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Monthly Archives: March 2010

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Yankee Panky: Paging Howard Beale

The 1970s featured some of the greatest films of all-time. On my list is Network, which starred Peter Finch, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty, among others. I believe it’s one of the greatest of all-time in large part because it’s still relevant. The theme of ratings ruling success, damn the people responsible for creating the programming, hasn’t changed. Corporations who own the networks need a positive return on their investment. Money rules. Always has, always will.

Howard Beale, portrayed by Finch, who won an Oscar for the role, is a network anchor who is fired due to low ratings. Then, he is allowed to stay on the air and responds by announcing he’s going to kill himself on television during his final broadcast. The stunt, plus his famous rant, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” leads to huge ratings over the next two weeks, in which time the network exploits Beale’s insanity rather than take him off the air.

How does Howard Beale pertain the New York Yankees? Consider the case of Joba Chamberlain. The once-upon-a-time can’t-miss phenom has come full circle. He’s back in the bullpen for the 2010, where he’ll have to “earn” his spot as Mariano Rivera’s 8th-inning bridge. Or maybe he’ll pitch the seventh inning or be a swingman. Joe Girardi still doesn’t know.

Pitching coach Dave Eiland has told anyone who will listen that even in the event of an injury to starters ace through four, or mediocrity from Phil Hughes in the fifth spot, Joba will remain the bullpen. GM Brian Cashman called him a “starter who can relieve.” Joba is taking this like Cush from Jerry Maguire: “I just want to play baseball.”


News Update – 3/29/10

This update is powered by the outtakes from a DirecTV commercial shoot featuring Girardi and Posada:

For most of the spring, I thought I’d pick the Rays to win the East. The Red Sox also have made tremendous additions. Eventually there will be a year in which the Yankees’ age will manifest itself; maybe that will be this year. But the Yankees have so much talent, and Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez are all excellent additions. If holes emerge, we know that the Yankees and Red Sox will have the resources to fill them. For the Rays, that is not the case.


Apparently Pettitte Is Creole For "A Little Rain"

Andy Pettitte was supposed to start Sunday’s game against the Tigers in Lakeland, but because of the threat of rain, Joe Girardi started his bullpen instead so as not to jerk Pettitte around in the event of a delay. Slated to throw six innings, Pettitte wound up entering the game in the bottom of the fourth and pitching a perfect inning, but the game was rained out soon after with the Yankees leading Detroit 8-0. Pettitte, who has only appeared in one other spring training game this month due primarily to two previous rain-outs, instead threw five simulated innings indoors to get up to 100 pitches total. Here’s the skinny on the three-plus innings that were played:


R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Nick Johnson (DH)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
L – Brett Gardner (LF)

Pitchers (IP): Damaso Marte (1), Mariano Rivera (1), Boone Logan (1), Andy Pettitte (1)

Big Hits: A two-run double by Robinson Cano in the Yankees’ six-run first inning.

Who Pitched Well: Everyone, but I’ll single out Boone Logan, who threw a perfect frame to continue his push for the final bullpen spot.

Oopsies: In the top of the fourth, third-base umpire Marty Foster misjudged another Robinson Cano double, this one to the warning track in left-center, calling it an out because, as he admitted to Joe Girardi, he simply didn’t see it fall past Austin Jackson’s outstretched glove. The umpires ultimately gave Cano a single, but the game was called soon after anyway.

Other: Chad Gaudin signed with the A’s.

Penned In?

Pat Borzi has a post over at Bats about Joba Chamberlain’s Yankee future…as a reliever.

Beat of the Day

Man, it’s nippy in New York today.

Kicking off a week of countrified beats, let’s go back to the old school:

Pick A Side

Ex-Tigers Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames got the job done against Detroit’s lefty starter as A.J. Burnett and the Yankees beat Nate Robertson and the Tigers’ starters 2-1.


