Today’s news is powered by part of a foreign language documentary on the history of baseball in Italy, with this piece featuring a visit by Joe DiMaggio:
- PeteAbe reports that Brett Gardner has won the starting CF job. Here’s a quote from the skipper on the matter:
“What happens April 6 doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what’s going to be June 1. As players, you have to perform. But right now we think Gardy has a little bit of an edge,” Girardi said. “It’s not going to be day by day. Gardy is our center fielder.”
[My take: Will Gardner get the green light often, especially with Mr. "24 GIDP" Jeter batting after him? The last time a Yankee stole 40+ bases in a year was Alfonso Soriano in 2002. Will Gardner be allowed to take aim at that from the 9 hole? That's our poll question today.]
- Here is MLB.com’s report on the establishment of Gardner in CF.
- Jonathan Albaladejo is making a strong case for a spot in the Yanks’ pen:
A member of the Yankees’ Opening Day roster in 2008, the 26-year-old right-hander has compiled a strong spring to state his case. Albaladejo has limited opponents to one run on eight hits in 9 2/3 innings (0.93 ERA), walking one and striking out eight.
Coming off a stress fracture in his right elbow, Albaladejo has had scouts buzzing again and says he is feeling as strong as he has since his early 20s.
“I’ve been throwing the ball well,” Albaladejo said. “The important part for me is I’m getting outs. I feel like I’m going good.”
The Yankees intended to take a long reliever with them last year, Girardi’s first at the helm, and heavily considered both Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner.
But Karstens was eliminated with a groin injury on the club’s final day in Tampa and Rasner instead started the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. A similar situation could emerge this year, as the Yankees weigh carrying Albaladejo and left-hander Phil Coke as a pair of multiple-inning hurlers.
- PeteAbe also takes (another) crack at predicting the Opening Day roster.
- The Yanks have erected a small memorial to the victims of 9/11, using some of the actual steel from the towers, at Steinbrenner Field:
The memorial was dedicated prior to New York’s 1:15 p.m. ET game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It contains a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, which was presented to the Yankees by the “Gene O’Kane Division” of retired New York City firefighters.
As announced by the Yankees, the grass that the memorial is situated on represents those who lost their lives in Somerset County, Penn., on United Flight 93. The foundation of the monument is in the shape of the Pentagon, symbolizing those who lost their lives there, including passengers on American Airlines Flight 77. The memorial’s two steel towers represent the World Trade Center and those who died in New York City.
- If you’ve got an iPhone or and iPod Touch, you can now get MLB Gameday Audio through MLB’s “At Bat 2009” application.
- Bob Raissman wonders whether the YES Network would move their cameras around to avoid showing any empty seats at the new park, and recalls this bit of broadcasting history:
Ticket talk triggered a memory from long ago – Sept. 22, 1966. The Yankees would finish in 10th place that season and on that day, 413 fans squeezed their way into Yankee Stadium, which at the time had a seating capacity of 65,000.
The legendary Red Barber was at the WPIX-TV microphone. He instructed the director of the telecast to have PIX’s cameras pan the empty Stadium. “I don’t know what the paid attendance is today, but whatever it is, it is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium,” Barber reported. “And this crowd is the story, not the game.”
Shortly after the ’66 season ended, Barber was fired by the astute suits from CBS who owned the team and were in the process of driving it into the ground.
- Lou Saban, a former Yankee team president (and one-time coach of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills) has died at the age of 87. Boss George issued a statement:
“My friendship with Lou goes back to 1948, when we were both involved in a youth track and field program in Cleveland,” Steinbrenner said in a statement released by the Yankees.
“He has been my friend and mentor for over 50 years, and one of the people who helped shape my life. Lou was tough and disciplined, and he earned all the respect and recognition that came his way. He spent a lifetime leading, teaching and inspiring, and took great satisfaction in making the lives around him better.”
- This doesn’t deal with the Yankees directly, but it DOES point out the differences in how AL East rivals fund their payrolls. The Yanks open a new stadium and have a huge TV enterprise. The Rays . . . get to the 6th and 7th game of the ALCS:
That included what turned out to be their best worst loss ever: the bullpen meltdown against the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS.
That allowed the Rays to play Game 6, then Game 7, at Tropicana Field. That allowed them to make millions of dollars in additional revenue from their share of gate receipts (which is much larger than in Games 1-4, which go mostly to the players). That allowed them to push the opening day payroll past $60 million for just the second time in franchise history. And that allowed them to sign upper-shelf free agents such as RHP Joe Nelson, LHP Brian Shouse and DH Pat Burrell.
“The Red Sox beating us in Game 5 actually allowed us to put more money into the team this year,” Sternberg explained. “So there’s probably a middle reliever or two that wouldn’t be here, or we’d have a different bat.”
- On this date in 2001, Dwight Gooden announces his retirement. A four-time All-Star and Cy Young Award winner, Gooden posted a 194-112 record with a 3.51 ERA and 2293 strikeouts over a 16-season career. During his time with the Bombers, he threw a no-hitter against a Seattle Mariners lineup that included Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Edgar Martinez.