when the Yanks play the Sox again in a few weeks. Do New Yorkers really want to know about Schilling that badly? Or does it have something to do with the fact that the Times is a minority owner in the Red Sox? I don’t get it.

Meeting of the Minds

I had another good time with the baseball nerds on Saturday afternoon. Mike Carminati was the first to show up (a few of us met up an hour before the book signing at the Coliseum and settled across the street in Bryant Park, directly behind the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd street between 5th and 6th avenues). Mike is teddy bear of a guy, a top-heavy dad of two in his late thirties. Mike has a pronounced chin and a warm smile. He looks as if he could be related to Joe Torre. He is engaging and easy to talk with.

Alex Ciepley soon joined us. Alex looks like a young Alec Guiness. He’s got smiling eyes, and seems to be in a constant state of amusement. Jay Jaffe (Robin Ventura with black-rimmed glasses) found us in the park and the four of us had a good time chatting. It was a brilliantly sunny day; the park was gearing up for a concert that night, sound-check and all. Jay got a call from Steve Goldman and Chris Karhl who were tied up in traffic and running late.

As 6:00 rolled around, we headed over to the bookstore. The first speaker, a con artist named Dan Schlossberg, was hawking his recent book on the world champion Marlins. Cliff Corcoran, who showed up shortly after us, leaned over to me and said that Schlossberg was a dead-ringer for Bob Balaban. Not a bad call, though this zhlub had a rounder face. Schlossberg spoke rapidly and patrionizingly at his audience, not to us. With his shirt collar exposing a gold Jewish star, Schlossberg had the greaseball charm of one of the salesmen from “Tin Men” or “Glengary Glen Ross.” There was a group of us who were squirming in our chairs, shooting clandestine looks, like we were kids in high school. Not one for a fight, I quickly tuned Schlossberg out. But Mike C, who was fidgeting and shifting in his seat like a kettle ready to boil over, could not. Mike is not the sort who suffers fools lightly, and soon enough, he was challenging Schlossberg.

That was good for some private laughs, but I couldn’t take much more of this guy, so I excused myself and poked my head around the cook books until Kahrl and Goldman showed up. They arrived before long, both wearing black. For those who don’t know, Kahrl–BP’s most sardonic wit–is a woman who used to be a man (she’s the sabermetric Dorothy Parker). She has a broad face like a man, but fine features like a woman. We were sitting across the room from the podium, where Chris’ feminine features–thin, raised eyebrows and think lips–were accentuated. Did she look like a cross between Christopher Reeves and David Bowie? No, that wasn’t quite it. She had the look of a Hollywood starlet from the 30s or 40s. Paulette Goddard came to mind.

Chris spoke in a low, husky voice which sounded male, but her body language and facial expressions were decidedly female. She rolled and flitted her eyes, like a teenager. Both Kahrl and Goldman wore black in honor of the late Doug Pappas. Karhl spoke first and eloquenly eulogized her friend. It was difficult for me to hear her at first. Her voice was muffed and she spoke softly into her chin. But her words were poignant and moving.

I have to admit, the scene was right out of a David Lynch movie. There we were, a small, clannish group of baseball freaks listening to Kahrl talk about the finer points of advanced statistical analysis. Talk about off the beaten path. Especially after the comedy provided by our first speaker, it was a sight to see! Kahrl hinted at the recent changes in her life–once with regards to how Pappas had supported her from jump, and another time when answering a question about whether she would be interested in working for a major league team–but didn’t talk about it directly. Personally, I was impressed that she had the courage to talk about it all. (After the signing was over, I was introduced to Chris briefly. Her features were more blunt up-close, and she was friendly and warm, a very cool lady.) But as she spoke, I scanned the room and wondered what the audience made of her. Of course, I have no way of knowing what they were thinking, but I didn’t catch any funny or screw-faced looks. Frankly, I think they were too interested in what she was saying, not what she looked like. When a group of us huddled outside of the store later on, there was no tension at all, and Chris spoke to an audience that was hanging on her every word.

Goldman, far more at ease with public speaking, was as aimable and charming as ever. I actually missed hearing Steven speak at the Prospectus feed earlier this spring, and was grateful to see him in action on Saturday. I still haven’t spent more than five minutes talking to Goldman, but am more impressed with him each time I see him.

