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Monthly Archives: March 2009

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According to this AP report posted at ESPN, Hideki Matsui will not be playing the field anytime soon.

Bronx Boys

Thanks to Chyll Will, we have an interview with Sadat X, one of my favorite emcees, by D-Nice.

Ah, Sadat X.

Oh, and you remember D-Nice, right?

USA vs. Puerto Rico: Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves

Tonight, the USA will either advance to the World Baseball Classic semi-finals or be eliminated. The game is on MLB Network at 7pm, or you can follow it via my liveblog over at SI.com.  Or both!


Here is my favorite version of the New Orleans classic “Big Chief.”  Thank you, Professor Longhair.  We are not worthy. 

Just makes me want to jump up and wish I could like so:


I am Curious (Fellow)


I’ve been reaching out to some of my father’s old friends recently and talking to them about the old man.  Family members too.  It’s been an engaging if sometimes painful experience.   It’s not that I’ve discovered things about Pop that I didn’t necessarily know–although I do have more details than I ever did before–it’s just that so much of my childhood was filled with sadness that it isn’t an easy time to revisit.  I also realize how much of that sadness I’ve chosen to leave behind.

In the course of learning more about my dad I’ve spoken to my mom and also reviewed her story and her family’s history.  Mom was born in Belgium but moved to Zaire in 1948 when she was four years old.  She lived in the Congo until 1960 when she and her mother and her sister fled back to Europe as the revolution broke out.  She was picked up at school one day and brought directly to the airport.  Didn’t get to say goodbye to her friends or her pets, didn’t get to take any of her things.  Poof, they were gone.

My grandfather, a mechanic who co-operated a Renault dealership in the Congo, remained for a few years trying to salvage his business.  He also helped preists and missionaries escape.  He loved living in Africa and later returned in the Seventies for another ten years.  The Congo was really my mother’s childhood home.  And it no longer exists as she knew it.   She never returned.

Mom finished high school and went to college in Belgium, then met my father and came to the States by the time she was 23.  So Belgium was never as much a home.  Still, her brother and sister live there, along with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles.

I haven’t been to Brussels since my grandfather died, fifteen years ago next month.  I remember four priests who he had helped escape from the Congo were present to pay their respects.   This is the longest stretch I’ve ever had not visiting.  My siblings and I took turns during the summers when we were growing up.  Turns out my grandfather’s younger brother is still alive.  At 87, he’s still lucid and alert.  I said to my mother recently, “Well, someone has to interview him and get the stories.”

One thing led to another, I saw that flights are cheap, so hell, I’m off to Belgium on Thursday night for a week to visit my family, and learn more about their lives and their history.  My mother has complicated feelings about her childhood and has never been comfortable talking about the political nature of being a Colonist (and Belgium, like so many European countries, had an undeniable history of brutality in Africa). Ever hear of Heart of Darkness?

So, I’m curious. To see how things have changed since I was there last. To hear what my aunt and uncles’ experiences were, to see old photo albums and 8 mm movies from my mother’s childhood.

I won’t be gone long, and who knows, maybe I’ll even blog from overseas. In the meantime, Cliff and Diane, Will and Bruce will hold the fort down over here.  Oh, and I’ll have some frites and think about y’all.

News of the Day – 3/17/09

Today’s news is powered by this St. Patrick’s Day-tinged classic music video …

  • The New Yorker takes an architectural look at the new homes of the Mets and Yanks.  Here’s a bit on the Yanks:

The new Yankee Stadium, designed by the architectural firm HOK Sport, is effectively an attempt to atone for the brutal 1973 renovation of Ruppert’s building, which removed the historic ambience without adding much in the way of modern amenities. HOK has reincarnated the old stadium, but with clearer sight lines, luxury suites, plenty of places to eat, and, finally, sufficient bathroom facilities.

It has tried hard, very hard, to make us think of its predecessor, with sumptuous architectural effects that have the self-important air of a new courthouse built to look as if it had been there since William Howard Taft was President.

