"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: September 2004

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Yanks Swipe Two From Twinkies, Pedro Pounded

And Then There Was One

I climbed into a reclining chair at my dentist’s office on 57th street in Manhattan yesterday just minutes before the first game of the Yankees-Twins double-header. Looking up, I noticed a TV. So while I was having a cavity-filled and my teeth cleaned I watched the first five innings of the game. Man, dentistry has come a long way. Getting a cavity filled doesn’t involve the kind of messy drilling that I remember as a kid. But while the immediate events in my mouth weren’t nearly as uncomfortable as I had anticipated, the Twins drilled Mike Mussina around for three first inning runs. And though Johan Santana was clearly not going to pitch a full-length game, three runs is an awful lot to spot the probable AL Cy Young.

But Derek Jeter lead off the bottom of the first with a double and he scored on a single by Gary Sheffield. Maybe Santana was human after all. Hardly. The Twins’ southpaw allowed two base-runners in the second and then got out of trouble by striking his way out of the inning. Man, even when he was handling my team, there is something to be said about watching a dominant pitcher at work. The second time Jorge Posada was up, he swung through two high fastballs. So I figure that Posada has to be sitting on the change, or Santana’s nasty slider, which dives down and in to righties. But instead, Santana threw two more fastballs. They were both out of the zone. He’s got to come with the soft stuff, right? Nah, he blew Jorge away with a fastball on the outside corner. Man, you’ve just got to guess right and hope that he makes some mistakes in order to beat a guy like Santana right now.

Mussina wasn’t elegant, issuing walks and allowing hits, but he didn’t allow anymore runs to score. I watched the first five innings, and endured some kind of lecture from Maria, a portly, plantain-eating chaza, who cleaned my teeth, about the art of flossing. I smiled at her, half of my face still numb from the novacaine, when she handed me a complementary tooth brush. “You look just like Mike Gilbert,” she tells me. I had never heard that one before. “Oh yeah, who is Mike Gilbert?” “He’s a friend of my son’s. He’s a sheriff you know.” Sheriff Mike Gilbert? Jeez, no, Maria, I did not know that.

Unable to eat anything solid, I headed to the best Jewish deli in my neighborhood for some matzo ball soup. The mexicans working behind the counter had the game on the radio. “What’s the score?” I asked. “5-3…Yankees.” Really? “Did they get the runs off Santana?” “No, the bullpen.” Okay, the sky isn’t falling for the Twins faithful. I got my soup, and walked into my apartment as the Yankees ended the game with a 6-4-3–nice pick Tony Clark–double play.

Emily and I watched Game Two together. Hideki Matsui hit a three-run dinger to the opposite field in the first inning, his second long ball of the day, and 30th on the season. Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot later on, and the Yanks held on for a 5-4 win. The story of the game for New York was Tanyon Sturtze’s performance, one and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball. Perhaps they’ve found a cure for what ails Paul Quantrill. The game ended on a double play, and Mariano Rivera had his second save of the afternoon, his 53rd on the year.

The night ended on a high note for New York and a low one for the Red Sox, who were thumped by the Devil Rays. Pedro Martinez was roughed up again and has now lost four-consecutive games, the first time that has ever happened to him in his career. With Boston now four games behind the Yanks, New York needs just one more win, or a Red Sox loss to secure the division title for the seventh straight year.

It was a good day for the Yankees and their fans. But leave it to Selena Roberts, she of the Mike Lupica-No-Joy-In-Yankeeville-School-of-Thought, to rain on the parade. The kindest way for me to characterize Roberts, a columnist for the Times, is as a dilettante. Today, she writes that these Yankees are just no fun. They are dour professionals who have had all of the fun squeezed out of them by the high expectations that come with playing for George Steinbrenner. Haven’t we heard this before? This isn’t Paul O’Neill’s Yankees anymore. Okay, we get it. Get over it. But noooo, Roberts wants to know why the Yanks can’t be more like the Twins or the Red Sox. Believe that. I don’t know, why can’t the English learn to speak?

You’d think that there is nothing more that writers like Roberts would like than to see the Red Sox win. Or anybody else but the Yanks win. If the Yanks do manage to win the Serious, this line-of-thinking would have little merit. We already know what Roberts and Lupica and the like will say if the Yankees lose. Meanwhile, if the Yankees win one more game, it will be the first time in the organization’s storied history that they’ll have won 100 games, three years in a row. There are plenty of good stories on this team. Even if Steinbrenner and a decent portion of Yankee fans dismiss the season as a failure should they fail to reach and/or win the World Serious, that shouldn’t prevent sportswriters from coming up with a new angle. But that would require some thought. Ah, I suppose it’s easier to rip the team. Remember, this is coming from the New York Times. The home town paper. Oy veh.