L – Brett Gardner (LF)
L – Nick Johnson (1B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
R – Marcus Thames (DH)
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
S – Randy Winn (RF)
S – Ramiro Peña (SS)
R – Kevin Russo (2B)
R – Brandon Laird (3B)

Subs: David Winfree (1B), P.J. Pilittere (C), Jon Weber (RF), Abraham Almonte (CF), Austin Krum (LF)

Pitchers (IP): A.J. Burnett (6 2/3), David Robertson (1/3), Chan Ho Park (1), Joba Chamberlain (1)

Big Hits: A solo home run by Marcus Thames off lefty Nate Robertson leading off the fourth inning. In his other three trips, Thames walked once, also against Robertson, and struck out twice. Doubles by Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson (both 2-for-4), also off the lefty Robertson. Granderson’s was an RBI double in the first and an encouraging sign for the left-handed-hitting outfielder. It’s worth noting that every Yankee outfielder who could find himself in a platoon was in the otherwise-thin lineup against the lefty Robertson. In addition to Thames and Granderson, Randy Winn and Brett Gardner combined to go 0-for-7 with a walk taken by Gardner. Posada was on the trip to catch Burnett. Lefty-hitting Nick Johnson was the only other Yankee starter on the trip.

Who Pitched Well: A.J. Burnett walked more men than he struck out (three to two), but allowed just one run (scored by Johnny Damon after his third-inning double) on three hits and those three walks. Burnett didn’t throw any changups and said after the game that his curve wasn’t working. Kudos to Burnett and Posada for their success despite those handicaps. Chan Ho Park pitched around a double for a scoreless eighth. Joba Chamberlain, in his thrilling return to short relief work, worked around a pair of singles for a scoreless ninth. Throwing only fastballs and sliders, he struck out one and topped out at 94 mph on the gun. David Robertson faced two men and walked the first, but he only needed on out and he got it before that runner could advance.

Nice Plays: I didn’t see the game, but reportedly Randy Winn made a few nice ones in right, including one sliding catch after which he popped up and fired to Posada at first base to double off aptly named pinch-runner Michael Rockett.

Oopsies: None. Have you noticed that as we get closer to Opening Day, the players get closer to regular season form, and the minor leaguers get farmed out, there are fewer and fewer errors? It’s as if spring training actually serves a purpose and major leaguers deserve to be where they are.

Other: Spring training stats are largely meaningless, but for what little they’re worth, here are the hitting lines on a couple of 2010 Tigers who played in this game:

Johnny Damon: .341/.396/.568 (2 SBs in 2 tries)
Austin Jackson: .339/.413/.554 (3 3Bs, 3 SB in 4 tries)

Also, Ian Kennedy has made the Diamondback’s rotation, but with Jayson Heyward officially the Braves’ Opening Day right fielder, Melky Cabrera has been bumped out of Atlanta’s lineup, thus beginning his career as a journeyman fourth outfielder.

Also, note on the Upcoming Schedule on the sidebar that CC Sabathia will pitch the road day game against the Braves while Sergio Mitre will start the night home game against the Blue Jays (I originally had their assignments the other way). I assume this is to prevent the Jays from getting an extra look at Sabathia with the season almost here, but it’s just as likely to let CC have his evening off. I can’t imagine the Yankees are that worried about Toronto. The unfortunate side-effect is that Mitre will now be pitching the televised game. Unfortunate for most, that is, I’m curious to watch him pitch given how well he’s been doing this spring and the fact that he’s still in competition for the Opening Day roster.

Saturday Night Yuk

Too Much F***ing Perspective

My in-laws got my wife and I some “Bomber Bucks” for Christmas, including with the gift their babysitting services so that Becky and I could get out to at least one game this year. It was a very thoughtful gift. Unfortunately, it turns out that Bomber Bucks can only be cashed in for tickets (not concessions or merchandise) and only at the ticket windows at Yankee Stadium. Adding insult to the difficulty of finding babysitting (thanks, Mom!), spending $25 on trains, and taking a three-hour round trip from suburban New Jersey to the Bronx simply to purchase tickets, the Yankee Stadium ticket windows didn’t open for business until five days after tickets went on sale to the general public via phone and internet.

When I finally got there on Friday, piggybacking the journey on a trip to mid-town for a “Bronx Banter Breakdown” taping (three segments coming Monday through Wednesday), I was informed that there were no bleacher seats left. Period. That the only seats to Red Sox games remaining were north of $300 a piece, and that of the six Sunday games my wife and I could both make, none had two available seats together in the grandstand. After playing what amounted to a game of battleship with the amicable young woman on the other side of the glass (“May 16” “miss” “August 18” “miss” “July 25” “miss” . . .), I was finally able to use up the gift certificate on two pairs of nosebleed seats to weeknight games and a single ticket in the grandstand for a Monday night game in May against the Orioles. Remember, tickets had only been on sale to the general public for a week. Frustrated and disappointed, I stuck my tickets in my bag, wheeled around and was greeted by this:

It is a monument to corruption, greed, and the failures of our municipal and state governments to act in the best interests of the people they are supposed to represent, and a vile and disgusting insult to all but the wealthiest of Yankee fans.

. . . what they’ve really done is take affordable seats away from the common fan who can only afford to sit in the upper deck or bleachers of the current Stadium and relocated them to parts of the ballpark only the wealthy can afford. To make matters worse, the new Stadium will hold 4,561 fewer fans, and you can surely guess which seats are being slashed. With a smaller bleacher capacity, a smaller upper deck, and an increase in luxury and outdoor suite seating, the new Stadium will be spitting out fans of modest means to accommodate the organization’s target audience of free-spending fat cats.

That was what I wrote about the new Yankee Stadium back in September 2008, three days before the final game in the real Yankee Stadium, a game Becky and I would watch from the right-field bleacher seats that were ours every Sunday, Opening Day, and Old-Timers’ Day for the old park’s final six years. Yesterday, I felt the harsh reality of those words.

To be honest, my fanaticism has receded in recent years, in part due to professional necessity and in part due to the team’s stadium shenanigans, which have soured me significantly, but I still consider myself a Yankee fan. I inherited it from my grandfathers. I paid my dues as a kid growing up in the ’80s when the Mets were hip and Yankee hats were about as cool as bell bottoms and mutton chops. I indoctrinated my wife in the ’90s, and I’m not about to abandon her or that familial tradition now. I hope to introduce my daughter to the joys of baseball through her inherited Yankee fandom. I just wish the team my family and I root for wanted or even needed us just a little.

Keepin' Warm

Dude, what happened to the spring? The sun is out but man, it’s winter cold again.

Might as well warm up with some of this:

Age Before Beauty

Facing the Phillies’ starters, Phil Hughes struck out five in three innings while slotting into the fifth spot in the rotation on short rest. Jamie Moyer was better as he, Chad Durbin, and Ryan Madson dominated the Yankees and the Phillies won 3-0.


R – Derek Jeter (SS)
R – Marcus Thames (DH)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
L – Curtis Granderson (LF)
L – Brett Gardner (CF)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)

Subs: Jon Weber (1B, RF), Jorge Vazquez (1B), Eduardo Nuñez (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Kevin Russo (3B), Melky Mesa (CF), David Winfree (LF), Randy Winn (DH)

Pitchers (IP): Phil Hughes (3), Zach Segovia (2), Mariano Rivera (1), Damaso Marte (1), Royce Ring (1), Amaury Sanit (1)

Big Hits: None. The Yankees had four singles and no walks. No Yankee reached base more than once. I suppose the big hit was Marcus Thames‘ single as it got his average back in the triple digits (he went 1-for-3 and is now hitting .114) and came against a lefty (Jamie Moyer).

Who Pitched Well: Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, and Amaury Sanit each threw a perfect inning recording a strikeout each. Working on short rest so as to get in rotation as the fifth starter, Phil Hughes worked three scoreless innings while allowing just two singles and striking out five including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard in the first. He also walked four and uncorked a pair of wild pitches, though reports were that he was just missing the zone rather than being as wild as those numbers might suggest, which is something I’ve seen Hughes do in the past. He refuses to throw to the heart of the plate even when he’s not getting the corners.

Who Didn’t: Royce Ring struck out two in the eighth, but also allowed two runs on two doubles. Both runs were unearned, however. Zach Segovia wasn’t charged with a run, but he allowed an inherited runner from Hughes (who faced one man in the fourth and gave up a single) to score and allowed four baserunners (two singles, a double, and a walk) in two innings of work.

Nice Plays: Nick Swisher threw out Placido Polanco at home with the help of a nice tag by Francisco Cervelli.

Oopsies: Francisco Cervelli made a throwing error. Jon Weber, playing first base, booted a ball. Eduardo Nuñez was picked off first base while pinch-running for Robinson Cano following one of the Yankees four singles.

Cuts: Thirty-year-old Cubano Amaury Sanit was finally farmed out. He impressed in camp, striking out six in 5 1/3 innings without issuing a walk or allowing a run. He is likely headed for the Triple-A bullpen.

Other: Francisco Cervelli will be away from the team for the next two days to attend to an unspecified personal matter.

