Off we go . . .
- Xavier Nady has been formally diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament:
The Yankees feared originally Nady could be lost for the season with a completely torn ligament, but a review of multiple X-rays revealed that the ligament is only partially torn. He will likely need to rehab the injury for a period of weeks, perhaps a month.
- Chien-Ming Wang will be putting himself back together down in Tampa:
Chien-Ming Wang will pitch an extended spring training game Thursday in Tampa, a move the Yankees hope will finally give them some answers as to what is troubling their former ace.
Wang, who will remain on the Yankees active roster, is scheduled to throw 100 pitches in front of Yankees Tampa-based officials Mark Newman and Nardi Contreras.
This way, Joe Girardi explained, Wang can attempt to figure out what’s wrong pitching in game conditions as opposed to more bullpen sessions. Part of the problem has been that Wang has looked good in the bullpen between starts and before games, but has struggled in games.
- Ken Belson of the Times has an article on the troubles the metro NY teams are having selling their premium seats:
. . . the Mets and the Yankees face a public relations nightmare and possibly millions of dollars in lost revenue after failing to sell about 5,000 tickets — including some of the priciest seats — to each of their first few games after last week’s openers.
The empty seats are a fresh sign that the teams might have miscalculated how much fans and corporations were willing to spend, particularly during a deep recession. Whatever the reason, the teams are scrambling to comb over their $295- to $2,625-a-seat bald spots.
“I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘It’s just April,’ ” Jon Greenberg, executive editor of the Team Marketing Report, said of the lack of sellouts. “But it’s lost revenue they anticipated getting. This is the worst possible time to debut a stadium.”
But the slow start in New York is striking considering how much the teams here spent to build and promote their parks. Like airlines that break even on economy tickets and rely on first-class travelers to turn a profit, the teams need to sell their most exclusive seats to help repay the hundreds of millions of dollars of tax-free bonds they issued to finance their new parks.
The unfilled seats in New York are even more glaring compared with how robust sales have been for previous stadium openings. The Baltimore Orioles sold out 67 of their 80 home dates in 1992, when Camden Yards opened. The Cleveland Indians sold out 36 games in the strike-shortened season in 1994, and were filled to capacity 455 consecutive games from 1995 to 2001.
[My take: Actually, this is just the right time to open a new stadium, as those who might not spend disposable income on a ballgame will want to see the new facility . . . unless your average ticket price is $72 . . . and you have a huge restaurant in center field that blocks the view of more than 1,000 fans . . . and your Stadium rules and regulations feel like they were written by the Gestapo.]
- Baseball America has an update on prospect Andrew Brackman:
After a rough start against Rome on Opening Day—which included six runs on five hits in five innings—Brackman’s peripherals have all been trending in the right direction. His walks have dipped from three to two to zero, while his strikeouts have climbed from five on April 9 to eight last night in a strong start at Savannah.
“Last night he had big-time command of the breaking ball,” (Brackman’s manager Torre) Tyson said. “When you have that 60 breaking ball (on the 20-80 scouting scale) to go along with 95 (mph velocity), it’s almost unhittable because you have to cheat to get to the fastball.
Brackman has made strides in repeating his delivery, Tyson said, but it will continue to be an issue because of his immense size. “He’s always trying to tinker a little bit with his delivery, week in and week out.”
Tyson reported that the righthander’s stuff was crisp, with his velocities ranging form 92-95 on the fastball, 74-78 on the curve and 84-88 on the changeup—much as they did last fall in the HWB. The skipper noted something else, too. Brackman found success in cutting the ball, giving him a quality hard pitch with running action that complements his tailing two-seamer.
- Here’s another examination on the possible effect of wind currents on homers at the Stadium.
- YES Network’s Kimberly Jones has her own blog over at MLB.com. She has a good quote from the weekend series with the Indians:
Four games is probably too early to come to conclusions about how Yankee Stadium is going to play. And it’s not like 20 home runs in four games never happened at the old Stadium. But I do know Mark DeRosa told Mark Teixeira, “You’re going to WALK into 40 home runs here.” The two were teammates in Texas.
- My buddy Zack Hample (the guy who made it onto ‘The Tonight Show’ after snagging HR balls on consecutive nights at the Stadium last year) made his first trip to the new digs this past Saturday. Here is part of his report (complete with some great photos):
The new Yankee Stadium was designed by an architect named God, but it’s run by Satan. Forget the fact that backpacks are not allowed. Don’t even get me started with that. You know what else is not allowed? Going down into the field level seats for batting practice…unless of course you have a ticket for those seats. Let me clarify. You CAN get into the field level concourse no matter where your ticketed seat is located, but unless you actually have a SEAT on the field level, you will not be able to get down into the actual seats to snag baseballs. It’s that simple. There was a security guard at every staircase . . .
Batting practice hadn’t even started. . . . It was more than three effin’ hours before the first pitch, and yet the guards were not letting people down into the seats. As you can imagine, there were some pretty angry fans. I talked to one guy who’s paying $20,000 this year for season tickets in the upper deck. He was there with his 11-year-old son, and he was furious that the two of them weren’t allowed down into the seats to try to catch a ball or get an autograph.
I can understand that the owners want to encourage people to buy the fancy seats (and then reward the people who do), but this is just horrible. It’s funny how the team makes such a huge production of playing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch because this policy of keeping fans–especially fathers and sons–out of the good seats for BP is downright un-American.
It’s too nice. It’s just absurd. It’s not a stadium. It’s a luxury hotel. It’s a palace. It’s a mall. It’s flawless. Baseball stadiums should have flaws. Sometimes a zit or a crooked tooth can be sexy, you know? Are we in New York City or Dubai? Jesus Aitch.
[My take: Zack may be there mostly for baseball-snagging, and may therefore have a slightly-biased view of the Yankee Stadium regulations, but I DO think those regulations only serve to enforce the seeming “moat” around the ritzy folks.]
- This isn’t about the Yankees, but its still a good read. Its a Wall Street Journal article on the struggling tradition of the baseball stirrup:
In the big leagues, the half-moons of the game’s “stirrups” are in deep eclipse. Apart from old-schoolers like Jamie Moyer of the Philadelphia Phillies, who is 46, just a few players wear them. A good number play in plain high socks. The rest yank their pant legs down to the tops of their shoes, over their shoes and even hook them to the cleats under their shoes.
Teams may try to make major leaguers obey rules about caps or beards, but below those multimillion-dollar kneecaps, it’s chaos. To fans who know how stirrups look, that hurts. In the opinion of Paul Lukas, ESPN blogger and doyen of the sock obsessed, outfits failing to beautify the shin “dishonor baseball’s hosiery heritage.”
- Jimmy Key turns 48 today. Key compiled a gaudy 35-10 record with Yanks between ’93 and ’94, before injuries dampened his ’95 and ’96 campaigns. He was the winning pitcher in the decisive game 6 of the ’96 World Series.
- On this date in 1915, pinstripes first appeared on Yankees uniforms.
- On this date in 1931, Babe Ruth collides with Charlie Berry, Boston Red Sox catcher and former pro football player, while trying to score on a sacrifice fly. Ruth is carried off the field at Fenway Park and taken to a hospital.
- On this date in 1956, pitcher Don Larsen hits a grand slam off Frank Sullivan of the Boston Red Sox, as New York wins 13 – 6 at Yankee Stadium.
- On this date in 1959, at Griffith Stadium, Whitey Ford pitches a 14-inning, 1 – 0 shutout against the Washington Senators, giving eight hits while striking out 15.
- On this date in 1997, after four months of on-and-off negotiations, the Yankees acquire the rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu from the Padres for $3 million. Irabu’s team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, gave the San Diego exclusive rights to the 27-year-old righthander, but Irabu refused to sign with the Padres, saying he would only pitch for the Yankees.
- On this date in 2007, the Red Sox complete their first Fenway Park sweep of the Yankees in 17 years. Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek hit consecutive home runs, making it the fourth instance in MLB history that four straight hitters had gone deep. The victim for all four gopher balls is Chase Wright, who ties the MLB record for home runs allowed in an inning. Paul Foytack in 1963 had been the only prior pitcher to allow four straight homers in an inning.