Who is Gunna Carry the Weight?

The Yanks and Twins were rained out yesterday and will play two today. However, even if the weather held up, El Duque wasn’t going to start as scheduled. He’s suffering from a sore shoulder. Ah, just in the nick of time. I’m guessing that he’ll be okay but it’s just one more uncertainty for Yankee fans to worry about as the playoffs near. The Sox beat the D-Rays in extra innings last night and now trail the Bombers by two-and-a-half games.

Stretch Run

It’s a damp morning in New York with rain on the schedule for the rest of the day. Hopefully, it will clear up by tonight so the Yanks and Twins can get their game in. If not, I suppose they’ll play two tomorrow. While Minnie is in town be sure and check out some of the fine people from the Twinkies-blogging mafia: Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Seth Stohs and of course, the rookie of the year herself, Batgoil.

The local papers are filled with articles about the Yankees’ pitching woes. In the Times, Tyler Kepner reports:

No matter what team the Yankees play this time, this postseason staff is an enigma. Will Vazquez be included? Brown? In what order? When asked on Sunday if he had ever been less certain of his rotation on the eve of the playoffs, Stottlemyre said no.

“This is probably the least of the nine years I’ve been here, about how our pitching situation is going to line up,” he said. “I still think it will. I’m certainly not down on everybody. I still think it’ll align itself here in the last week. I still think we’ll be very competitive in the postseason with our pitching.”

It has been months since Vazquez and Brown have looked consistently strong. Scouts have suggested a variety of mechanical flaws nagging Vazquez, including a lower arm angle and awkward landing position on the mound. Brown, essentially, threw batting practice to the Red Sox on Sunday, offering high fastballs with no movement at a velocity that did not exceed 90 miles an hour.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay last night and clinched a spot in the playoffs. They remain three games behind the Yankees in the loss column with six games to play.

Red Sox 11, Yanks 4

Until We Meet Again…

Curt Schilling dominated the Yankees yesterday while Kevin Brown didn’t make it out of the first inning. According to Jack Curry:

The Red Sox made Brown look old, awful and unreliable. Brown’s velocity never touched 90 miles an hour, his sinking fastballs were fat, high pitches and – as he searched in futility for the right feel on the ball – he licked his fingers more than a 5-year-old licks an ice cream cone.

After the game, Brown told the Times:

“The stuff I was throwing out there today, I wouldn’t say it’s a whole lot different than what I was throwing before I hurt my hand,” Brown said. “Why do you think I was frustrated to begin with? Why do you think I got irritated enough about the way things were going to hit something like that?

“It wasn’t because I was mad at the pizza guy because he didn’t deliver the pizza on time. I was irritated with the way I was throwing the ball or not throwing the ball. It was a similar situation today.

“The difference is, I guess, having three weeks to think about it, I’ve realized that I’m trying to control things I can’t control.”

Esteban Loaiza replaced Brown and the Sox bombed him too. It was a fun afternoon for the Fenway faithful and a forgettable one for the Yankees. There was some minor mishegoss between Kenny Lofton and Doug Doug Mientkiewicz which eventually led to batters being thrown at and a couple of ejections. Without getting too involved in the particulars, Suzyan Waldman of the YES network called Lofton a “baby” on her post-game report. She ripped him but good actually.

At the begining of the season I was really down on Lofton being a Yankee, but I warmed up to him seeing him laugh and jive it up in the dugout this year. However, it’s clear by Mariano Rivera‘s animated reaction to Lofton a couple of weeks ago, and even Waldman’s brief tirade yesterday that Lofton isn’t the most popular man in the Yankee clubhouse.

No matter. Along with the disgruntled utility infielder Enrique Wilson, Lofton will likely not be in pinstripes next year. Right now, the Yankees hold a three game advantage over Boston in the loss column with six games remaining in the regular season (seven for the Sox). The Bombers are still the favorites to win the division. They have today off, while the Sox face Tampa Bay. The Twins come to town for a three-game series starting tomorrow night.

So, it appears as if Mike Mussina, El Duque and Jon Lieber will start for New York in the playoffs. What then, to do with Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown? Does Vazquez pitch a game four? Can Brown be effective out of the bullpen? Should he get a start himself? Which one of these? Thoughts? What do you guys think?