When you first go in, you find yourself in the so-called Great Hall, an enormous space covered with a translucent roof, and from there you move into the concourses and toward the seats. Lest you forget that you are there not only to watch a baseball game but also to soak up the stadium’s noble lineage, there’s a reproduction of the famous scalloped frieze that adorned the old stadium’s upper deck. Outside, there is a façade of limestone, granite, and cast stone, with high, narrow arched openings and entry portals that seem designed for the ceremonial arrival of the Pope, Queen Elizabeth, or at least George Steinbrenner.

The New York Yankees earlier this month borrowed $105 million from a group of banks led by Goldman Sachs to cover final cost overruns at the new Yankee Stadium, sources said.

The loan brings the total debt on the stadium, which opens next month, to more than $1.3 billion.  …

The collateral for the loan is limited to sponsorships, premium seating and ticket sales, categories that are expected to total $330 million this season, said a finance source who’s read the loan prospectus, which cited the figure.  …

Another source said that when adding in the Yankees’ fees from the YES Network and other media, and calculating in concessions revenue, total dollars generated by the team should exceed $450 million. …

The amount, however, is offset by interest and amortization, a player payroll topping $200 million, steep luxury and revenue-sharing payments, along with the club’s organizational costs, like stadium operations and minor leagues.


Yankees 12, Phillies 0

Yanks crush Phils 12-0. Here are the details:


L – Brett Gardner (CF)
R – Cody Ransom (3B)
S – Nick Swisher (1B)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
R – Jose Molina (C)
R – Angel Berroa (2B)
S – Todd Linden (LF)
S – Eduardo Nuñez (SS)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Luis Nuñez (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Justin Leone (3B), Kevin Cash (C), Shelley Duncan (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Edwar Gonzalez (LF), Robinson Cano (DH), P.J. Pilittere (DH)

Pitchers: Joba Chamberlain, Brian Bruney, Kei Igawa, Jonathan Alabaladejo, David Robertson

Opposition: The Phillies’ B-team

Big Hits:

Brett Gardner tripled and walked in four trips. Angel Berroa and Justin Leone both doubled in three trips. Kevin Cash doubled in two trips. Cody Ransom went 2-for-2 with a walk. Eduardo Nuñez went 3-for-3 with a stolen base. Nick Swisher went 3-for-4. Xavier Nady went 2-f0r-4. Shelley Duncan went 2-for-2.

Who Pitched Well:

Joba Chamberlain and Kei Igawa both gave up two hits and a walk while striking out three in three innings. Jonathan Albaladejo struck out two in a perfect eighth inning. David Robertson pitched around a walk in the ninth.

Who Didn’t:

He didn’t give up a run, but Brian Bruney gave up a single, a double, and a walk in his lone inning of work. He was helped by a double play, but three of the five men he faced reached base.


Brett Gardner tripled, walked, scored two runs, and drove in a third in his four trips. He is slugging .781 this spring, not counting a double he hit against the USA. Nick Swisher got his batting average over .200 with a 3-for-4, three-RBI day, though all his hits were singles. He has just one extra-base hit on the spring. Xavier Nady went 2-for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, but still hasn’t drawn a walk.

Including his three innings against Team USA, Kei Igawa hasn’t allowed a run in 12 innings this spring. Here’s his cumulative line: 12 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K in five appearances. Jonathan Albaladejo and David Robertson are making their case for the opening day roster. The only relief pitcher in camp with a smaller ERA than Albaladejo (1.59) or Robertson (1.69) in five or more innings (not counting the WBC exhibition games) is Anthony Claggett, who has a 1.29 ERA after seven innings, but the 24-year-old Claggett has just six Triple-A innings under his belt.


Damaso Marte and Robinson Cano‘s MRIs showed no structural damage. Marte, who has been diagnosed with inflamation in his pitching shoulder, will throw in the bullpen today, the first of three before he returns to game action. Cano, who was diagnosed with bursitis in his shoulder, delivered a pinch-hit single yesterday and will play the field on Friday. Mariano Rivera will pitch an inning in tonight’s game on YES.


Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia will not travel to make their next starts this weekend, rather they’ll throw in minor league or simulated games instead. Phil Hughes will start for Pettitte in the major league game on Friday, and Jorge Posada will stay behind to catch Andy.

