Also…Hinske in, Guzman out.
Also…Hinske in, Guzman out.
According to Sam Borden at the LoHud Yankee blog, Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 in the Bronx.
That’s juicy, man.
Today’s news is powered by the one and only George Benson . . .
“This team played like a family all year long,” he said. “They picked each other up when somebody was down. They’ve got hearts of lions. They never give up. They’ve earned this, every bit of it.”
When he was asked about the Phillies, he dipped into George Steinbrenner’s answer bag again. Remember to show respect for the opponent but remember to emphasize that the Yankees, your Yankees, are probably better.
“They’re a tough team,” he said. “They’ve had a couple more days off than us. We’ll see how that plays out. But we’re pretty confident in ourselves. We got a great team. These guys get along. There’s a lot of ability, and we’re going to give them a run for their money.”
The critical question for Girardi is how to make the most use of Sabathia’s apparent indestructibility. Is he more valuable as a classic rotation workhorse, starting Games 1, 4 and 7, if necessary, on three days’ rest, or as a swingman, taking his regular turn in Games 1 and 5 and relieving in any number of other contests?
. . . Given the uncertainty surrounding the choice, Girardi’s best bet is probably to be flexible. If the Yankees are, say, leading by a run or tied in the seventh inning, with two men on base and Utley coming to bat, well, it’s time to bring in the big fella. By contrast, if there is no situation that screams out for Sabathia’s usage — and if the first few games are split, making a Game 7 much more likely — Girardi will be better off keeping his ace in reserve.
Don Mattingly was on the short list of managerial candidates in Cleveland, and wasn’t hired.
But he is speaking with the Los Angeles Dodgers about his future with that organization, and while it would be premature to say he is regarded as the heir apparent to manager Joe Torre, there may come a day when he will emerge as the leading candidate to replace Torre.
Mattingly has been talking with the Dodgers since the team was eliminated from the National League playoffs by the Phillies, according to sources, and will have more conversations later in the week. Mattingly has made it apparent that he wants to manage; he was a finalist with the Yankees two years ago when Joe Girardi was hired, and then emerged as a candidate with the Indians this year.
I was not accepted into college. Didn’t have the grades to get in. I had planned to go to art school so I focused on my portfolio (sort of), and didn’t care about grades. Then, when I changed my mind about art school during my senior year, I was in a bad spot. Not getting into any school, was humiliating.
During freshman year of college when all of my friends were away, I lived with my father in my grandparent’s apartment in Manhattan, took three classes at Hunter college, and worked for a post-production company in midtown. Economics, Anthropology and a 400 level course on Samuel Beckett. I barely passed the first two, but tackled the Beckett class with enthusiasm and earned a B.
I didn’t understand a lot of what I was reading or what the professor was talking about. But I faked it well enough (I put a lot of effort into faking it.) I’ll never forget studying for the mid-term. I was sitting at the dining room table of my grandparent’s apartment, hand-written notes covering half of the table, when my father’s friend Jim Nolan dropped by.
Jim wore a leather bomber jacket and had the rugged good looks and easy charm of the kind of blue collar hard guy that Gene Hackman or Paul Newman played in the movies. Tough but tender. Funny, but in a sly way. Not an intellectual. Not from New York.
Jim sat down with me and asked what I was studying. I told him about the mid-term and Beckett and everything I had to study. I picked up a piece of paper and said, “Nothing is more real than nothing.” He looked at me waiting for more. “Descartes said that,” I added.
Jim thought for a long moment. “Nothing is more real than nothing.” He considered it some more. Then: “You know what? I wish that guy was sitting right here, right now cause…I’d…like…” Jim thought some more. “…to…punch him right in the mouth. Nothing is more real than nothing. Yeah, I’d like to punch him right in the fuggin face.”
That’s my favorite Jim Nolan story and it jumped to mind last night as I read an article in The New Yorker about Wes Anderson. I couldn’t figure out who I wanted to punch more–Anderson or the guy who wrote the article.
I just got a subscription (a birthday gift) and this was my first issue–I haven’t read the magazine on a regular basis since I was in high school and Pauline Kael was still writing for them. And it serves me right that an over-written and meandering profile of Anderson (with talk about “mood” and “tone”), who I find hopelessly self-absorbed and precious, was there to greet me.
Pow, right in the kisser.
The Yankees weren’t the first team to wear pinstripes, but they have worn them at home longer than any other team, doing so continuously since 1915. The team that comes the closest is the Phillies, who introduced the ancestor of their current home uniform in 1950, the same year their Whiz Kids met the Yankees in the World Series, and maintained their home pinstripes throughout their 1970-1991 redesign. The Phils’ current home duds differ in a number of ways from the flannels worn by the Whiz Kids (including blue buttons on the caps, blue stars dotting the i’s in “Phillies,” numbers on the left sleeve, names on the back, a new number font, and a purer shade of red), but the gist is the same. Their non-pinstriped alternates, a variation on their home duds from 1946 to 1949, are handsome and would represent a significant upgrade on their current road unis, but their home pinstripes are classics.
Over at ESPN.com, Howard Bryant takes a look at a Boffo World Serious match-up:
This is the World Series everyone who cares about top-shelf baseball has been waiting for: a National League team that plays with an American League attitude — and actually has a power threat on its bench to play designated hitter — that features a comparable, fearsome lineup versus the pre-eminent American League team, with a $200 million-plus payroll in its inaugural year in its $1.3 billion stadium built for one purpose — to win the World Series at all costs.
How both teams arrived at the summit underscored the critical distance between each and its closest competitors, and neither has been challenged this postseason the way they will challenge each other during the coming week.
…Underneath the global issues lie delicious subplots: Pedro Martinez pitching once again against the Yankees in a pressure situation; Lee and Sabathia, the two former Cleveland aces, pitching against each other instead of as the front end of a pitching rotation as they once did. Two homer-friendly ballparks not necessarily favoring either home team will provide the stage, two rabid fan bases providing the acoustics. And there will be no shortage of stars: Cy Young winners Martinez, Lee and Sabathia; World Series MVPs Rivera, Cole Hamels and Derek Jeter; and regular-season MVPs Rodriguez, Howard and Rollins. If the World Series has been something of a dud this decade — three of the past five Series have been four-game sweeps and none has gone beyond five games, while the Series hasn’t reached a Game 7 since the Angels beat the Giants in 2002 — Phillies-Yankees portends to provide the antidote.
Game Six is a difficult to review because it seems to reach in so many different directions. Foremost is the action of the game, which carries the narrative momentum forward, and even constantly broken up by various back stories, manages to maintain coherence. Frost writes in enough detail, and with enough perspective, that even taken alone, the game sequences would never be mistaken for a newspaper recap. His description of Carlton Fisk’s famous twelfth-inning home run, allotted an entire chapter, merits a special mention for its lyricism.
Then there are the various back stories. If the action of the game is the book’s engine, then these histories are its cargo. They are what make Game Six valuable, but also at times what make it unbearably weighty. These are histories of commentators and coaches, players and owners, even of the franchises, their cities, and of baseball itself dating back to the 19th century. Their goal is a raising of the stakes. Framed by all these things, the game is meant to take on greater significance. But while none of the stories seem extraneous, their vitality and immediacy are inconsistent; some lend urgency to the action on the field, others are merely anecdotal.
These kinds of books, re-creating the past, are tough to pull off. Anyone read this one yet?
Today’s news is powered by a Waterboys song that always makes me smile . . .
Yankees GM Brian Cashman took plenty of criticism following the 2007 season when he stood by while the Mets acquired left-hander Johan Santana from the Twins in a trade for four prospects. Cashman’s reluctance to deal with the Twins looked even worse when the Yankees’ string of 13 consecutive post-season appearances ended in 2008.
However, Cashman had a reason for not pursuing Santana and signing him to the type of lucrative contract—six years and $137.5 million—that the southpaw received from the Mets. That was that Cashman wanted to save money for last winter’s free-agent class. He took his savings and went crazy on the open market, signing left-hander CC Sabathia, right-hander A.J. Burnett, and first baseman Mark Teixeira for a combined $423.5 million. The trio combined for 15.3 WARP1 this season, and the Yankees are one victory away from their first World Series appearance since 2003.
“When we added David Cone from Toronto (during the 1995 season), we were a piece away at the time,” Cashman told the New York Daily News‘ John Harper. “But when Santana became available, in my opinion we weren’t a piece away yet. So I told ownership, ‘Listen, six months really isn’t a long time to wait, though it turned out to be a long time for me, to be honest, and if we can have the patience and discipline, I can’t guarantee you we’ll be able to get Sabathia, but think about what our organization will look like if we can add him and keep these other assets.’”
The Yankees won six pennants in Andy Pettitte’s first nine years with the team. They fell three outs short in 2004, Pettitte’s first year as a Houston Astro, but Pettitte claimed another flag with the ‘Stros in 2005. Last night, Andy Pettitte punched his ticket to his eighth and the Yankees’ fortieth World Series, exorcising the ghosts of the 2004 ALCS and 2002 and 2005 ALDS with a fine performance and a 5-2 Game Six victory over the Angels.
Pettitte made just one mistake all night, a hanging curveball that man Jeff Mathis hit for a double to lead off the third for the Angels. Mathis moved to third on a groundout and scored on a two-out Bobby Abreu single. It was the only run the Halos would get off Pettitte in his 6 1/3 innings of work. Pettitte got into a bit of a jam with two outs in the sixth when Torii Hunter singled and Vlad Guerrero doubled him to third, but Hunter’s single was a chopper that didn’t get beyond the infield grass and Guerrero’s double was a bloop to shallow right that Vlad golfed out of the dirt. Andy then fell behind Kendry Morales, 3-0, but got a Morales to chop a comebacker right at his beak for the final out of the inning.
In the meantime, the Yankees put up a three-spot on Angels starter Joe Saunders in the fourth. After Robinson Cano walked and the newly Swish-hawked Nick Swisher punched a single through the shortstop hole, Melky Cabrera bunted both runners up. Saunders then pitched around Derek Jeter, walking him on eight pitches, to get to slumping fellow lefty Johnny Damon. Damon got ahead 2-0, then punched the 2-1 pitch up the middle to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. After Mark Teixeira reached on an infield single deep in the shortstop hole that reloaded the bases, Saunders walked in a third run on five pitches to Alex Rodriguez. The last pitch to Rodriguez seemed to be a strike (Alex was seen saying as much to Mick Kelleher at first base), but one got the sense that Saunders got off easy given Rodriguez’s hot hitting in this postseason. Darren Oliver got Jorge Posada to hit into a double play to end the threat, but Pettitte and the Yankees had their lead.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Juan Rivera singled on Pettitte’s 99th pitch of the night. Joe Girardi then called on Joba Chamberlain to pitch to the righty Mathis. Mike Scioscia countered with switch-hitting Maicer Izturis, thus taking one of his hottest hitters out of the game. Given his struggles in this series, Chamberlain seemed like a dubious choice with a slim, two-run lead, but Joba got Izturis to hit a would-be double play ball to shortstop. The ball took a funny bounce on Derek Jeter, but rolled right to Cano standing on second base for a fielder’s choice. Joba then got Erick Aybar to ground out to Jeter on two pitches.
Just six outs from the World Series, Girardi didn’t mess around. He skipped right over the scuffling Phil Hughes and went straight to Mariano Rivera. Rivera was greeted by a Chone Figgins single that was later plated by a single by Guerrero, but the other three men he faced in the eighth grounded out to the right side of the infield.
Nursing a one-run lead, the Yankee bats added some insurance in the eighth, again initiated by a Cano lead-off walk, this time on four pitches from Ervin Santana. With Scott Kazmir on in relief, Nick Swisher attempted to bunt Cano to second, but second baseman Howie Kendrick dropped the throw at first base leaving men on first and second with none out. Cabrera then attempted to bunt both runners up, but Kazmir babied the throw which sailed over Kendrick allowing Cano to score and pinch-runner Brett Gardner to go to third. After an unproductive groundout by Jeter, who has been battling a cold, Damon worked a seven-pitch walk, and Mark Teixeira hit a sac fly to deep center to plate Gardner and set the score at 5-2. Jered Weaver then came on and walked Rodriguez on four pitches before striking out Posada on six.
With that, Rivera popped back out of the dugout and set the Angels down in order, wrapping up the pennant by striking out pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. with a fastball up and away.
There’s a sense that the Yankees are back in familiar territory, but while Pettitte will be playing in his eighth World Series, Jeter and Rivera their seventh, and Posada his sixth, this is a first for the vast majority of the team. Hideki Matsui was on the 2003 pennant winners, Jose Molina was on the 2002 Angels, Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske were on the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox, respectively, and Damaso Marte was on the 2005 White Sox, but for the other 16 men on the roster, including Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and even home grown Yankees Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, this will be their first World Series.
One could see that difference in the celebrations. While Rivera and Posada shared a long, quiet embrace, Teixeira and Rodriguez acted like, well, like they had just won the American League pennant.
The Yankees have two days to celebrate and prepare for the arrival of the Phillies on Wednesday. With Pettitte having done his job, CC Sabathia will start Game One of the World Series in a stellar matchup against fellow lefty Cliff Lee. For the first time since 1996 the Yankees will be the challengers to the defending world champions. That’s fine by me. Feels like old times.
The Yanks have given us a wonderful season so far. It’s been as good as any in recent memory, really it has. Tonight gives the biggest game of the year, the first truly big game at the new Yankee Stadium. Here’s Cliff’s take, leftover from yesterday.
As you know, I’m generally a nervous fan, but after the Yanks lost Game Five I felt confident that they’d come back and close the Angels out in Game Six. Then there was an extra day off and now the butterflies have taken over and I’m Shook Bird like so:
I don’t remember the last time I felt this anxious.
I still say the Yanks find a way to win this series because I don’t want to fathom them not winning. As bad as things felt in 2004 I wasn’t surprised by it. The Red Sox were due. That they won in dramatic fashion made some kind of cosmic sense. I get that. But now, this is the Yankees’ time. Course the Angels won’t go out like chumps but it’s time for Good Andy and the Bombers to flex and be:
FRESH for 2009, you suckas!
Let’s Go Yan-Kees!
Not long after opening the gates to fans, the Yankees and Major League Baseball have postponed Game Six of the ALCS to Sunday night in the 8:20 time slot reserved for Game Seven. If the Angels win Game Six, Game Seven will be played Monday night with first pitch at 7:57. The delay allows the Angels to skip Joe Saunders and start Jered Weaver in Sunday’s Game Six, though that might be to the Yankees’ benefit as Saunders has handled the Yankees better than Weaver in their most recent starts and Weaver’s road ERA is nearly two runs higher than his home mark. In his last start in the Bronx on September 14, Weaver allowed five runs on eight hits and four walks in 7 1/3 innings in an Angels loss. For that reason, Scioscia will stick with Saunders tomorrow night.
The real drag would be if the Angels force a Game Seven. That would not only force CC Sabathia to pitch on Monday, pushing his first World Series start back to Game Three and eliminating any hope of him making three Series starts, but would also draw a John Lackey on three-day’s rest. It would be thrilling baseball, but I’m sure Yankee fans would rather save the thrills for the World Series.
At any rate, until tomorrow night . . .
Even if they came close to ending the series in Anaheim and likely feel a little bit diminished about having to crank things back up in the Bronx prior to the World Series, the Yankees have to feel pretty comfortable heading into tonight’s Game Six up three games to two in the ALCS with CC Sabathia lurking to pitch Game Seven if necessary. The have to because the only other option invites the ghosts of 2004 to mingle with old dames Mystique and Aura, who are still hanging their inspirational posters in the new Yankee clubhouse.
There are only five Yankees, and no coaches, remaining from the 2004 team that blew a 3-0 lead in the ALCS against the Red Sox–Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Alex Rodriguez–but it surely lingers in the minds of Johnny Damon, who was on the other side of that collapse, and Andy Pettitte, who spent October 2004 in Texas, nursing his surgically repaired pitching elbow and likely wishing he could have taken the ball for his old mates in the disastrous Game Seven.
Pettitte gets his chance tonight, looking to put the Yankees into the World Series for the first time since 2003, the final year of his initial run with the team. Alex and I both expect Pettitte to come up big, but the fact that the Yankees are 0-5 in their last two ALCS in potential series-clinching games will linger in my mind until they put a “1″ in the win column there.
Pettitte’s start tonight will be his first home start of this postseason. Pettitte struggled at the new Yankee Stadium early in the regular season. On May 7, in his third start at the new park, he gave up four home runs in six innings in a loss to the Rays. In his previous start, he had allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Angels in a game the Yankees came back to win. However, Pettitte seemed to finally settle in at the new digs down the stretch. In four home starts in August and September, he posted a 2.52 ERA and compiled this line: 25 IP, 22 H, 7 R, 11 BB, 20 K. Yes, the walks were a bit high, but he allowed just one home run in those four starts, a seventh-inning solo shot by David Murphy.
Joe Saunders is the man charged with extending the Angels’ season. Saunders pitched very well, and very similarly, in his last two starts against the Yankees, September 21 in Anaheim (8 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 0 BB, 3 K), and in Game Two of this series in the Bronx (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 5 K). With that ALCS start included, Saunders is 7-0 with a 2.56 ERA in nine starts since returning from a disabled-list stay due to a tired pitching shoulder.
Despite a tendency to overmanage in other areas thus far this series, Joe Girardi is running out his standard lineup tonight, complete with Nick Swisher batting in his usual eight spot. The only question now is if they’ll get the game in. They’ll try, primarily to avoid facing Jered Weaver and John Lackey in the final two games. At this point in the postseason, I doubt there’s much risk of losing gate due to a one-day delay.
It is warm but raining in New York.
At least the Yanks made them earn it. Okay, that’s the good spin. Of course, I’ve been mulling over the various failures–AJ Burnett, an unfortunate fastball right down the pipe to Vlad Guerrero, Nick Swisher’s final at bat, Joe Girardi’s drive to become tighter than Gene Mauch’s ass–but in a game the Angels had to win, the Yanks didn’t roll over.
Today is one of those challenging days…is the glass half-full or half-empty? Did the Yankees blow their chance or will they pick themselves off the mat and roll come Saturday night–if the weather holds up, that is. (I believe they will come out strong in Game Six.) Got too much time on our hands, either way.
Fug it, Dude, let’s go bowling.
Oh, I got the day off from work. But I live on the seventh floor of my building and they are doing work on the roof. So guess who was up early?
Oy and veh. Fug it, I’m going to the movies:
Today’s news is powered by ELO, circa 1975:
Stung by a rash of blown calls in the playoffs, Major League Baseball is breaking tradition and sticking with only experienced umpires for the World Series.
Longtime crew chiefs Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis, along with Brian Gorman, Jeff Nelson and Mike Everitt will handle the games, three people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press this week.
. . . In 24 of the last 25 World Series, the six-man crew has included at least one umpire working the event for the first time — baseball likes to reward newer umpires, plus replenish the supply of umps with Series experience.
In each of the last two years, there were three new umps working the World Series.
CB Bucknor was in line to work the World Series for the first time this year. But he missed two calls in Game 1 of the division series between the Red Sox and Angels, damaging his chance to get picked, one of the three people said.
It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
Well, at least nobody got guillotined at the end of Game 5.
First it looked like the Yankees were going to go down quietly, after a first-inning blowup by AJ Burnett; then they made a dramatic late-inning rally and took the lead in the blink of Darren Oliver’s eye; then the bullpen faltered, and New York trailed again by just one; and then they loaded the bases in the 9th inning against skittish closer Brian Fuentes with two outs and a full count, and Nick Swisher popped up. The Angels won 7-6. Now that‘s the Angels-Yankees baseball we all know and love and discuss at length with our therapists.
A.J. Burnett looked just awful in the first, and the Angels took him apart: Figgins walked, Abreu doubled, Hunter singled, Guerrero doubled, Morales singled, and when the smoke cleared, it was 4-0. The next few innings featured plenty of hard-hit balls, but Burnett – via a combination of unpredictable stuff and luck – got through them without allowing another run, and by the 4th or 5th he was in a groove and pitching well. Meanwhile, John Lackey turned in a impressive performance, and his breaking stuff was tying the Yankees in knots.
In the seventh inning, though, he finally faltered, and loaded the bases with two outs, at which point Mike Scioscia – in a move that would have been second-guessed endlessly had the Angels lost – yanked him for Darren Oliver. Lackey was furious – you could see him saying “This is mine! This is mine!’ when Scioscia came to the mound – and presumably got more so when Darren Oliver immediately gave up a three-run double to Mark Teixeira, who came out of his ALCS slump with a bang. The Angels, having seen enough of Alex Rodriguez, intentionally walked him; but Matsui singled, and then Robinson Cano whacked a triple that traveled so far, Matsui actually scored from first. The Yankees were up 6-4, and while it wasn’t the biggest comeback I’ve ever seen, it was probably one of the most sudden: boom, just like that.
But Burnett struggled when he came back out for the seventh, as Mathis singled and Aybar walked. Girardi then turned to Damaso “Gulp” Marte, who fielded a bunt and then got Abreu to ground out, but a run scored in the process. Next in was Phil Hughes, who walked Torii Hunter and then gave up singles to Guerrero and Morales. The Angels were back on top, 7-6. Mariano Rivera cleaned up Joba Chamberlain’s mess in the eighth, but although the Yankees came tantalizingly close to a two-out, ninth-inning rally (following a second intentional walk to A-Rod), they fell just short.
I’m sure people will spend much of the off-day arguing over who to blame, and that is the fan’s prerogative. But to me, while there were certainly plenty of managerial moves you could disagree with, the basic truth is that when AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes allow 7 runs to score on the road, that’s gonna be a tough game to win.
The Yankees are still up three games to two in the series, and they’re heading home to the Bronx – where, ridiculously priced half-empty oligarch seats aside, at least the fans don’t need any ThunderStix to make some noise – and so all is far from lost. With the NLCS already over, Game 6 has been moved from 4 PM Saturday afternoon to 8 at night. Andy Pettitte will be on the mound for the Yankees, and I will be at a dinner party, trying to decide exactly how rude I’m willing to be in order to check the score during the meal.
Yanks are close. But close doesn’t count, do she?
People get ready. G’wan be lots of cheering tonight as the pennant is on the line for the New Yorkers.
Give ‘em hell, boys:
Let’s Go Yan-Kees!
Tonight’s starter, Big John Lackey on how to deal with Alex Rodriguez:
“You’ve got to pick your spots, obviously,’’ said John Lackey, the pitcher tasked with keeping Rodriguez off the bases in tonight’s elimination game for the Angels. “It’s tough to pitch around one guy in this lineup because they’re so deep. But if I pitch up to my capabilities, I think I’ll be OK. I’ve had a little bit of success against him [9 for 51 lifetime, 4 homers].
“It would be nice to get the guys out in front of him. That kind of limits the damage right there. You’ve got to try to get those guys out in front of him, and hopefully he’s hitting with nobody on base.’’
(Amalie Benjamin, Boston Globe)
Speaking of Lackey, Joseph Pawlikowski over at River Avenue Blues (the blog for the city that never sleeps), weighs in with his take on the man.
And then there is AJ Burnett.
When I think about Burnett, I can’t help but think of Todd Drew. Been thinking about Todd all day, really. Todd liked AJ, loved his stuff, was a fan. After two good outings so far this October I feel that Burnett is due for a clunker. But another part of me–the part that is touched by the Todd Drew Angel from Above–wonders if he won’t be onions, hunches be damned.
Which one of these?
“This is why I signed,” Burnett said before yesterday’s off-day workout. “The opportunity to pitch in the postseason, you know. …The first year over here I have an opportunity, so I’m taking full advantage of it. I cannot wait.”
(Pete Botte, New York Daily News)
Neither can we, Meat. Neither can we.