Art of the Night

Nude, by Amedeo Modigliani (1912)

Down and Out on the Beach

Here is part two and three of Pat Jordan’s spring break piece for Deadspin (and here’s part one):

It was almost 2 a.m. now, and I decided to go back to the hotel to get some sleep so I’d be sharp for the wet t-shirt contest the following afternoon. I walked back toward the hotel and passed Molly Brown’s Ladies. I asked the guy at the door if they had any kids in there, figuring a strip club was too expensive a proposition for college kids. “Yeah, we got a lot,” he said. I smiled and said, “You got any age-appropriate chicks for me? Maybe 65, 68, but without aluminum walkers?” He did not laugh. I decided, what the hell, might as well go in, but he stopped me. “I don’t want you in here,” he said. I flashed him my Gawker/Deadspin letter, but it did no good. I let it drop and walked back toward my hotel, with two thoughts: No one will let me in anywhere, and kids on Spring Break today are different from the kids in Fort Lauderdale in the ’80s. The Lauderdale kids had no money and slept in their vans. These kids stay in hotels, go to strip clubs and nightclubs and bars that are expensive. The Lauderdale kids ate at McDonald’s, and if they were lucky enough to have the cash, they stayed 10 kids to a hotel room, which they destroyed. It’s the times. There’s no free lunch anymore. Only kids with cash and plastic get to play.

Only When I’m Drunk

Roger Ebert recalls his drinking days over at Granta:

Above all we drank. It is not advisable, perhaps not possible, to spend very many evenings in a place like O’Rourke’s while drinking Cokes and club soda. Sometimes I attempted to cut back, by adopting drinks whose taste I hated (fernet branca) or those with low alcohol content (white wine and soda). Night after night I found these substitutes relaxed me enough to switch to scotch and soda. For a time I experimented with vodka and tonic. I asked Jay Kovar what he know about vodka ‘as a drink’. He said: ‘Sooner or later, all the heavy hitters get to vodka.’

Taster's Cherce

The MAN:

Beat of the Day

Card Corner Plus: Tom Brookens and Kevin Russo

With that fully formed mustache, Tom Brookens looks like a throwback to one of those tough Irish players of the 19th century. He also looks as ready as any infielder could possibly be on his 1990 Upper Deck card. As it turned out, Brookens had to be readier than most. He didn’t have much natural talent; he lacked a smooth swing, possessed little power, and had only average speed. In the absence of superior skills, Brookens compensated with an extraordinary work ethic and a high level of intelligence. Those qualities allowed him to last 12 seasons in the big leagues, while preparing him well for a second life as a coach and manager.

Originally drafted and signed by the Tigers’ organization, Brookens made it to the major leagues shortly after the arrival of Sweet Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, two fellow infielders who had come up through the Bengal system. Prized as prospects, they had far more ability than Brookens, forming one of the game’s best double play combinations for about a decade and a half. So Brookens settled for a role as a combination of semi-regular third baseman and utility infielder. He would play most of his games at third, but also be available to relieve Whitaker or Trammell at either of the up-the-middle positions.

Young third basemen often challenged Brookens along the way. There was Barbaro Garbey, who was once called the “next Roberto Clemente” by manager Sparky Anderson. Other prospects, like Howard Johnson and Darnell Coles, also received shots at the hot corner. They all had more talent than the incumbent, but Brookens outlasted all of them in a Tigers uniform. Even by the late 1980s, Brookens remained the Tigers’ No. 1 third basemen on the depth chart.

As far as third basemen go, Brookens was considered a subpar player, because of his inability to hit for either high average or power. But as a utility infielder, Brookens was regarded as one of the most accomplished role players in the game. Never complaining about his irregular role, the surehanded Brookens became a reliable defender, usually hit about .250, smacked an occasional home run, stole the odd base here and there, and gave Anderson the kind of versatility that every manager craves. By the end of his career, Brookens had played at least one game at every position, with the exception of left field and pitcher. If given the chance, he probably could have filled those slots, too.


You Make Bath Time Lots of Fun

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is getting good reviews. Looks like it could be good for some cheap laughs (and is there a better kind of laugh than a cheap one?).