I had to break out shortly after the signing was over to attend my cousin’s birthday party. But it was great to talk with hardcore baseball fans like Darren (aka Repoz)–who told me stories about growing up with the Mike Burke Yankees, and Jon Daly, a Red Sox fan, who is a keen student of baseball history. Jay, Cliff, Chris, Alex and Steven all went out for eats and drinks and hours of more baseball talk. Next time, I hope to stick around longer. My only complaint is that there was Derek Jacques was nowhere to be found. Groucho once said that he wouldn’t want to belong to any kind of club that would have someone like him for a member, but I’d happily sport my baseball nerd club card anywhere, anytime.

Two For the Road

The Yankees beat the Padres 3-2, in a taut game on Saturday afternoon and then won again in dramatic fashion on Sunday, 6-5 in twelve innings. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t watch Saturday’s game. I was hanging, talking baseball with the likes of Mike Carminati, Jay Jaffe and Alex Ciepley. When the BP/PB book talk was over, and a group of guys headed east on 42nd street to find a place to eat, Steve Goldman informed Cliff Corcoran and me that the Yanks had won. A block later, we spotted the scores on the hood of a taxi cab. Not only had the Yankees won, but the Dodgers beat the snot out of the Red Sox to boot.

I did cave in and ask Em to tape the game however. And when I got home late Saturday night, I watched the good parts. Gary Sheffield had the game-winning hit, and the Yankees made several good defensive plays which proved to be the difference. Jon Lieber gave up a ton of hits, but managed to work out of trouble all day long.

I headed out to the Stadium just before noon on Sunday afternoon. On the subway, I encountered a brood on their way down to the Puerto Rican day parade. I wished them a good time and was met with indifference. But I made eye-contact with a boy, wearing a tank-top with a Puerto Rican flag on it, and said “What’s up?” We talked baseball until I had to transfer. The kid’s name was Michael. He’s ten years old and has been to three Yankee games in his life. I shared with him how much I love the Yanks, and showed him my scorebook. We had a great chat, no matter how unfriendly the rest of his family was.

As I was waiting on the 145th street platform to catch the D train, I spotted a pair of Japanese guys and couldn’t resist approaching them. The guys were a few years older than me, and have followed Hideki Matsui since he was in high school. This was their first trip to Yankee stadium. Well, that was all I had to hear, and I proceeded to give them my 20-minute introduction to the stadium, the team, and everything New York. Both guys spoke English well, and I happily played host.

It was a warm day in the Bronx, but by the middle of the afternoon, it was mercifully overcast and breezy. Jay Jaffe and I watched the game together. Both David Wells and Javier Vazquez were both excellent. Wells pitched seven innings and left with a 2-0 lead. Actually, the Yankees were down to their last out before they made it a contest. Trevor Hoffman, the Padres’ great closer, had retired the first two men in the bottom of the ninth. Then Godziller Matsui hit a bomb deep into the right-field bleachers. Kenny Lofton then pinch-hit for Tony Clark. I wasn’t ready to get too excited yet. “He’s got to hit a home run,” is what I was thinking. And on a 2-1 pitch, he did just that; a line drive into the right field seats.

Good gosh, is this team charmed or what? The Padres came back and touched Brett Prinz (who pitched out of a jam on Saturday) and Felix Heredia for three runs in the top of the 12th. Have no fear though. The Yanks put together an assembly-line rally in the bottom of the frame and scored four runs to steal the victory. Fittingly, Boriqua Ruben Sierra had the game-winning RBI. Jay and I were exhausted and elated. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez has now reached base in 50 straight games.

For a look at the San Diego side of things, head on over to Duck Snorts for the skinny.

The Red Sox beat L.A. last night to remain three-and-a-half back. These were two crucial victories for the Yanks, as they head to Arizona and Los Angeles this week with a patchwork pitching staff. Tanyon Sturtze and Jose Contreras will pitch in Arizona and a mystery pitcher will get a turn in L.A. In addition, Mariano Rivera was unavailable yesterday due to tightness in his back. He expects to be fine on Tuesday night.

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