The Marlins have returned Rule 5 pick Zach Kroenke. Here’s what I wrote about Kroenke when he was taken by Florida:

A lefty reliever with a 93 mph fastball and a good slider, Zack Kroenke had a solid season at Double-A Trenton this year, but he’ll be 25 in late April, he walks to many men (5.4 BB/9 at Trenton), and he had a reverse split this year. With Damaso Marte and Phil Coke on hand, he wasn’t worth a roster spot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was returned by the Fish.

All that Jazz

Here’s a great mega-mix by my friend Steinski.

Quiz: What movie is quoted at the start of the track?

Card Corner–David Clyde


In 1973, just one year before this card appeared, the Texas Rangers initiated the destruction of a young pitcher’s career in an effort to revive a languishing franchise. Team owner Bob Short devised an ill-conceived plan to rush phenom left-hander David Clyde from high school ball to the major leagues as a drawing card for the struggling Rangers franchise. Clyde’s debut season did much to help attendance at Arlington Stadium, but at considerable damage to Clyde’s career, which seemed so promising after throwing nine no-hitters in his senior season of high school.

At onetime a household name, Clyde has become a forgotten man in baseball annals. Here’s what happened. Drafted first in the country out of Texas’ Westchester High School in the spring of 1973, Clyde received a bonus of $125,000 and donned a Rangers’ major league uniform only a few days later. The immediate call-up to Texas was the brainchild of owner Bob Short, which conflicted directly against the advice of manager Whitey Herzog, who believed Clyde needed considerable schooling in the minor leagues.

Equipped with both Short’s blessings and a mechanically sound delivery that some scouts compared to that of Sandy Koufax, Clyde made his highly publicized major league debut against the Minnesota Twins on June 27, 1973. (Only 20 days earlier, Clyde had made his final appearance as a high school pitcher.) That night’s game at Arlington Stadium became such a focal point of local attention that the first pitch was delayed by 15 minutes, allowing more fans to free themselves from the massive logjam of traffic outside the stadium. Perhaps rattled by the late start and frazzled by his own nervousness, the 18-year-old Clyde walked the first two batters he faced—infielder Jerry Terrell and Hall of Famer Rod Carew—before settling down to strike out the side. Clyde went on to pitch a respectable five innings, walking a total of seven Twins, but struck out eight batters while allowing two earned runs and only one hit. Unfortunately, Clyde struggled to match his celebrated debut performance over the balance of the season, posting an ERA of 5.03 and winning only four of 12 decisions with the lowly Rangers in 1973. His pitching only worsened in 1974, leading him down a slippery slope to baseball obscurity.


News of the Day – 3/16/09

Today’s news is powered by a bit of Boss George from 1987:

  • Jorge Posada survived his first game action behind the plate on Sunday, catching the first four innings of the Yanks game against the Twins.

“I was really looking forward to catching,” Posada said. “I felt surprisingly good. I just hope next time somebody steals and I’ll throw the ball down there and see how it feels.”

[My take: From the boxscore, it looks like Jorge might have been given only one chance to throw anyone out.]

  • Rivera is already stating he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
  • Cano and Marte had their MRIs pushed back to Monday.
  • Brett Gardner gets a nice write-up in the Times, including this quote:

Gardner’s home runs this spring are a surprise. He hit only nine in his four professional seasons. “People think I’m going to hit for power this year,” Gardner said, “but that’s not something I’m expecting to do.”

Gardner batted .228 for the Yankees last season, but he hit .295 in his second tour with the team, beginning on Aug. 15, the day Cabrera was sent to the minors.

Gardner said he improved by changing his left-handed swing under the instruction of the hitting coach Kevin Long. “I just took the stride out,” Gardner said. “With less moving parts in my swing, less things can go wrong.”

  • Mark Feinsand of the News writes about A.J. Burnett’s dominant outing on Saturday:

The righthander cruised through four perfect innings, throwing 40 pitches – 32 of them for strikes – without allowing a single Astro to reach base. He was so efficient, in fact, that pitching coach Dave Eiland sent him to the bullpen after he was finished so he could throw 10 more pitches from the stretch – something he didn’t have to do once during the game.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Burnett said. “Any time you can establish the strike zone and pitch ahead, it makes for a better day.”

The seats on Selection Saturday weren’t the cheap ones out in the bleachers but the unsold premium ones selling for $350 to $2,500 a game that the Yankees haven’t been able to unload. It was easy to find the unsold inventory: affixed prominently to the seat backs, like tiny Fathead posters, were blue-and-white signs that identified price and location.

“Buy me,” these patches of blue seemed to shout, “we’re $850 a game.” …

I did not see any seats outfitted with the $2,500 signs, but I was assured that some of those quite desirable front-row perches were available. …

Our guide/salesman led us on the cushioned-seat excursion of the Legends and Delta Sky360 Suites — behind home plate, along the first base line and into the clubs serving those who can still afford to buy in those areas. In the two-tiered Legends Suite Club, a sign at the entrance promised: “Welcome to the Legends Club Where the Answer Is Yes.” …

Other tours were going on simultaneously as workers were hammering, painting, cleaning, installing and doing what must be done a month before a $1.5 billion stadium opens. But here, even in the worst economy in 75 or 80 years, the Yankees aren’t discounting their real estate even as home values have tumbled nationwide.


Yankees 5, Twins 1

Sure, the Yankees won, 5-1, but the best part of yesterday’s game was having Jorge Posada back behind the plate.


S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)
R – Angel Berroa (3B)
S – Ramiro Peña (SS)
R – Doug Bernier (2B)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Eduardo Nuñez (SS), Justin Leone (3B), Francisco Cervelli (C), Shelley Duncan (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Todd Linden (LF), Robinson Cano (DH)

Pitchers: Andy Pettitte, Phil Coke, Jose Veras, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson

Big Hits:

Nick Swisher (1-for-3) finally picked up his first extra-base hit of the spring, a double off Bob Keppel. The Yankees had four doubles in all, the others by Jorge Posada (2-for-2), Melky Cabrera (1-for-2, BB), and Angel Berroa (1-for-2). Ramiro Peña went 2-for-3, but was both picked off first base and thrown out attempting to steal second, negating both times on base.

Who Pitched Well:

Everyone really. Andy Pettitte pitched around a double and a single for three scoreless frames. Anthony Claggett threw a 1-2-3 eighth, and both Jose Veras and Steven Jackson pitched around lone hits for scoreless innings.

Who Didn’t:

Phil Coke gave up the only run on three singles and a walk, but that was all he allowed in three innings while also striking out two, so it’s hard to say he didn’t pitch well.


Three innings for Phil Coke continues to suggest that he’s in the longman battle, which is otherwise being won by Brett Tomko, who is the type of pitcher the Yankees should be avoiding. Nick Swisher‘s first extra-base hit came before Xavier Nady‘s first walk, for whatever that’s worth. Melky Cabrera had a solid day at the plate with a double, a walk, and two runs scored. Jose Veras dropped his spring ERA below 2.00, while Steven Jackson brought his below 3.00.


Jorge Posada caught in a game for the first time since July 19 of last year. He only caught the first four innings and didn’t have to throw to second during play, but threw to second between innings and said afterwords that he felt strong. He’ll catch again Tuesday and Thursday, taking the days in between off. Robinson Cano‘s appearance at DH suggests the Yankees aren’t to worried about his tender shoulder. His MRI, as well as Damaso Marte‘s have been pushed back to today. Also, Pete Abe reports that Hideki Matsui beat out a double-play ball, which is a good indication that his knees are feeling good.


Derek Jeter, the only Yankee left in the tournament, went 0-for-3 with two walks against the Netherlands as the USA’s DH. The U.S. beat the Dutch 9-3. Check out my SI.com liveblog of the game. I’ll also be liveblogging the USA’s double-elimination game against the winner of tonight’s Venezuela-Puerto Rico matchup, which is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7pm on the MLB Network.

USA: Backs Against the Dykes

Catch my liveblog of the USA’s double-elimination game against the upstart Netherlands team over at SI.com’s FanNation already in progress.

Wraping Up The Last Three Games

Sorry for the lack of a game wrap on Friday night’s 8-4 loss to the Red Sox. I was travelling. Yesterday, the Yankees won a pair of split-squad games against the Pirates (13-10) and Astros (3-1). That’s too many lineups to list here, so I’ll skip right to the Big Hits, etc.

Big Hits:

Jesus Montero hit a grand slam off Chris Bootcheck of the Pirates, and walked in his two other plate appearances over the last two days. Austin Jackson homered off Denny Bautista of the Pirates and went 2-for-6. Johnny Damon hit a solo homer off Wandy Rodriguez, going 1-for-3 against the Astros. Cody Ransom tripled off Tim Wakefield and doubled off Wandy Rodriguez, going 3-for-7. Xavier Nady doubled off Wakefield, went 1-for-6, and still hasn’t drawn a walk this spring. Shelley Duncan doubled of Takashi Saito, going 2-for-4. Kyle Anson doubled in four at-bats. Angel Berroa went 3-for-6.

Who Pitched Well:

A.J. Burnett pitched four perfect innings against the Astros, striking out three. Brett Tomko allowed just two singles in 3 1/3 innings against Boston while striking out five. Ian Kennedy struck out five Pirates while allowing just an unearned run on three hits and a walk (though he also thew wild on a pickoff and hit a batter). Brian Bruney pitched a perfect eighth against Houston striking out two. Steven Jackson pitched a perfect sixth inning against the Red Sox. Jonathan Albaladejo pitched a perfect fourth inning against the Pirates. David Robertson retired the only batter he faced to save the game against Pittsburgh. Edwar Ramirez pitched around a single for a scoreless seventh against the Astros in his spring debut. Jason Johnson pitched around a pair of singles for a scoreless ninth against Houston.

Who Didn’t:

Chien-Ming Wang gave up seven runs (though only one was earned due to a Juan Miranda error), on six hits, including home runs by Mike Lowell and David Ortiz, in a mere 1 2/3 innings. Mark Melancon gave up five runs on a walk and six hits, four of them for extra bases, while recording just two outs in the ninth inning against the Pirates.


Brett Gardner went 1-for-5 with a walk and a steal. Melky Cabrera went 1-for-4. Nick Swisher went 0-for-2 with a walk and a steal. He still doesn’t have an extra-base hit, while Xavier Nady, who went 1-for-6, doubled but still doesn’t have a walk.


Robinson Cano (right shoulder tendonitis) and Damaso Marte (left shoulder tendonitis) had MRIs yesterday after returning from the WBC. Cano’s injury is believed to be normal spring training discomfort. Alex Rodriguez is off his crutches. Mariano Rivera threw 40 pitches in batting practice and will get into his first spring game on Tuesday. Edwar Ramirez (shoulder) and Jason Johnson (cancer) each pitched in a game for the first time this spring yesterday; both pitched well.


Ian Kennedy, Christian Garcia, and Michael Dunn were optioned. Don’t expect to see either of them before September, if then.

Kevin Russo, Colin Curtis, Kyle Anson, Austin Romine, Jesus Montero, and Mark Melancon were reassigned to minor league camp. Melancon could reappear in the bullpen as early as April. None of the rest are likely to see the majors this year as Garcia is coming back from an assortment of injuries and Romine and Montero are starting the year at High-A Tampa.

Fire Ball Burnett

I caught two innings of AJ Burnett yesterday and he was throwing cheese. I want to like Burnett even though I’ve spent a lot of time not liking him over the past several years. It’s hard to get overly excited by him because even in his best seasons he hasn’t been as great as you might like to see from a guy with great stuff. Will he throw 200 innings? Can he make 25-30 starts? Can he post a sub 4.00 ERA? Or will he strike out a lot of dudes, have an ERA of 4.30, make 21 starts and throw 160 innings?

One thing…if he manages to improve over his performance last year, the Yanks are going to be tough.

Dumb and Dumber

News of the Day – 3/14/09

Today’s news is powered by one of the great ambassadors and spokesmen of the game … the late Buck O’Neil.

  • Cano and Marte returned from their WBC games with some health issues.
  • The Bombers, perhaps in response to their difficulties in selling those premium field box season ticket plans, are holding an “Open House” this weekend where you can sit in/pick out your own seat.
  • Meanwhile, you can register for a random drawing for an opportunity to buy regular season game tickets on-line.
  • The News has a nice article on the “no-name” relievers (non-Rivera):

Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, Dave Robertson and Jonathan Albaladejo might not be household names – heck, they are barely recognized by Yankee fans – but the Bombers are confident that this group of no-name relievers has what it takes to join Rivera, Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte to form a successful bullpen.

Veras (60 games, 57-2/3 innings, 63 strikeouts), Ramirez (55 games, 55-1/3 innings, 63 strikeouts) and Coke (one run in 12 outings) helped contribute to a Yankees bullpen that ranked fifth in the American League last season with a 3.79 ERA, which was nearly a third of a run lower than the league average. That number becomes even more impressive when you consider that their 543-1/3 innings were more than any team in the league other than the Rangers, who tossed 572-2/3. …

The Yankees’ bullpen topped the AL in strikeouts with 523, which was 87 more than second-place Texas. The Yankees’ .235 opponents batting average ranked third in the league, trailing only Tampa Bay and Toronto, while the opponents’ on-base percentage was .310, second in the league to the AL East champion Rays.

In addition, Yankee relievers led all AL teams in strikeout/walk ratio (2.46) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.66), showing that Cashman’s plan to stock the system with young power arms was beginning to pay off.


Pitching In

Loosening Up a ‘lil bit


Recently, I’ve been hearing about the “Swisher Effect” on the Yankee clubhouse this spring and I think it’s an appealing development. Dig this, from Ben Reiter’s recent column at SI.com:

The first thing one perceives upon walking into the home clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa is the mid-90s hip-hop music — stuff like Warren G’s Regulate and Skee-Lo’s I Wish — blasting from an iPod speaker in the back of the room. The iPod belongs to Nick Swisher. Swisher’s role on the field is still to be determined (he’ll probably play mainly right field, a little left and a little first base), and Cashman says that while his unusually gregarious and enthusiastic nature wasn’t a factor in the decision to acquire him from the White Sox in November, his impact on the team’s dynamic has already been deeply felt. “We’re a little sterile now and then, and we need to be livened up,” the G.M. says. “Swish is just the guy to do it. He’s got a great personality.”

The New York clubhouse has at times seemed businesslike to the point of somberness in recent years, but with Swisher aboard, it’s hard to see that being the case in ’09.

And while you are at SI, check out Tim Marchman’s piece on Alex Rodriguez as well as Joe Posnanski’s cover story on Albert Pujols.

Batter Up

News of the Day – 3/13/09

Today’s news is powered by a “What’s My Line” appearance by Bobby Murcer (from 1971) …..

  • MLB.com has an article on Hughes and Kennedy looking to redeem themselves in 2009.
  • Fan favorite Jim Kaat now has his own website, kittykaat.com.  Also, Kaat will also return to the broadcast booth this season, calling a few games for the MLB Network.
  • The Yanks have now reached contract agreements with all their non-arbitration players.  Joba Chamberlain will earn $432,575 if, as expected, he spends the entire season with the big club.
  • PeteAbe gives us the salary list for those non-arbitration players.
  • Mariano Duncan turns 46 today.  Duncan was a godsend at 2B for the Yankees in 1996, hitting .340 in 400 ABs.  He never learned how to take a walk, earning a mere nine free passes in 417 PAs that season (.352 OBP).  For his career, he walked a little more than once every 25 PAs.
  • Happy 50th birthday to Luis Aguayo (spot starter at 3B for ’88 squad).
  • On this date in 1937, Lou Gehrig signs for $38,000 with a $750 signing bonus.
  • On this date last year, 59-year-old Billy Crystal makes an appearance in a Yankees spring training game. He strikes out on a full count from Paul Maholm after hitting one ball just foul.
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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver