"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: July 2010

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Take a Seat, Tough Guy

What’s up with the Yanks losing to rookie pitchers? Rob Neyer takes a look:

Afternoon Art

The Moroccans, By Henri Matisse (1915-16)

Beat of the Day

Taster’s Cherce

David Lebovitz, currently living the sweet life in Paris, gives us Candied Bacon Ice Cream.

No use steering now.

Million Dollar Movie

Man, Cyd Charisse should have been illegal. Legs for days…

From Mr. Minnelli, a classic number.

Home Movies

From the most cool Anthology Film Archives site, dig this piece of New York home movie history:

Bleecker Street, mid-Sixties (16mm)

[W 8th Street Heading West] from afarchives on Vimeo.

Most cool. The Internet wins again.

Boo

You don’t want to read a recap of this game.

I don’t want to write a recap of this game.

Indians started a 25-year-old command and control righty Tuesday night. A total non prospect with a recent violence-related arrest making his major league debut. So the S.O.B. goes out and faces the minimum the first two times through the Yankee order. The only Yankee baserunner in the first six innings against Josh Tomlin last night was Derek Jeter, who singled to start the fourth, then got caught stealing with two outs and Alex Rodriguez at the plate.

Rodriguez didn’t hit hit 600th home run. We can get that one out of the way. There was no big birthday milestone for the now-35-year-old third baseman. He did come to the plate representing the tying run in the ninth, but he tapped out to short on an 0-1 pitch. In his first three at-bats, he grounded out twice, then flew out to strand Nick Swisher at third in the seventh.

The fourth inning was the nadir. After Jeter got thrown out to end the top of the inning, CC Sabathia started the bottom of the frame by yielding a single to Asdrubal Cabrera and a double to Shin-Soo Choo to put runners on the corners. Austin Kearns followed with a hard grounder to third and Alex Rodriguez fired home to get Cabrera. The bottom of the first had ended when Brett Gardner threw out Choo at home on a single through the shortstop hole with Francisco Cervelli making a nice block of the plate. This time Cervelli had to reach into fair territory to get Rodriguez’s throw then reach to make the tag on Cabrera in foul territory. He did both successfully, but when his left arm hit the ground, the ball bounced out of his glove and Cabrera was ruled safe on Cervelli’s error.

Did I mention Cervelli was starting because Jorge Posada’s left knee is acting up on him? It’s an old injury; he has a cyst back there that causes him occasional pain, but, yeah.

After Shelley Duncan popped up, Jhonny Peralta hit into a would-be double play, but Kearns was called safe at second after Robinson Cano came off the bag too early on the pivot, and his relay throw was just a hair too late to get Peralta, so instead of ending the inning, the play loaded the bases with just one out. Matt LaPorta followed with a sac fly, and though Sabathia held the line there and both runs were earned, it mattered little with the Yankee bats unable to touch Tomlin.

The Indians scored two more runs in the sixth, which were Sabathia’s fault. The highlight there came when Joe Girardi ordered CC to intentionally walk the number-eight hitter, righty Jason Donald, to load the bases with two outs, and Sabathia responded by walking the number-nine hitter, right-handed swinging back-up catcher Chris Gimenez, to force in a fourth Cleveland run.

Even when the Yankees finally scored it was embarrassing. After Swisher was stranded in the seventh, Robinson Cano led off the eighth with a double. Indians manager Manny Acta the lifted the rookie Tomlin and brought in lefty Rafael Perez to face Curtis Granderson. Perez sent Cano to third via a wild pitch, but got Granderson to ground out to first. The play on Granderson’s grounder wasn’t easy for LaPorta, but Cano failed to come home on it. Girardi then sent up Marcus Thames to pinch-hit for Juan Miranda only to have Acta counter with righty Joe Smith, at which point Girardi counter-countered with . . . Colin Curtis? Yeah, I know he had that improbable pinch-hit homer the other day, but I’m reasonably confident that any strategy that ends in Colin Curtis has failed, even if Curtis succeeds. Indeed, Curtis got the run in with an even better-placed groundout to the right side, but that was all the Yankees got out of the inning.

In the ninth, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter led off with singles against closer Chris Perez, but Nick Swisher struck out and Mark Teixeira popped out to Cabrera in shallow center on the first pitch he saw. That set up Rodriguez to get number 600 on a game-tying three-run shot, but, as I mentioned above, he meekly tapped out on two pitches.

Indians win 4-1.

You want bright side? here’s the extent of it: Jeter went 2-for-4 and the Yankees only needed seven pitches from their bullpen, all from Chan Ho Park. That’s it. Heck, we didn’t even get to see Carlos Santana play.

Boo.

Welcome To The Big Leagues, Meat

Josh Tomlin will make his major league debut tonight by starting for the Indians. Talk about being thrown into the fire. He starts his big league career by facing the defending champs and his new team’s former Cy Young award winning ace, and could end the evening as the answer to a trivia question about a milestone home run.

Tomlin is a 25-year-old righty who was drafted out of Texas Tech in the 19th round of the 2006 draft and has bounced between starting and relieving in his five minor league seasons. He’s a strike-thrower (career 1.9 BB/9 in the minors), but despite good results for Triple-A Columbus this year (8-4, 2.68 ERA), his walks have been up (2.8 BB/9) and his strikeouts have been down (6.7 K/9, which likely translates to a below average strikeout rate in the majors).

I don’t know much more about him other than he and two members of the Double-A Akron Aeros were charged with felonious assault (later reduced to disorderly conduct) for allegedly beating up a bouncer at an Akron bar on June 3.

Outfielder Michael Brantley has been optioned to Columbus to make room for Tomlin on the roster. Juan Miranda will play first base and bat eighth against the righty Tomlin. Mark Teixeira gets a half-day off at DH. Everyone else is in their usual place.

Afternoon Art

The Piano Lesson, By Henri Matisse (1916)

Chivas Times Three

Nice  job by Mike Lupica remembering Vic Ziegel.

Thanks to my man Greg Prince for the link.

Beat of the Day

I mean you’re not going to put Charlie Parker in with the Rock n Roll, are you?

Rump-shakin’, mind-bending, smile why don’t ya?

Taster’s Cherce

 

I know, I know, we featured grilled corn a few weeks back. But it’s summer, don’t ya know, and I just can’t wait to have some good corn, man.

The Times has the article; Serious Eats takes the flicks.

Million Dollar Movie

Just Don’t Touch My Records…Ever.

 

I’m a great fan of Barry Levinson’s directorial debut, Diner. Love all the talking, all those actors (how Paul Reiser practically steals the movie in a small role).

Here’s one of my favorite scenes, about a young couple that don’t really understand each other. What I really like about it is that you can appreciate where both the husband and the wife are coming from, how deep the divide is between them. Doesn’t hurt that Daniel Stern and Ellen Barkin are in top form.

Man, I love this movie.

How Not to Win Friends and Influence People

Man, I never knew that Mitch Albom was so unpopular in the press box. I’m not surprised but still… But Mr. Albom took it on the chin last week–from Dave Kindred and Charlie Pierce, Tommy Craggs and even the diplomatic Joe Posnanski. You guys read about this? At the very least it’s an entertaining diversion.

Now That’s Progressive

The Cleveland Indians, stuck in last place in the AL Central, one game behind the Kansas City Royals, inspire such excitement that the following exchange took place during the YES telecast in the top of the fifth inning:

KEN SINGLETON (To John Flaherty): “Take a look a the light towers here. … Look at ‘em! Don’t they look like toothbrushes?”

FLAHERTY (after a long pause): “You know, I see it more looking at the shot on TV. I was looking out there and I didn’t get that feel.”

Oh yeah, exciting stuff. Never mind the fact Singleton had a point: the light towers at Progressive Field do resemble the shape of a flat-headed toothbrush.

Amid the stimulating intellectual chatter, a baseball game did occur, albeit a largely nondescript one save for the eighth inning. In the top half, with the Yankees trailing 2-1 and making Jake Westbrook look like he should be pitching for a contending team before the end of the week, Jorge Posada led off, battling back from an 0-2 count and singled to left. It was only the Yankees’ third hit of the night. Curtis Granderson followed by drilling a sinker that didn’t sink deep into the right-field seats to put the Yankees on top. The 8, 9 and 1 hitters — Francisco Cervelli, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter — went quietly to hand the lead to Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez had pitched reasonably well through seven innings. Yes, Vazquez benefited from an impatient Indians lineup that swung at anything near the strike zone, which kept his pitch count low, but he threw strikes and when he put runners on base, he did a fine job pitching out of jams and minimizing damage. It was one of those outings that had “hard luck loser” written all over it until the Granderson bomb. Vazquez faltered when handed the lead, though, walking leadoff man Michael Brantley. The hiccup prompted Joe Girardi to bring in David Robertson, who succeeded in his audition for “the 8th inning guy.” Robertson threw a first-pitch ball to Asdrubal Cabrera, but overpowered him with fastballs thereafter. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Cabrera bounced one to short that seemed to handcuff Jeter, who uncomfortably backhanded the ball but quickly fired to Robinson Canó at second. Canó’s quick turn and rocket toss to Mark Teixeira completed the double play and eased tensions. That was until Joe Girardi emerged from the dugout to take the ball from Robertson and hand it to Boone LOOGY. LOOGY did his job, though, striking out Shin Soo Choo to set up the inevitable with Mariano Rivera.

As Yankee fans, we truly are spoiled. Even when Rivera allows a leadoff hit and that runner advances to scoring position, rarely is there a doubt that he’ll pitch out of the jam. Three broken-bat groundouts later, game over.

The Yankees needed this one because Rays won’t go away. They blanked the Detroit Tigers 5-0 paced by Matt Garza finally putting Tampa on the correct side of a no-hitter. The lead is still three games and hasn’t wavered from that number since July 18, when the Yankees took two of three in the Bronx. The Yankees and Rays are the only two teams in MLB with 60 wins and run differentials of more than 100 (the Yanks are at +129, the Rays are +120). Clearly, they’re the two best teams in the game and they’re both treating games at the end of July as if they were being played in mid-September with a playoff spot and seeding on the line.

THE UMPIRES STRIKE BACK
On June 2, Jim Joyce gave Jason Donald a gift call in Detroit and in the process, took a perfect game away from Armando Galarraga. Tonight, second-base umpire Dale Scott gifted two calls to the Indians in consecutive innings. In the top of the fourth, with one out and Mark Teixeira on first base, Alex Rodriguez hit a sinking liner to left field that Trevor Crowe appeared to have trapped. It was ruled a catch, he quickly threw the ball to the infield, where Donald promptly tagged Teixeira to complete the double play. Teixeira, A-Rod, and Joe Girardi protested the call. In real speed, it looked like a trap, and the slow-motion replay confirmed it. The biggest clue was that Crowe slowed up as the ball continued to sink, and then squared up to field the ball like an infielder. If Crowe intended to catch that ball on the fly, he’d have charged it.

In the top of the fifth, with one out and Posada on first, Granderson hit a long line drive to right that caromed off the top of the wall. Choo played the ricochet perfectly, barehanding the ball off the wall and hurling a seed to second base. The throw beat Granderson by about a step, but Granderson’s slide looked to have beaten the tag from the shortstop, Cabrera. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t believe the thought that if the throw beats the runner, the runner will automatically be out.

At least neither blown call changed the complexion of the game.

Cleveland Indians II: Comin’ Up

The Yankees took two of three from the Indians at the end of May, but the Indians team they face for four games this week is better than the one they faced two months ago. Since June 27, the Indians have gone 15-9 (.625) thanks to an improved performance from their pitching staff, and a coalescing young offense.

Blue-chip catching prospect Carlos Santana made his major league debut on June 11 and has hit .270/.418/.516 since, most impressively racking up more walks (34) than strikeouts (25). Matt LaPorta, the blue-chipper received from the Brewers for CC Sabathia in 2008, returned to the majors on June 27 to replace Russell Branyan at first base after he was dealt back to Seattle, and has hit .320/.386/.560 since. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera just returned from the disabled list last Tuesday and has hit .294 in the Tribe’s four games since. Cabrera has pushed Jason Donald, the infielder received from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal, over to his proper place at second base, which should only increase his comfort level. Donald has hit .304/.366/.461 since June 10 and .321/.345/.571 in eight games at second base this year. Heck, even 30-year-old Yankee castoff Shelley Duncan is contributing, hitting .283/.359/.522 while spotting in the outfield corners, first base, and DH.

On the mound, former Red Sock Justin Masterson, who had a 6.13 ERA entering the Indians’ last series against the Yankees, has settled down with a 4.56 ERA in 11 starts dating hack to his quality start against the Yankees on May 30. Jake Westbrook, returning from Tommy John surgery, has posted a 4.38 ERA in 14 starts since May 11. Former Rays prospect, rookie Mitch Talbot, who faces Andy Pettitte’s vacated rotation spot on Thursday, has been solid all season (3.89 ERA). Ditto All-Star Fausto Carmona, who will bring his 3.51 ERA to face A.J. Burnett on Wednesday.

The Cleveland rotation did spring a leak in David Huff’s old spot. With replacement Aaron Laffey having just gone down with a bum shoulder, the Tribe will turn to 25-year-old rookie righty Josh Tomlin Tuesday night against their former ace CC Sabathia. I’ll have more on Tomlin tomorrow, but “25-year-old rookie righty vs. CC Sabathia” tells you most of what you need to know.

The Yanks face former David Justice trade bait Westbrook tonight. By providing 1,183 1/3 league-average innings for the Indians over the years, Westbrook has actually made that trade a net loss for the Yankees, though I can’t imagine many Yankee fans have any regrets about the deal. From 2003 to 2007, Westbrook posted a 4.11 ERA in 922 2/3 innings over 143 starts and 15 relief appearances for the Tribe, but in 2008 he made just five starts before going down with an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery. He then missed all of the 2009 season, but has returned to his old form this year and, in the final year of his contract, is actually considered a low-end starting pitching option for teams looking to fill a back-end-of-the-rotation hole prior to the trading deadline, teams that could include the Yankees in the wake of Andy Pettitte’s groin injury.

I still think the Yankees would be better off giving Ivan Nova a look, but that’s a rant for another day. Tonight, they have Javier Vazquez looking to rebound from a poor start against the Angels. Vazquez seems to have finally settled in as the mid-rotation starter the Yankees hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Braves this past offseason. He hasn’t had consecutive poor outings since April 25 and May 1 and nine of his 12 starts since then have been quality starts. Vazquez hasn’t faced the Indians since he was with the White Sox in 2008, which means half of the Cleveland lineup has never seen him before.

The Yankees run out their standard lineup tonight with Jorge Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. Despite his hit-by-pitch scare, Alex Rodriguez is back at third base, still sitting on 599 career homers. Nick Swisher remains in right, batting second.

(more…)

Kiss On My List

I have a bunch of things up over at SI.com today.

First, there’s my weekly Awards Watch column, which this week looks at the two Cy Young award races. Those who haven’t been paying attention will be surprised to see that Ubaldo Jimenez no longer tops the National League list. Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, who were regulars on the American League list earlier in the season, are both off but have been replaced by one current Yankee and one former Yankee that will likely send the average Bronx Banter reader into hysterics.

Then, I noticed that SI linked to the gallery of the top ten Hall of Fame classes that I ranked and captioned last year. This year’s class of Hawk, the White Rat, and God didn’t threaten to dent the list, so it’s just as relevant now as it was then and a fun read, if I do say so myself.

Finally, I have the lead baseball story for the day (until a trade bumps it) in which I take a look at five of the biggest holes on contending teams. One of those five exists in the Yankee bullpen. Dig:

Yankees

Need: Relief pitching

8th Inning: 4.74 ERA

MLB average 8th Inning: 3.88 ERA

The Guilty: Joba Chamberlain (5.66 ERA, 41 1/3 IP), David Robertson (4.76 ERA, 34 IP), Chan Ho Park (5.74 ERA, 31 1/3 IP)

Potential Targets: Scott Downs (2.41 ERA, 41 IP), Shawn Camp (2.92 ERA, 49 1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (3.60 ERA, 45 IP), Koji Uehara (2.35 ERA, 15 1/3 IP)

When the Yankees moved Chamberlain back to the bullpen, he was supposed to return to being the dominant set-up man he was in late 2007 and early 2008. Instead, he has brought the inconsistency he showed in the rotation to the ‘pen, helping to make the eighth the most problematic inning for the Yankees other than the sixth (when starters typically start to tire and relief pitchers frequently become involved). With Robertson and Park also struggling and Alfredo Aceves and lefty Damaso Marte on the disabled list, the Yankees are running out of in-house alternatives. They still have the majors best record and look like a safe bet to make the playoffs, but the defending world champions will need to lock down those set-up innings if they want to go deep into the postseason again.

Afternoon Art

The Italian Woman, By Henri Matisse (1916)

Taster’s Cherce

The best? I don’t know. But my favorite Vietnamese place in the city is Thai Son. Went with a friend last Friday night; hadn’t been there in years and was grateful to be there again.

 

Slammin.’  Take the trip to Chinatown, wait in line, it’s so worth it.

[Photo Credit: Yelp]

Beat of the Day

Cool, ‘Cause I Don’t Get Upset

I Kick a Hole in the Speaker, Pull the Plug, Then I Jet

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