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Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Made to Order

Hiroki Kuroda has quietly been the Yankees most reliable starting pitcher this season. He had a rough stretch early on and their was talk that the adjustment to the American League East was too much. But that hasn’t been the case overall and Kuroda had another strong start today, just when the team needed it, as he shut out the White Sox for seven innings. He struck out eleven batters–tying a career high–despite not having his best split finger fastball. The Sox only managed three singles against Kuroda.

Solo homers from the lefties Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Dwayne Wise (who added an RBI double) was enough against Jake Peavey who pitched a pretty good game minus those mistakes.

On a unpleasantly warm day in the Bronx, Kuroda and the Yanks cooled off Chicago, and for that we are grateful.

Final Score: Yanks 4, White Sox 0.

[Photo Credit: Thomas Hoepker/MAGNUM PHOTOS]

Heat Wave

Yeah, it’s hotter n July hot today in the Bronx as Hiroki Kuroda looks to stop the bleeding for the Yanks who have dropped the first two games of this series to the White Sox.

Yanks will need a Score Truck Debut today but they’re facing a tough pitcher in Jake Peavey.

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Rodriguez 3B
4. Cano 2B
5. Teixeira 1B
6. Swisher DH
7. Ibanez RF
8. Martin C
9. Wise LF

Never mind the lotion: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

 

[Photo Credit: Leonard Freed via Je Suis Perdu]

Saturdazed Soul

Photo and recipe for sweet and sour cherry jam over at Hungry Ghost Food+Travel.

Warren-ty Expired

Adam Warren dug in for the first start of his big league career tonight, dealt to Alejandro De Aza, and came up with a satisfying strike out. Let’s leave Adam Warren right there because it was mostly a mess after that and why rub it in?

The Yankees were on the board early and looked to be playing the part of a big brother protecting his younger sibling his first time out at the playground. The Yankees gave Warren a four-spot in the first, but he must have had a hole in his pocket because it was gone before he could spend it.

Girardi mercifully ended his night in the third and handed the ball to David Phelps. Phelps would be a better option than Warren to begin with – he’s been better in the Minors and looks to have better stuff based on their side-by-side comparison tonight – but he’s been in the bullpen all year and is not prepared to throw a lot of pitches. The Yankees tied it at six in the fourth, but Yankee runs seemed to bring out the worst in the pitchers. Phelps gave the White Sox the lead back one batter into the fifth.

Pitching for the White Sox was a Yankees cast-off named Jose Quintana. He had pitched well in the low minors, but he was not in the Yanks plans. They let him walk as Minor League free agent and the White Sox snatched him up.

He’s been great for Chicago so far, but the Yankees bashed him around for four innings and he seemed destined to be on the losing end whenever the runs stopped scoring. He had nothing and seeing him out there in the six was shocking.

But the Yanks went cold and stupid while the Sox tacked on more runs. The lowlight was either Robinson Cano’s brainless pick-off in the fifth or Cory Wade’s lifeless pitch to Alexei Ramirez, sporting a .563 OPS heading into the game, in the seventh. The homer helped Ramirez add .032 OPS points tonight and finished off the Yankees.

The White Sox kept scoring from there and piled up an ugly 14-7 victory. Joe Girardi’s binder must have said “14-7 = time for a position player to do some pitching.” Dewayne Wise got the last two outs so quickly the other pitchers didn’t even have time to take notes.

 

Photo via Elsa/Getty Images

 

Hot in the City

Ah, the old place. Well, the second old place, anyhow.

It’s hot out there for Adam Warren’s big league debut. The ball should be a-jumpin’, even though the White Sox are throwing a good young pitcher tonight. I keep waiting for Adam Dunn to hit one into the upper deck in right field.

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. A-Rod 3B
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Jones DH
8. Nix LF
9. Stewart C

Stay hydrated and: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit:  Laura Powers]

June 29, 1941: Games 41 & 42

The Yankees arrived in the nation’s capital to play a doubleheader against the Washington Senators, and 31,000 fans showed up to watch DiMaggio’s attempt to tie and pass George Sisler’s record. Pitching for the Senators in the opening game was knuckleballer Dutch Leonard, probably the last type of pitcher a hitter on a hot streak wanted to face. DiMaggio had trouble in his first two at bats, lining out to center in the second and popping up to third in the fourth. In the sixth inning, Leonard made the mistake of trying to sneak a fastball past our hero, and DiMaggio roped a double to left center, tying the record at forty-one straight. In the ninth inning, Tommy Henrich knocked a two-run blast into the seats, capping the scoring in the 9-4 Yankee victory and stretching the team’s homer streak to twenty-four games in a row.

