"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Big Bopper


Word-for-word, piece-for-piece, I think Lee Jenkins is one of the best writers at Sports Illustrated these days. His latest piece, previewing the Serious in this week’s issue, is on Blastmaster Ryan Howard:

Howard’s bat measures a stout 35 inches, 34 ounces, but in his hands it looks like a toothpick.

Those hands, big as a middle infielder’s mitt, are what former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick noticed the first time he saw Howard play six years ago in the Arizona Fall League. When Gillick is scouting a player, he looks forward to shaking the player’s hand. A strong handshake portends home run power. “That’s where the evaluation begins,” Gillick says. When he thinks back on the strongest handshakes he has felt in more than 40 years of scouting, he rattles off some formidable names: Eddie Murray, George Bell, Alex Rodriguez and Howard. (After shaking this reporter’s hand, Gillick said, “Didn’t hit many home runs, did you?” So true.)

Teammates compare Howard’s drives to golf shots because they backspin out of the ballpark and don’t stop rising until they’re out of sight. “When you hit one flush, you don’t feel a thing,” Howard says. “You just hear the pop.”

Speaking of Howard, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but man, does he ever remind me of the Boogie Down’s own, Kris Parker, KRS-ONE for short.


Okay, enough with the calmness. Time to start getting amped.

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1 vockins   ~  Oct 29, 2009 1:54 pm

The guy is pretty useless against lefties. Yeah, he got that double off of CC in the first last night, but CC missed his spot by about a foot.

Against righties? Forget it. He's going to kill you. If AJ walks him in every single AB tonight, I'll take it.

I got invited by uncle to the game tonight - I'm over the moon, so amped.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 29, 2009 1:58 pm

NICE. Have a b-a-double L

3 Just Fair   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:10 pm

Howard seems like a real good dude. Him and Lil' Fielder are simply massive 1st basemen.
“When you hit one flush, you don’t feel a thing,” Howard says. “You just hear the pop.”
I can close my eyes and remember about some of the real nice shots I hit in my "glory days." Nothing better. Although I heard a ping, not a pop. : D

4 RIYank   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:16 pm

Where is Diane? She okay?

5 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:17 pm

[4]She's playing scrabble in San Francisco.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:21 pm

Hey, yeah, she's off until after the Serious. Scrabble, San Fran. Cold chillin.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:23 pm

Gillick's right about handshakes and home run power.
When Howard steps to the plate tonight against AJ, notice how your hands shake.

8 RIYank   ~  Oct 29, 2009 2:26 pm

Of course, now I remember.
I hope she comes back with some hardware, or at least awesome stories.

9 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:24 pm

[8] I just hope she didn't drive all the way to SF in the Score Truck. we need a delivery or three tonight at the (new) Stadium.

10 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:48 pm

Hairston's in RF tonight - 10 for 27 off of Pedro. Molina catches the head case.

11 thelarmis   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:52 pm

[10] is that all set, for certain?

12 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:53 pm

[10] Where is that posted?

13 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:57 pm

Lineups were just announced. I saw it on twitter from Tyler Kepner, Joel Sherman, et al.

14 thelarmis   ~  Oct 29, 2009 3:58 pm

[7] that's funny about AJ's hands shaking! but, i HATE that strong, powerful, manly handshake. it's DEATH for musicians. i'm a pretty skinny, little dude and my hands are my life. i already have early arthritis (thanks mom!) and nerve damage in my right pinkie (classical piano), plus i wear a silver ring on my right middle finger.

when you meet people, they wanna shake your hand all HARD, to show machismo, or some bullshit. OUCH, it *hurts*!!! i need those fingers to clutch my bats, which really ARE toothpicks, compared to baseball bats.

so, i generally fist bump. i'm always amazed how much this confuses people. they just don't know what to do! it's really awkward when they grab my fist and shake it. yucky feeling. then, of course, there are the macho guys who PUNCH your fist. um, that hurts, too!!!

most musicians shake softly, 'coz they know. i'm always disappointed when i shake a musicians' hand, thinking it'll be fine, and they crush me. they should know better!!!

i'm sure the above reads weird, but it's all true and i know plenty of musicians who think/talk about this! : )

15 51cq24   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:01 pm

[14] i agree with you, i never want my hand to be in danger during a stupid handshake. i'm no drummer, but i am single.

16 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:03 pm

[10] That seems a little bit crazy. So the bottom of the order will be, I presume, Melky, Hairston, Molina.


17 thelarmis   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:05 pm

[15] that's awesome, man! yeah, i hear ya on the single part - really SUCKS!!! : /

basically, the only time i'm not wearing my ring, is when i'm playing or sleeping. otherwise it's been on for over a dozen years. when someone squeezes your hand and you're wearing it, it pinches and ouches.

i guess while gillick can tell someone's home run prowess from a handshake, similarly, i can kinda tell a bit about someone's personality. i'd rather the gentle, sensitive type than the gung-ho, rah-rah, macho guy.

18 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:06 pm

rt @TylerKepner

Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, ARod, Matsui, Cano, Hairston, Cabrera, Molina vs. Pedro in Game 2

19 51cq24   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:07 pm

i actually shook hank aaron's hand once in 2002. it wasn't a particularly strong shake, but boy are his hands big.

20 thelarmis   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:10 pm

[19] very cool you met hank aaron. i've thought about going to his car dealership him to try and meet him sometime!

21 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:12 pm

not hating on Hairston, but this makes me nervous. 10 for 27 is nice, but is it large enough a sample size to risk the potential drop in defense? Swish has been pretty solid in right, no? but yeah, but he's been a black hole of suck at the plate. hmmm.

go git 'em, Hairston

22 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:17 pm

Hairston's BA against Pedro is good, but apparently he hasn't faced him since 2004. In any case, I'm fine with benching Swish. He hasn't hit in a month or more.