From A.O. Scott’s write-up in the Times:

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is the poignant story of three men, adrift in their 40s, who try to recapture the lost joys and squandered possibilities of their youth. I’m not entirely joking, though the movie itself is a nonstop barrage — somewhere between a riot and an orgy — of crude, obnoxious gags and riffs. If you are a connoisseur of sexual, scatological or just plain stupid humor, you will find your appetite satisfied, even glutted. But viewers of a certain age and background — let’s say those who know the lyrics to “Jesse’s Girl” by heart, even if they never really liked that song — are likely to endure the merry anarchy with a twinge of pained, slightly nauseated nostalgia.

…The undercurrent of misogyny and homophobic panic that courses through most arrested-development, guy-centric comedies these days is certainly present here. But unlike, say, “The Hangover,” which sweetens and sentimentalizes its man-child characters — allowing them to run wild and then run home to Mommy — “Hot Tub Time Machine” is honest in its coarseness and pretty tough on the fellows who are the agents and objects of its satire.

I’m downski.

Art of the Night

Blue II By Joan Miro (1961)

After The Job Is Gone

Brad Bergesen and company shut down the Yankees road lineup while the Orioles hitters beat up on Alfredo Aceves. Orioles win 8-0.


R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Nick Johnson (DH)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Marcus Thames (LF)
S – Randy Winn (CF)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)

Subs: David Winfree (1B), Justin Snyder (2B), Kevin Russo (SS), Ramiro Peña (3B), P.J. Pilittere (C), Jon Weber (RF), Greg Golson (DH)

Pitchers (IP): Alfredo Aceves (2), Boone Logan (1), Sergio Mitre (2), Chan Ho Park (2), David Robertson (1)

Big Hits: A double by Randy Winn who had three of the Yankees’ five hits, picking up a safety in each of his three at-bats. Winn is now hitting .259 on the spring (7-for-27 with a walk, a double, and seven Ks).

Marcus Thames, meanwhile, is hitting .094 (3-for-32) with just one walk and no extra-base hits after going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. Joe Girardi keeps talking about Thames’ track record, and it still seems as though Thames will make the team. That should tell you just how much spring performances really matter. Thames came into camp with a huge lead on his lone remaining challenger, David Winfree, a 24-year-old with 116 games of experience above Triple-A and none in majors. Winfree, who went 0-for-1 in this game and is hitting .263 (5-f0r-19, also with one walk and no extra-base hits) on the spring, likely hasn’t done enough to close the gap. Still, it’s interesting to see the Yankees giving him some work at an infield corner as he has played 250 games at the hot corner as a pro and thus offers some versatility that Thames, who has a strong arm but a glove and feet made of lead, doesn’t.

Who Pitched Well: Chan Ho Park worked around a pair of singles while striking out two and walking none for a pair of scoreless frames. David Robertson stranded a single and a walk in a scoreless ninth.

Who Didn’t: Alfredo Aceves‘s first poor outing of the spring was his last, and this one was worse. He gave up six runs (five earned) on a pair of walks and six hits, including a two-run Adam Jones homer, while striking out no one. He pitched to four batters in the third, but failed to get an out before getting the hook.

Who Did Neither: Competing for the final spot in the bullpen, Boone Logan came in with two on and none out and got a groundball to second only to have Robinson Cano throw it away and let both runs score and the batter reach second. That batter-runner then scored on a pair of productive outs before Logan got out of the inning. You can’t really blame Logan for the first two runs, but the third kept him out of the “Pitched Well” category. Meanwhile, his competition, Sergio Mitre, gave up a run on a walk and a pair of singles in his two innings of work. Neither pitcher struck out a batter. Logan gets the edge there for not allowing a hit or a walk, but it wasn’t a convincing victory.

Oopsies: Robinson Cano made a big throwing error in the third that let two runs score and put a third in scoring position that later came around on a pair of productive outs. It was his first error of the spring.

Other: CC Sabathia got lit up by the Phillies’ Triple-A campers, allowing seven runs on a walk, a hit batsman, and seven hits, including a pair of homers while using up 88 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings. Remember, CC was 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA after his first six starts last year and 18-5 with a 3.06 the rest of the way. In 2008, he was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA after four starts and 17-7 with a 1.88 the rest of the way. The big man takes a while to get rolling. Don’t sweat his performance until May. In other rotation news, Chad Gaudin was released. I already dealt with that likelihood in my Mitre post on Tuesday.

Wrecks N Effect

Check out this great site if you’ve got the stomach. It’s about as depressing as it gets:

Scrolling through pictures of the wreckage, all I hear in my head is this tune:

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver