"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: July 2008

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A Giant Returns

He’s Back.

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This

Just received via email:

Dear Yankees Ticket Licensee,

We have reached another important milestone in our move from Yankee Stadium to the new Yankee Stadium across the street. Your Relocation Program Guide for the New Yankee Stadium (the “Guide”) is in the process of being printed and you can expect to receive your Guide in the near future. The Guide will outline the seat relocation program, explain the criteria to be used to assign seat locations, detail ticket prices and ticket license options, and serve as your introduction to the new Yankee Stadium.

I’m expecting a rude introduction as the Yankees Guide me out of the room. Anyone have a reason to think different?

Ray of Light

Ray Negron’s second book for children, The Greatest Story Never Told, was released a few days ago.  It’s an ideal gift if you’ve got a young Yankee fan in your life, especially one that has an interest in the history of the game. 

Negron was profiled in four-parts here at Bronx Banter earlier this year: One, Two, Three and Four

It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago Today


Jeez, twenty-five years ago?  Dag, I’m feeling old, man.


Come Around, Idiot, Come Around

I remember my father once asking me, “Do you know what the most difficult job on a baseball field is?” I went through all of the positions and he shook his head “no” at all of my suggestions. “The umpires, sweetie, have the toughest job.” I always thought that was funny coming from the old man, who had more than a slight problem with authority.

I think that one of the hardest gigs in baseball must be that of the third base coach. After all, nobody ever riffs about a first base coach or the bullpen coach. The bench coach never gets called out. But third base coaches are open game. Steve Goldman had a nice little piece about these brave souls a few days ago at BP. Check it out.

Coming Around the Bend

At New York Magazine, Will Leitch adds his two cents about the ailing Jorge Posada.

You think this is bad? Wait until it happens to the team’s other nineties icons. Rivera is defying time with another peerless season, but Derek Jeter is in the seventh year of the ten-year contract that makes him the second-highest paid player in baseball (behind A-Rod, of course.) But forget the oft-debated (but still plainly obvious) defensive liability; the “Face of Baseball” is having the worst offensive season of his career. (As much as Posada has struggled, he has still hit better than Jeter by almost any metric.) As long as the Yankees are still making the playoffs, Jeter might be able to slide by unnoticed, but if they fall short…well, are you ready for chants of “Bench Jeter”?

It’s hard to imagine Jeter aging gracefully isn’t it? And jeez, if Rodriguez starts to break-down, like Chipper Jones has for instance, it will get downright fugly.

What Cliff Said

Let Me Clear My Throat

With the trade deadline looming and a lot of silly rumors floating around, I have a few things to say:

1) The Yankees don’t need a relief pitcher, left-handed or otherwise. Brian Bruney should return from his rehab assignment soon to force LaTroy Hawkins off the roster, and if he’s not as good as he was in April, there’s more in triple-A where he came from. The Yankees trading for a relief pitcher would be like heating a house in the desert, a total waste of resources.

2) Getting Jarod Washburn in a salary dump would be a coup. Washburn has a 2.65 ERA in his last eight starts and has strong career numbers at Yankee Stadium (2.82 ERA), Fenway Park (3.60 ERA), and the Trop (1.89 ERA, which is impressive no matter how bad the Rays have been during his career). More recent versions of this rumor have the Yankees forcing Kei Igawa on the Mariners and the M’s countering with Jose Vidro. A great as it would be to be rid of Igawa, Vidro’s not worth it. His hitting rates this season are nearly an exact match for Jose Molina’s, except Vidro has had a hundred more at-bats. He’s as done as a player can be.