23 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:18 pm

I might have been willing to sit Robbie "0-12 v. Pedro" Cano, rather than Swisher...who will at least take some pitches (and whose 0-2 v. Pedro tells us nothing about his comfort level facing him).

Hideki "4-28, .450 OPS v. Pedro" would be another candidate for the big sit. Maybe a start at DH for Hinske, who has been less awful against Pedro?
Of course, Johhny "5-25 v. Pedro" Damon and Jose "1-8 v. Pedro" Molina don't inspire much confidence either.

I know Swisher has been scuffling, but I'm not much in favor of this particular move in order to deploy the secret anti-Pedro weapon known as Jerry Hairston, Jur.

24 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:19 pm

[22] Sure, but neither have other players, and Swisher actually plays decent defense in RF. This lineup looks singular bad, especially when one considers how some of the other guys have "hit" against Pedro.

25 NickL   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:21 pm

I will go on record right now as HATING the Hairston move.
Especially when combined with Molina.
A lineup of hackers is not the lineup you want against Pedro.

Swish would at least have good at bats and getting Pedro's pitch count up on a cold night will be important; I expect him to lose effectiveness fast after 80 pitches or so.

26 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:23 pm

[22] In any case, I’m fine with benching Swish. He hasn’t hit in a month or more.

Does that time frame include his .936 OPS in September and October, or his .878 OPS in August?

27 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:24 pm

we just have to hope the heretofore Magnificent 7 Yankee hitters knock the stuffin' outta the muppet.

they will.

28 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:25 pm

I sure hope Girardi knows what he's doing because from what I see, the bottom part of the order seems....well, anemic.

[23] Secret anti-Pedro weapon. At least you're maintaining your sense of humor.

29 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:26 pm

[26] 11 for his last 77, 1 hr, 4rbi...and his season long .776 ops at home.

30 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:26 pm

That includes post-season.

31 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:30 pm

[28] I'm trying.

Seriously, though, why not bench Matsui or Johnny, who have been awful against Pedro? At least that would be consistent. Girardi is using long term statistics for one player (Hairston's numbers against Pedro, from 2004 and earlier) to justify starting him over a player who is benched because of short term statistics (Swish has been bad in the PS). It's problematic reasoning to say the least.

32 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:33 pm

[30] Right, so that basically amounts to saying he should be benched because he has slumped in the PS. Maybe. I'd rather stick with the guy with longer term success...after all, Swish's poor numbers at home this season (for example) are still a significant upgrade over Hairston's career numbers. Plus we get to watch Jerry stumble around in RF.

33 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:34 pm

[31] The trouble is, the guys with the bad numbers against Pedro probably haven't seen much of him in the last 5 years either.
I do think you're downplaying how lost at the plate Swisher is. 3 of those 4 rbi and the lone HR of those last 77 ABs came in the regular season. If you just take the PS #s, they're even worse. My question is - why not Hinske?

34 51cq24   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:34 pm

[31] if he was going to bench anyone, i really think swisher was the right choice. i'm not so sure i trust any of the numbers against pedro, as he's almost completely different than he used to be (yes, he throws the same pitches, but the drop in velocity makes a huge difference (although i almost expect him to come out throwing 95)). still, i don't like hairston playing the outfield. right field is much better than left, but it still worries me.
and, like you (i assume), i think the biggest problem is molina still in there instead of posada.

35 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:37 pm

[34] Totally agreed about Posada/Molina!

36 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:38 pm

[29] ...and his season long .776 ops at home.

Interesting. The average AL player this year hit .764 OPS. So one of the criteria for benching Swisher is that he was merely above average at home.

37 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:39 pm

[36] That strikes me as a perfectly good reason to not have someone play a corner outfield position for you!

38 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:44 pm

[33][34] I agree entirely that looking at outdated numbers against Pedro is bogus. So this really comes down to benching Swisher.

I don't agree with the move, but it is reasonable considering how bad he has looked.

But if it is a matter of sitting Swish, and if we don't trust the numbers v. Pedro, why not play Hinske, who is a much better bat overall than Hairston? Or for that matter, take a flyer on Gardner starting against a RHP? At least then the OF defense might be improved slightly?

It seems that the ONLY reason Hairston as chosen to start is because of what he did against Pedro 5 years ago. And to pair him at the bottom of the order with Molina...egads. (Actually, if Girardi really thinks that Hairston has the magic touch against Pedro, why not bat him second and move Johnny down, or something similar)?

39 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:45 pm

[37] It would be, if the alternative was not worse---a BUIF with a weaker bat as your corner OF.

40 matt b   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:46 pm

[38] I think you make a lot of sense here. It would seem that if you're going to bench Swisher, you go to Hinkse for power or Gardner for speed.

Anyway, maybe Jerry will make us all look dumb and he really DOES own Pedro!

41 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:46 pm

[34] and, like you (i assume), i think the biggest problem is molina still in there instead of posada.

It is madness, but expected madness...

42 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:47 pm

[40] And then I will praise him to he stars, and Girardi for his genius!!

: )

43 monkeypants   ~  Oct 29, 2009 4:48 pm

OK, I got a meeting...I'll be back later for the game. trying to remain calm...

44 RIYank   ~  Oct 29, 2009 5:17 pm

I think all of the Girardi Binder numbers telling how players do vs. Pedro are bogus. The sample size is tiny, and as matt b. and others note they are against a different guy, practically. I too would rather have Hinske for Swish. I'm liking our chances less than I did before I saw the line-up.

45 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Oct 29, 2009 6:20 pm

Who was it that Torre would run out against Pedro? Was that Enrique Wilson?

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