Red Sox 12, Yanks 5

Staff Infection

I watched Saturday night’s game with Cliff Corcoran. In the eighth inning when Boston cranked out seven runs against the Yankees’ weak bullpen corps, Cliff said, “The Yankees are playing this game like they are the Red Sox. I didn’t have much hope of them winning tonight, but then they made it close, only to have a few things go wrong late”

Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

De Ja Vu All Over Again, Daddy-O

The Yankees and Red Sox played characteristically tense game at Fenway Park last night, one that was filled with home runs, lead-changes, clutch hits, a couple of blown calls, and some excellent fielding (Matsui, Rodriguez, Mueller, Nixon and especially Caberera). The Red Sox hit three home runs (Ramirez and Nixon off of Mussina, Damon off of Gordon) and Pedro Martinez had a one-run lead going into the eighth inning. But the lead didn’t last long as Hideki Matsui hit a solo shot into Boston’s bullpen to tie the game (Godziller, who has mashed against Boston this year, was the star of the game for the Bombers). Martinez remained in the game and allowed a soft double to Bernie Williams on a 3-2 pitch that hugged just inside the right-field line. Ruben Sierra, 0-3 with two strikeouts to that point, drove Bernie home but hitting a very tough pitch into center.

The Yankees would score an insurance run and though Mariano Rivera walked Trot Nixon to start the ninth, he was bailed out when Jason Varitek grounded into a 1-6-3 double play. Orlando Cabrera reached second on a bloop double to right and Bill Mueller grounded out sharply to Rivera to end the game. Mariano was not especially sharp, but his deft fielding ability helped him earn his 51rst save of the year, a career high. Flash Gordon pitched the seventh and eighth innings and allowed the solo homer to Damon, but pitched brilliantly otherwise.

The win puts the Yankees five-and-a-half games ahead of Boston. It was another discouraging loss for Martinez against New York, arguably more painful than last weekend’s torching in the Bronx. Boston manager Terry Francona was booed when he finally removed Martinez from the game, shades of Grady Little indeed (sportswriters, start your laptops). The Red Sox have all but conceded the division title to New York and now are looking to the playoffs. They know that the wildcard team has won the World Serious for the past two years and they are keeping their eyes on the prize.

But perhaps the strangest post-game development were the comments made by Martinez:

“I wish they would [bleeping] disappear,” the three-time Cy Young Award winner said. “Disappear, and never come back.

“I would probably like to face any other team right now. Pitch a good game, make good pitches and still can’t beat them? It’s frustrating.”

… “I thought I pitched a better game today, I made some pretty good pitches and they battled their butt off,” Martinez said. “What can I say? Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddies.”

… “I wanted to bury myself on the mound. . . . You work so hard, you make good pitches, it doesn’t pay off. You make bad pitches, you continue to lose and give it up. It’s stupid, it’s frustrating.” [N.Y.Post]

Calling the Yankees his dadies? Is this some kind of reverse psychology? I don’t think so, but it sure is a tabloid’s wet dream. While I love it when the Yankees beat Pedro Martinez, I take no pleasure in hearing him sound so shaken. What’s so satisfying when the Yankees pull out a win against him is that he’s such a fierce, defiant, incorrigible competitor. To hear him sound so defeated just doesn’t seem right.

Comedy is Not Pretty

I’ve got an article on ten rap records that are worth revisiting over at The New Partisan. Check it out if you like that sort of thing.

Also, I’ve been thinking about coming up with a list of the best comedy records of all-time. I listened to comedy records often when I was growing up, my favorite artists being George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Woody Allen and later on, Richard Pryor, Albert Brooks and Lenny Bruce. I liked stuff by Nichols and May, Bob Newhart, Monty Python, The Goon Show, Peter Sellers, Derek and Clive, Robin Williams, Franklyn Ajaye, Steven Wright, Lily Tomlin, Bob and Doug McKenzie and Rodney Dangerfield too. I know I’m missing some other good ones, but that’s what I can come up with off-the-top of my head.

If I had to come up with a list of the best records I know of it would look something like this (in no particular order):

Bill Cosby: “Wonderfulness,” “Revenge” and “To Russell, My Brother Whom I Slept With.”

Richard Pryor: “That Nigger’s Crazy,” “Is it Something I Said?” and “Wanted: Live in Concert.”

George Carlin: “AM/FM,” “Class Clown” and “Occupation: Foole.” These three records were compiled into a two-disk set. I highly recommend them.

Steve Martin: “Let’s Get Small,” and “Wild and Crazy Guy.”

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner: “The 2000 Year Old Man” and “The 2013 Year Old Man.”

Lenny Bruce: His first four albums which are collected on cd on “The Lenny Bruce Originals Vol 1 and 2″ and the uncut “Carneige Hall Concert.”

Eddie Murphy: The first one, self-titled, and “Comedian.”

Close Enough For You?

Joel Sherman has an article about the Yankee-Sox rivalry today. He notes that since the start of the 2003 season–and including last year’s playoffs–the Yanks and Sox are 21-21 against each other. In order to catch the Yankees and win the AL East, Boston needs to sweep New York this weekend. Regardless, the bottom line is which team lasts longer in the post-season, right?

Chops

The Yankee rookies dressed up like Elvis after the game yesterday. Not bad, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the sight of Pimpzilla last year.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

There was a good piece on Alex Rodriguez and clutch hitting by a guy named Darren Everson in the Daily News this past Tuedsay. Don’t know if anyone caught it. But it was on-point. It seems that Reggie Jackson isn’t a huge Rodriguez fan yet:

“Great clutch players don’t get questioned,” Reggie Jackson said before last night’s 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays. “They don’t question (Mariano) Rivera. Or (Bob) Gibson. Or Whitey (Ford). The great clutch players of the past, you saw enough, you viewed enough, you witnessed enough that I don’t need statistics.”

Everson talks about the perception that many of Rodriguez’s dingers come in garbage time:

A closer examination reveals otherwise. It shows, among other things, that 17 of Rodriguez’s homers have either tied a game or put the Yankees ahead – one more than Gary Sheffield. Sheffield, universally regarded as an MVP candidate, has hit 10 home runs in the seventh inning or later this season. A-Rod, the defending AL MVP who has hardly been mentioned in connection with the award this year, has hit nine.

Nice observations by Everson.

Once Again (Ladies and Gentleman)

One thing I’ve learned about myself since I’ve been writing about baseball is that I don’t have a lot of patience. I like to think that I do, but I don’t. It’s easy to be impatient. The Internet provides almost instant information. How can you be calm, and forgiving in the world of Gameday and Instant Messaging? What’s unnatural about this is that baseball is a game that requires patience. For players and fans alike.

It’s easy to see why young ballplayers lack patience. They hit a snag, start to struggle and they can lose their confidence. In yesterday’s game at the stadium, many of the Devil Rays players looked as if they had a bus to catch. They made careless errors and had horrible at-bats. It’s as if they want the season to end last week. On the other hand, veteran players know how to weather difficult times, mentally and emotionally.

Take Bernie Williams, for example. Williams is clearly in the twilight of his career. He doesn’t hit for average anymore and doesn’t have much power either. But he scored his 100th run of the season yesterday because he still has enough patience to work walks and get on base. Not bad for an old man on his way out, huh? Of course, it helps to play with an impressive offensive team. Look at Mike Piazza. His numbers would look respectable too if he were on a good team.

Anyhow, I know that I appreciate Bernie’s accomplishment. I also stand duly impressed with Greg Maddux winning his 15th game yesterday. He’s now won at least 15 games in 17 straight years. At the begining of the year, I did a rountable preview for the Yankees season and one of the questions was weather or not Mike Mussina would finally win twenty games this season. One thing many of the writers said was that he’d win 15 falling out of bed. Which got me to thinking just how difficult it is to win 15 games on a year-in, year-out basis. Or course, you have to stay healthy, be lucky, and have a good offense, but still, it’s not so easy as Mussina has found out in 2004. Maddux is the man.

The Yankees clinced a playoff spot for the 10th consecutive season yesterday with their 7-3 win over the Rays at the stadium. It was a soporific, late-afternoon affair. Again, Tampa looked as if it would have rather been somewhere else. The Red Sox rallied, but fell short against the Orioles last night. The Yanks head to Boston leading the east by four-and-a-half games.

We’ll Be Back…

I want to apologize for posting so infrequently this week, but what with taking a week off from work–actually, I’ll be back at the office tomorrow–it’s been hard to keep to my regular schedule. Instead, I’ve been working on the Curt Flood book, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Last night I visited my friend Alan out in Maplewood, New Jersey. We were up til the wee hours of the morning in his basement studio, transfering vinyl to cd, and listening to a wide variety of records–everything from Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin to Special Ed and Third Base to Duke Ellington and George Carlin. We caught portions of the Yankee game on the car radio, and some more at the Outback Steakhouse. It was my first trip to an Outback joint, and most likely, the last too. Anyhow, the company was good, even if the food was frightening.

El Duque finally took an “L” and the Sox beat those pesky O’s in extra innings. Boston is now three-and-a-half back. The Yanks are gearing up to play an afternoon game against the Devil Rays shortly. I’ll be back in the regular swing of things soon enough. In the meantime, guys like Cliff Corcoran, Steve Bonner and Larry Mahnken–all linked in the Yankee section to the right–have been holding down the fort. Oh, and Jay Jaffe has posted the third installment of his fantastic Gary Sheffield series. Don’t miss it.

Yanks 5, Blue Jays 2

Both the Yanks and Sox lost on Monday night. Emily and I watched the last half of the Boston game up at her folks place in Vermont. Jeez, I think I’ve created a monster. She was cursing Boston pretty good throughout the game.

I arrived back in the Bronx last night around the seventh inning and saw the Bombers defeat Toronto. I also caught the updates and highlights of Boston’s dramatic win against the Orioles. When all was said and done, the Yanks are still four-and-a-half games up.

Esteban Loiaza earned his first victory since he was traded to New York, which also happens to be the 100th win of his career. Roy Halladay, making his first start in a long while, seemingly gave up a home run to Alex Rodriguez in the first. But Vernon Wells timed his leap beautifully and robbed Rodriguez of his 36th dinger of the year. Gary Sheffield, who missed Monday’s game after receiving two cortisone shots in his ailing left shoulder, followed and planted one in the left field upper deck, safely out of Gabe Gross’s reach. Jason Giambi later hit a two-run homer to left-center, his first hit since returning from the DL.

El Duque and Ted Lilly square off tonight. If I’m not mistaken, it’ll be the fourth time they’ve matched up this year. Should be a good one.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s gloomy and pouring in the Bronx at 7:30 on Saturday morning. Em and I are packing up and getting ready to head off to Vermont. I wonder if they’ll be able to get a game in today. If not, they’ll play two tomorrow. However, if they do get the game in, anyone who wants to drop by and leave their impressions, I know I sure would appreciate it as I’m most likely going to miss the whole thing.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Red Sox 3, Yankees 2

Down 2-1 in the ninth inning, the Red Sox scored two runs off Mariano Rivera to beat the Yanks, 3-2. It was an exciting game. Early on, Manny Ramirez hit a home run which was over-ruled and called a foul. There were two rain delays. Later, Ramirez robbed Miguel Cairo of a homer, making a sensational catch. Cairo, unaware that he was out, circled the bases as if the homer was good. It was a great catch. Manny looked back at Arroyo and pointed both fingers at him. Cairo looked on in disbelief. It was hard not to smile over that one. Good gosh.
Johnny Damon and John Olerud hit solo dingers. Tanyon Sturtze pitched tremendously in relief on El Duque; Bronson Arroyo was very good himself. Flash Gordon got four outs, including the heart of the Sox order in the eighth. But Rivera walked Trot Nixon to start the ninth, and it didn’t get much better from there. Rivera looked rattled by Dave Roberts–pinch-running for Nixon, and fell behind virtually every batter. Johnny Damon had the game-winning hit, a bloop single to center, which was a catchable ball. When the ball fell in, Rivera, uncharacteristically looked displeased with his fielders. Earlier in the game, Derek Jeter argued with the home plate ump after being called out on strikes to end an inning.

Perhaps the Yankees are feeling the pressure. The carefree Sox come in and swipe a game from Rivera and the Yanks and now trail New York by two-and-a-half games. It was a terrific win for Boston and a disheartening loss for the Yanks. The pressure is on Jon Lieber tomorrow what with Pedro looming on Sunday.

Shoot.

Friday Night in the Bronx

Here goes one of those, what you call, open-threads. Anyonw who wants to chims in during the game tonight, feel free. Just try and keep it civil. (By the way, the Sox-Yankee exchanges this week have been great. Thanks.) Enjoy…at least some of us will.

Serious

Is everyone amped for the Yankee-Sox serious this weekend? I know Red Sox Nation sure is. The players on both sides are. The local papers are replete with hype today. New York Times columnist William Rhoden is bored of the same ol-Yankees win storyline. So he’s openly pulling for the Sox. Gimme a break, brother. So sorry you’re bored. What paper do you work for again? Ahhh, it’s not even worth getting worked up about.

El Duque will pitch tonight so long as the weather holds up. He hasn’t lost yet. Will the Sox have his number? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? I’m heading up to Vermont tomorrow to visit Emily’s folks for a few days, so I’ll be smack dab in the heart of the Nation for this one. In order to overtake the Bombers I’d say that Boston needs to win 5-6 over the next two weekends. While these games should be characteristically tense and dramatic, I won’t be overly excited should the Yankees win 4-6, just relieved. After all, this is just a warm-up for the playoffs. (If the Yanks sweep Boston but lose to them in the playoffs, think anyone will remember these games? Stay in the moment, dude, stay in the moment.) Then again, every Yankee-Sox series is played as if the fate of the modern world were at stake.

To quote Chuck D, “Don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel.” Enjoy the mishegoss. May the best team win.

Yankees 3, Royals 0

Javier Vazquez threw a nice game and the Yankees shut out Kansas City for the second straight game. Derek Jeter was the offensive star for New York. I missed the game, but Emily had an off-day and was around the house. I knew that the Yankees had a three-run lead going into the eighth but when I got home last night I didn’t know the final score. After kissing Em hello, I asked her how the game went?

“Javey was really good. He was throwing a lot of balls and they weren’t swinging at them. Cecil Turtle [Tony Clark] hit a home run onto the grass by the water and it stayed there for the rest of the game. Giambi struck out a lot.”

“Did we win?”

“I don’t know. I got distracted cleaning my closet.”

“You don’t know who won?!?!?”

Jeter had a good game.”

Right. We’ve been monitoring Jeter’s decline in on-base percentage for the past few months–Steven Goldman provides the numbers in his latest “Pinstriped Bible”; at the same time, Jeter has hit for more power than he has since his superstar 1999 campaign. Tyler Kepner notes in the Times:

With two doubles and a homer, Jeter has 62 extra-base hits, approaching his career high of 70 in 1999. He has 40 doubles, a career high, and 21 homers, 3 fewer than his best.

It’s been an interesting season for the Yankee captain. Oh, and just to follow up on a comment I made yesterday about how much Jeter enjoys himself, the headline for the Times piece today reads, “Jeter Is Having Fun When the Games Mean the Most.” Amen.

Boston won last night to remain four back (three in the loss column). The hype machine has already begun for the weekend series in New York. This rivalry feels more like the WWF than baseball at times. So there will be some inflammatory quotes on both sides over the next week and a half, and the fans will be plenty worked up. But the biggest story of the weekend could very well be the weather. Who knows how many games they’ll get in?

Well, no matter what happens, at least we all know it won’t be dull.

Shut Em Down

Yankees 4, Royals 0

The Yankees got their first look at Zach Greinke tonight, and man, he was impressive. Greinke is a good-looking kid with blond hair. He looks more like a surfer or a skate board kid than a pitcher. (Actually, he reminds me a bit of a young Mark Langston.) A right-hander with a simple, direct motion, the ball comes out of Greinke’s hand easily. He is composed and cool on the mound, keeping his fastball down in the strike zone for the most part; the kid has an effective change up and a very nasty slow breaking ball. In the first inning, Greinke threw Jeter a full-count fastball and Jeter lined out sharply to short. Rodriguez followed and he saw the breaking ball on a full count, got way ahead of it, and popped out to left. The YES cameras showed Jeter in the dugout laughing at his pal. Say what you will about Jeter, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player of his caliber enjoy himself as much, or laugh and smile as much as he does.

Greinke and Mike Mussina engaged in a pitcher’s duel through the first five innings. They were both in control; Mussina was more efficient (he threw 97 pitches on the night). With two men out in the top of the fifth, Bernie Williams

That Time of Year Again

It’s about 45 minutes before the Yanks and Royals start tonight’s game. I’m at home in the Bronx and there is a distinct chill in the air. The temperature has cooled and it feels like the playoffs, man. You know how you used to associate the smells and sounds of spring with the end of the school year, anxiety about tests, and just wishing you could be outside, back when you were a kid? Well, these days Yankee fans can only think of one thing when the cooler autumn weather rolls around: their team will be in the playoffs. Of course there is a slight chance that they won’t make it this year, but let’s not dwell on the negative. The weather in New York City tonight reminded me of just how fortunate we’ve been

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