3) The Yankees biggest need is another bat. They’re a pitching-rich organization, and Cellophane Rasner and Groundhog Ponson can hold their own as fourth and fifth starters until the reinforcements are ready (which could include a healthy Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes). Next year’s rotation will be filled by Wang, Chamberlain, the free-agent market (possibly including one-year deals for Mussina and/or Pettitte), and emergent prospects (Hughes, Kennedy, McCutchen, Aceves). Rather, the Yankees’ big holes this offseason will be right field and at first base, only one of which is likely to be filled by free agency. More urgently, even with Abreu and Giambi still in place, the bottom of the order is Betemit/Sexson, Cabrera, Molina, which just won’t do. The price on Matt Holliday, who nearly won the NL MVP award last year, is likely too high, but Jason Bay, who had an off-year in 2007 due to knee problems and didn’t even make the All-Star team this year (though he should have) could be more reasonably priced and could even be the better player (Bay is Holliday’s second most similar player on Baseball-Reference, followed by Hideki Matsui who also makes Bay’s list, and is easily the better hitter on the road). Buying high on Xavier Nady, however, seems like a bad move. Nady is 29 and a career .281/.336/.455 hitter in the National League. That’s not nothing, but it’s not much more than league-average, and his career line in inter-league play is .224/.290/.388. Stay away.

4) Jorge Posada should get over himself and have his surgery now. Yes, the Yankees’ biggest need is a bat, even if it’s one that can only DH, but it seems doubtful that Posada will be able to hit for power without the surgery. Even more than that, the Yankees need Posada to be healthy, productive, and behind the plate five days a week starting on Opening Day 2009, so that they don’t find themselves in this position again next year. Any further delay on Jorge’s part is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Peter’s gonna be pissed when he finds out about it. Let Hideki Matsui be the guy playing Hamlet over his MRIs and get Posada under the knife pronto.

Glad I could get all that off my chest.

Movin’ On Up

The Yankees opened the second-half of the 2008 season by sweeping the Oakland A’s, passing them in the Wild Card standings as a result. With their 5-1 win over the Twins this afternoon, they’ve swept Minnesota and passed them in the Wild Card standings as well.

Today’s game was scoreless through four and a half innings and none of the five baserunners to that point got past first base. Robinson Cano became the first man to reach second in the bottom of the fifth when he and Melky Cabrera both singled with one out. Jose Molina then hit into what looked like an inning-ending double play ball to third base, but second baseman Alexi Casilla thought there already were two outs in the inning and, rather than making the pivot to double up the sluggish Molina, took Brendan Harris’s throw while running across the bag and started to head into the dugout. Casilla realized his mistake when Twins starter Glen Perkins started cursing him out through clenched teeth, but it was too late; The Yankees had an extra out and they made the most of it when Justin Christian, starting against the lefty Perkins, shot a low and inside pitch down the third base line for a two-run double into the left-field coerner that plated Molina all the way from first base.

That was all Mike Mussina needed as he turned in his best start of the season by pitching eight shutout innings while striking out seven and allowing just six baserunners (all on hits). The Yankees added a three-spot against Perkins in the sixth and LaTroy Hawkins coughed one up while attempting to wrap things up in the ninth (“forcing” Joe Girardi to call in Mariano Rivera for the final out).

The Yanks have scored 6.3 runs per game since the break while allowing just two runs per game. They are now a game ahead of the Twins, four ahead of the A’s, and are headed to Boston for a three-game series trailing the Red Sox for the Wild Card lead by just three games (with the division-leading Rays just another half game ahead of them).

Robbie Cano v. Joe Cuba



Let’s Hope They Can Get This One In

Thunderstorms are in the forecast…could be a long, damp one for the Yanks and Twins.

Couple of Three Random Things

According to Ken Rosenthal, Jarrod Washburn isn’t likely to land in the Bronx.


Over at the Times, Harvey Araton has a blog post on former Yankee announcer, Tony Kubek, who talks about why he walked away from broadcasting in 1994:

“I had two years remaining on my contract with MSG at the time,” Kubek said. “But it struck me that day that I just didn’t want to be in or around baseball anymore. I remember that I called Bob Gutkowski, who was my boss, and I told him that I wasn’t going to finish the contract. He said, `Wait a minute, that’s pretty good money you’re going to walk away from,’ but I had made up my mind and that was it.

“Part of it was that I didn’t like what was happening in the game, or what was going to happen. But part of it was that I had been around baseball my whole life. Everyone around me had been in baseball. I decided I didn’t want to be in it anymore, to go home and spend time with my family. I said goodbye, and that was it. I haven’t seen a major league game since I retired, even on television. I’ve never seen Derek Jeter play, though I do recall seeing him work out when he was very young and still in the minor leagues.”

Kind of hard to imagine never having watched Jeter isn’t it? Good stuff from Araton.

Jeez, tough loss for the Mets last night, huh?

They Got Five On It

Yanks roll over Twins 8-2, win fifth straight. 

Rays lose.  New York just three-and-a-half games out of first place.

Say word.

Darrell Rasner pitched well on Tuesday night at the Stadium and Bobby Abreu got the big hit, a two-run homer in the sixth that put the Yanks ahead for good.  It was close early but the Bombers scored three in the sixth and four in the seventh to put it away.  Contributions from many but man, is Robinson Cano ever back or what?  The dude is in a flat-groove right now.  Speaking of which, let’s all feel good: 

 Gotta love the grooves…

Right, Ike?

Can the Yanks Make it Five Straight?

Why not?

Time To Make the Donuts


Joba Chamberlain popped up in a few Dunkin Donuts around town today.  It’d be fun to run into that kid on the street, don’t you think? 

For all of the things that have gone wrong this season, Mr. Joba sure ain’t one of ’em.

The Big Hurt

It’s free week over at Baseball Prospectus, where Will Carroll weighs in on Jorge Posada’s predicament:

Posada does not have a full-thickness tear (or rupture,) but according to sources there was significant damage in at least two of the four muscles, though there will be another set of images taken on Tuesday to gauge whether playing for the past few weeks has aggravated the issue. Most of the damage was focused in the subscapularis and was described as "moderate," a diagnosis that was agreed on by Andrews, David Altchek, and Yankees team physician Stuart Hershon. Posada is scheduled to see Dr. Altchek again after this imaging to make a determination about surgery. All indications are that that’s what will be necessary, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll have it now and be ready for next season, or wait until after the season and put part of 2009 in jeopardy.

There continues to be some question about how Posada’s situation has been managed. He appears to have tried to play through it, with Joe Girardi—the former Yankees backstop who started ahead of Posada earlier in his career—not ‘allowing’ Posada to play through pain. Yet Posada told the press that "it hurts to throw, and I can’t catch like this" on Monday. He can hit, but if his or the team’s insistence on catching has caused an exacerbation, it’s clear that this was mismanaged. For a team willing to sign Richie Sexson, playing Posada at first base or designated hitter should have been an option. If Posada elects to have surgery, he should be able to return, though the impact on his throwing will be seen well into 2009, raising these same questions again.

 Most of the Yankee fans I’ve heard from agree: time to go under the knife, Jorge.

Great But Not Forgotten

Can a great player be underrated?  Perhaps.  They can at least be under-appreciated.  Such is the case with this guy, Frank Robinson:

As well as this guy, Stan the Man Musial.

Joe Pos has a great post on Musial this week.  Check it out.


I don’t get this one at all.

Update: From Pete Abe.

The Dean

Jerome Holtzman passed away yesterday. He was 81 and had been ill for some time. Holtzman is best-known as the Hall of Fame’s first “official” historian and for his involvement with the "save" rule, but his lasting literary achievement is the oral history "No Cheering in the Press Box."  (If you don’t got it, get it.)  Here is John Schulian, remembering his old colleague:

I always called him Jerome.  I’m not sure why.  He answered just as readily to Jerry.  And then there were some young bucks who called him the Dean, as in the dean of the press box.  By any name, however, Jerome Holtzman was a classic — a first-rate reporter, an amiable companion on the road and a man who backed down to no one.  If I have the story straight, he came out of an orphanage on the west side of Chicago and was a marine in World War II, which is to say he was in the thick of it in the Pacific.  "One tough Jew," in the words of my old friend and fellow Holtzman fan David Israel.
Long before I met Jerome, I reviewed his brilliant book "No Cheering in the Press Box" for the Baltimore Sun.  Glowingly, I might add.  The next time whichever Chicago team he was covering came to town, he called to thank me personally.  I had a hunch then that he was aces.  My hunch was confirmed when I went to Chicago as a sports columnist, first at the soon-to-be-dead Daily News and then as Jerome’s colleague at the Sun-Times.  If I had a question about the game, Jerome answered it whether we were on the same side or not.  If I wanted to meet someone, Jerome took care of the introduction.  And trust me when I say Jerome knew everybody.
In the obituaries that will hail his passing, much will be made of the fact that he invented the save.  But I think it is far more impressive to think of the knowledge that he took to the grave, for this was a man who understood far more than hits, runs and errors.  He was a master of the business that baseball became, the finances and the labor struggles and all the scheming and backstabbing that went with them.  That, more than anything else, is what separated him from the pack.
He had a great library too, one with every book on baseball imaginable, and I felt like I’d joined a very special club the day he let me see it.  He even loaned me a couple of books — Eliot Asinof’s "Man on Spikes" was one — because that was the kind of guy he was.
He had a big heart, he liked a good cigar (or even, I suspect, a bad one), and he hummed when he wrote.  The tune was of his own making, and that was as it should have been.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Holtzman.

