Today’s news is powered by Mariano Rivera giving us a tour of his restaurant:
- Have you heard? Alex Rodriguez is back . . .
- William Rhoden of the Times notes the jolt A-Rod’s return gives the Yanks, but offers a bit of caution due to the aging roster:
Before Friday’s game, Damon and Jeter spoke about age, baseball and performance, although the conversation segued into an individual’s ability to play despite age.
Jeter said he hadn’t even thought about retirement. “I’m 35 years old,” he said. “That’s something that hasn’t even crossed my mind.”
Damon said his goal was to play for another four or five years, get 3,000 hits and maybe reach the top 10 in runs scored.
“I definitely don’t want to struggle in this game, so I think once struggle starts happening on an every-day basis, and I can’t get out of it, that’s the time,” Damon said. “I would love to play until I’m 39. I’ll go into the off-season, have my big 40th birthday and be done with it.”
Individual performance is one thing. Individually, Damon, Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and perhaps even Rivera can play effectively for several more seasons. That’s not the Yankees’ issue and it hasn’t been the issue since they won their last World Series title.
The Yankees’ problem is that, while many of the teams around them — most notably the Rays — have gotten younger, the heart and soul of the Yankees is aging. That’s something that even Rodriguez’s return cannot cure.
- Also at the Times, Tyler Kepner examines the Yankees team-building ways:
It’s really incredible to think about the makeup of the Yankees’ roster right now. Over and over, the Yankees meet the salary demands of older players, tossing extra years and dollars on the pile. It hamstrings them constantly.
Was anyone else going to sign Rodriguez through 2017? Or Jorge Posada through 2011? Maybe the Mets would have done that for Posada. But considering his age — he turns 38 in August — maybe the Yankees should have let them. And what do they do when Derek Jeter needs a new deal after 2010, when he’ll be 36?
Then there’s Teixeira, who was 0 for 5 on Thursday and will swap home boos for road boos on Friday at Camden Yards. Asked about Teixeira’s struggles on Thursday, Manager Joe Girardi said: “I think it’s probably magnified because we’re losing. If we were winning, I don’t think there would be as much focus on what he’s done.”
- Friend of the Banter Allen Barra chimes in with a review of the Selena Roberts book on A-Rod:
Roberts seems to know little about the drugs she writes about. As Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll has tirelessly reminded us, a vast number of substances come under the vague category of “performance enhancing drugs” and only a few are actual steroids. Roberts lumps them all together and makes two general assumptions: first, that all such drugs are bad, a point on which sports physicians are by no means in agreement, and second, that all PEDs actually enhance performance.
. . . Roberts doesn’t seem to know that the real question is “What’s in the ballpark?” The ballpark in Arlington, where the Rangers play, is known by baseball analysts to be one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball. Everyone’s statistics are inflated there, and Rodriguez’s home run totals in all other big league parks while playing for Texas were virtually the same as his road statistics when playing for the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. If the drugs increased his power while hitting at Arlington, one wants to know why they had no effect everywhere else.
If Roberts has no insight into PEDs, her understanding of the role and function of the Major League Baseball Players Association is positively nonexistent. Players Association legal counsel Gene Orza is described as “an almost maniacal civil libertarian who defended players even when they seemed indefensible.” Does Roberts not understand that it’s the right of any union member to due process? Union bashing runs rampant in “A-Rod.” Despite the absence of a comprehensive study of so-called PEDs and what their effects are, the union has constantly been ripped in the press for not allowing a random drug testing program to be imposed on them. What union would?
Most irresponsible of all, Roberts accuses the union of warning the players that their drug tests were coming up, an old charge that stems back to the 2007 Mitchell Report on drug use in baseball. If Roberts had bothered to check the basic agreement between the owners and players, she would have found that there was no provision for letting the union know when drug tests were scheduled — that’s pretty much the definition of “random” testing — and therefore no way the union could have “tipped” players.
- Let’s think good thoughts for Ian Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with an aneurysm under his right armpit, and will be having surgery for it Tuesday:
Kennedy left an April 27 start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when he felt numbness in the middle finger of his right hand, initially diagnosed as a vasospasm.
The 24-year-old right-hander was evaluated in New York this week and doctors re-examined his MRIs, revealing the aneurysm in an artery near Kennedy’s biceps area.
Kennedy will have surgery at Roosevelt Hospital in New York under the care of Dr. George Todd, the same doctor who performed David Cone’s procedure on an aneurysm in 1996. There is no immediate timeframe for how long Kennedy will be out of action.
- Not a Yankee, but still worth a mention: Happy 49th birthday to one of my favorite players of the 80s and 90s, Tony Gwynn.
- On this date in 1930, the Yankees and Tigers outfielders make only two putouts for an American League record which has never been equaled. The National League record for OF idleness is one chance (Pittsburgh versus Brooklyn, August 26, 1910). Detroit’s George Uhle strikes out eight in winning, 5 – 4.
- On this date in 1940, the press reports the impending sale of the Yankees by the Ruppert estate to political bigwigs Jim Farley and Jesse Jones. The Sporting News declares the sale will be for $4 million. The imminent sale will resurface on the front page several times during the next year, but the two parties never do finalize the deal.
- On this date in 1958, after six straight home rainouts, the Yanks play their first home night game of the year, against Washington. Mickey Mantle breaks a 2 – 2 tie in the 3rd with an inside-the-park solo homer off Pedro Ramos. New York rolls to a 9 – 5 win.
- On this date in 1979, the Yanks release Paul Blair, who signs with the Reds.
- On this date in 1997, against the Royals in the 6th inning, the Yankees catch Jay Bell in a rundown when Bell is suddenly called out by umpire Dale Ford, who thinks he passed the preceding baserunner, Jose Offerman. Offerman, however, had been forced out at 3B. Royals’ manager Bob Boone argues until the umps agree and put runners back at 2B and 3B and call for a resumption of play. Chili Davis then lines a 2-run single off Kenny Rogers to tie the score. The Royals win 7 – 5 in 12 innings, with the victory going to Randy Veres. The Yanks protest that the rundown play should not have been reversed. Gene Budig will dismiss the protest, stating that with the rundown there were several scenarios where Bell could have escaped a tag.
- On this date in 1999, the Yankees defeat the Mariners, 6-1. Relief P Mike Stanton makes his 1st major league start for NY, ending his major league record streak of 552 consecutive relief appearances prior to his 1st start. The previous record of 443 was set by Gary Lavelle of the Giants.
Back on Monday . . .