Jorge Joo?

There’s no crying in baseball, and rather than sit around and mope about having likely lost Jorge Posada for the year, the Yankees went out and put a whuppin’ on the Twins, winning the game in this series that they seemed least likely to win on paper, 12-4.

Sidney Ponson wasn’t great, but got more groundballs (9) than flyballs (6) and held the Twins to three runs over 5 2/3 innings thanks to a sixth-inning assist from Edwar Ramirez. That left room for the offense to do it’s thing. Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez got things going with two outs in the bottom of the first with a single and a bomb into the Yankee bullpen. Ponson promptly gave those two runs back, but in the bottom of the second the Yankees blew things open with a barrage of singles and some help from some sloppy Twins defense.

The rally got started with one out when Twins shortstop Brendan Harris made an unnecessary dive to stop a Melky Cabrera grounder to the left of second base and then couldn’t get a handle on the ball to make the throw, allowing Cabrera to reach (headfirst, to the aggravation of many) with an infield single. Legitimate singles by Jose Molina and Brett Gardner then loaded the bases. Johnny Damon followed by hitting a potential double-play ball to second, but Alexi Casilla, perhaps thinking the ball was a bit to slow to turn two, threw home, short-hopping catcher Joe Mauer, and allowing all the runners to advance safely. A single by Derek Jeter plated another run, and Bobby Abreu beat the relay on another possible double play to make it 5-2 Yankees. Alex Rodriguez then singled off the glove of third baseman Brian Buscher to push it to 6-2 and drive Twins starter Nick Blackburn (unfairly, in my opinion) from the game.

After reliever Boof Bonser struck out Jason Giambi to end the rally and Sidney Ponson retired the Twins in order, Robinson Cano led off the bottom of the third by wrapping a towering home run around the right field foul pole and well into the upper deck to make it 7-2. Melky Cabrera then reached on his second infield single in as many at-bats (this one off Bonser’s ankle) and was later plated by a Johnny Damon flare into no-man’s land in shallow left that hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double.

Things were quite for a while after that. The Twins picked up their third run in the fifth when Jason Kubel followed what looked like a rally-killing double play with an RBI single. The Yanks then went back to work in the sixth against reliever Craig Breslow. Derek Jeter led off with an opposite-field home run into the front rows of section 37 of the right-field bleachers. Bobby Abreu then singled, moved to second on a balk that initially looked like a successful pickoff, then moved to third and scored on a pair of wild pitches. The latter moved Alex Rodriguez, who had walked on the first, to second where he was able to score on a Cano single. The Yanks made it an even dozen in the eighth and the Twins picked up a run against LaTroy Hawkins (who could lose his bullpen spot to Brian Bruney by the end of the week) in the ninth.

With Posada back on the DL, Jose Molina went 3 for 4 with a run scored. In his first game off the DL, Johnny Damon went 1 for 4 with that flared RBI double and a run scored. Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera stayed hot, going a combined 4 for 10 (though neither of Melky’s two hits left the infield, while Cano’s homer nearly left the earth’s gravitational pull). Jeter, Abreu, and Rodriguez went a combined 6 for 12 with a pair of homers and 6 RBIs. Even Brett Gardner got a hit (1 for 4). Only Jason Giambi failed to pick up a safety, though he did walk. Giambi is 2 for 7 since the break, but has six walks in that span for a .615 on-base percentage.

The Yankees are now just a game behind the Twins for second place in the Wild Card chase, and stand a decent chance of sweeping their way into Boston this weekend. Not bad considering how the evening began.

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