But back to DiMaggio. As he prepared for his opportunity to pass Sisler in the second game, he discovered that his bat had been stolen. In these days before star players had boxes of signature bats at their disposal, DiMaggio suddenly found himself without a sword to enter the afternoon’s battle. Some weeks earlier, however, Tommy Henrich had borrowed a bat from DiMaggio, looking to change his luck. It had certainly worked for Henrich, and now, in this desparate hour, he offered it back to DiMaggio.

With his new old bat in hand, DiMaggio looked uneasily towards the second game. He usually prepared his bats by sanding the handles to the desired thickness, but there was no time for that now. Also, in what was typical of ballplayers then and now, he was quite superstitious, and didn’t like the idea of changing anything in the middle of the streak, especially not his bat, but there was no choice.

For much of the game, it looked as if the bat thief had saved Sisler’s spot in the record book. DiMaggio flew out to right in the first inning, lined out to short in the third, then flied out to center in the fifth. As he came to bat in the seventh inning, it was possibly his last shot at the record. With the crowd buzzing, he lined a 1-0 fastball into left field for a clean single. The Washington crowd, unconcerned about their team’s 7-5 loss to the Yanks, roared in appreciation of DiMaggio’s feat — forty-two straight games. DiMaggio’s response? “Sure, I’m tickled. It’s the most excitement I guess I’ve known since I came into the majors.”

Joe Gordon’s second inning home run pushed that streak to twenty-five straight, and helped the Yankees move a game and a half ahead of second place Cleveland.

Taster’s Cherce

 

Oh, man, this place looks tasty, never mind the trek to Brooklyn.

[Photo Credit: 3000 miles ’til dinner]

 

I Hope I’m an Actor…

Happy belated birthday to Mel Brooks who turned 86 yesterday. To celebrate please enjoy the following:

Mel Brooks at his Best

You’re welcome. (Yeah, I know it’s printed backwards–Hebraic, don’tcha know?–and sideways: Tilt your head dammit, tilt your head.)

Page-Turner

Underground New York Public Library is a tumblr site worth following.

[Photo Credit: Walker Evans; L.A. Observed]

Beat of the Day

Coolin’ out on a grey Friday in New York. Here’s a gem: Bill Evans in Paris.

[Image Via Love Speakeasy]

New York Minute

Spotted on on Ludlow Street between Canal & Hester earlier this spring by a pal.

Dodger graff on the L.E.S.? Well, go figure that. Never know what you’re going to find in this town.

Morning Art

“Academy Theater (Inglewood, California),” By Julius Shulman (1940)

Oh, Perthy…

Check out this reissue of a rare Ernie Kovacs album: “Percy Dovetonsils…thpeaks.”

[Drawing by J.R. Williams]

Chicago-a-go-go

Viciedo's ninth-inning homer cooked the Yankees (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Going into Thursday night, Ivan Nova had a 1.27 ERA in four starts in June. This is good, because Ivan Nova is suddenly much more important to the Yakees than he was supposed to be. A day after CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both headed to the disabled list, with Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia looming, an authoritative, effective performance from Nova was an oasis of relief — though, speaking of relief, that part of the equation didn’t go so well. The bullpen, specifically Clay Rapada and David Robertson, worked together to take turn a 3-1 lead in the ninth into a 4-3 loss thanks to a three-run homer from Dayan Viciedo. It was not a particularly charming party trick.

Any last-minute loss is a tough one, but this one was particularly so because it wasted a now-precious good start. Stinging even more was Clay Rapada’s ninth-inning throwing error, which cost the team a double play and probably the win, and the question of whether it all could have been avoided if David Robertson had just started the inning. Girardi said afterwards that he was trying to avoid overusing Robertson given his recent injury and use. I think that’s understandable, but of course Robertson ended up pitching anyway, and there’s room to second guess if you’re so inclined. It was hard not to feel for Rapada watching his postgame interview, in which he looked downright haunted, as if he had just accidentally run over Derek Jeter’s dog.

The runs the Yankees did get came from two doubles in the fifth – Alex Rodriguez knocking Granderson home, and then Cano doing the same for A-Rod – and a Mark Teixeira solo shot in the eighth. Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod ended up with a solid line, even though at times it seemed the Yankees were about to crack him wide open: 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 4 Ks, 2 ER. In fact, it was just about identical to Nova’s except that the Yankee hurler tossed an additional third of an inning, struck out one more batter, and allowed one less run.

This series also gave Yankees fans their first glimpse of Kevin Youkilis in another kind of Sox uniform, which took me aback even though I was of course expecting it. Youkilis’ odd bat-waggling stance still makes me want to yell obscenities at my TV, just because - the guy is inherently infuriating - but I’m nevertheless a bit sad about his unpleasant separation from Boston, where up til just recently I imagined he might stay for his entire career. It’s not one of the world’s tragedies, but seeing him in the Chicago uniform – and whatever other uniforms are to come – will always be odd.  He was 0-for-4 on the night.

How much panic is necessary about the Yankees’ sudden pitching concerns is still unclear, and will largely depend on your individual brand of fandom. It doesn’t sound like Sabathia will miss much too much time, though of course you never know and I just reached down to knock on the wood floor after typing that. But we will not see Pettitte again until September, at best, bringing to a crashing halt one of the best stories of this baseball season. I was in upstate New York visiting my dad when the Yankees announced Pettitte’s return; there’s not much reception where he is, and when I checked my phone as we drove through a rare three-bar zone, the news was so unexpected that I wondered if the phone was actually working properly — as if somehow I had just received a delayed tweet from 2007. That he would not only come back, but do so the tune of a 130+ ERA and regularly pitch into the eighth inning, surpassed my dreams of a best-case scenario. Even his injury was caused by a comebacker, a freak accident, not age or rust. But so it goes.

Hopefully, the Yankees have employees guarding Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Nova 24/7, preventing staircase trips and cooking cuts and fending off stray meteors, lightning strikes and coyote attacks. I want their best men on it.

Sox of a Different Color

The White Sox are in town for a game-game series, led by our old pal, Robin Ventura. No C.C. this weekend, of course. It’s up to Nova, Hiroki, and Hughes to give the team innings and good ones. Tonight gives Nova. Here’s hoping the Yanks can continue their winning ways.

Jeter SS

Granderson CF

A-Rod DH

Cano 2B

Teixeira 1B

Swisher RF

Ibanez LF

Chavez 3B

Stewart C

Never mind the medical bills: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: US Presswire]

 

Color By Numbers: Youk Got What I Need

If the opposition has the Yankees seeing red tonight, you really can’t blame them. When the White Sox take the field at Yankee Stadium, their lineup will include Kevin Youkilis, the latest rivalry castoff from the Red Sox whose .942 OPS against the Bronx Bombers is one highest in the long running feud between Boston and New York. However, Chicago didn’t acquire Youkilis before their series in the Bronx just so they could antagonize the Yankees. Rather, GM Kenny Williams jumped at the opportunity to fill one of the most cavernous holes on a major league roster. That he was able to do so with a three-time All Star was icing on the cake.

Best and Worst by Position, 2012

*DH excludes National League teams.
Note: Player in parenthesis has most plate appearances at the position.
Source: fangraphs.com

Other than catcher for the Oakland Athletics, no position has been more undermanned from an offensive standpoint than third base on the South Side. Before Youkilis was acquired, the combination of Brent Morel, Orlando Hudson, and Eduardo Escobar turned the position into the cold corner, so even with a hot start (5 for 12) by the former Red Sox’ star, it will take some time before the team’s woeful production from third base starts to thaw out.

Now that the White Sox have filled their deepest hole, the onus shifts to the Detroit Tigers, who have frittered away the benefits of having sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder by giving away outs from two positions on the diamond. In order to keep up with the White Sox, who currently reside in first place in the A.L. Central, Detroit may also need to make a deal. As the trade deadline nears, the Cubs are expected to hold a fire sale, so, who knows, the answer to the Tigers’ troubles may also reside in Chicago?

For the most part, the primary player who has helped their team lead the league in offense at each position also happens to be in line for an All Star Game start (who says the fans don’t know how what they’re doing?), leaving only Jed Lowrie and Carlos Ruiz as mild surprises. It’s also interesting to note that no team has enjoyed top production from more than one position, which speaks further to the level of parity that currently exists in the game. In the past, a team like the Yankees would dominate the “best list”, but these days, the Bronx Bombers are more of a streamlined offense. Other than second base, the Yankees only rank in the top-five at shortstop, even though they have maintained above average production at every position but left field and catcher.

Yankees’ Relative Production at Each Position, 2012

*DH excludes National League teams.
Source: fangraphs.com

Thanks to the revised postseason structure, the period leading up to the trade deadline promises to be unique, if not active. With so many teams now contenders because of the added wild card, buyers could wind up outnumbering sellers, making the cost of a trade increasingly prohibitive. By striking early, however, the White Sox were able to take advantage of extenuating circumstances in Boston to address their greatest needed without paying too high of a price (or, according to some, any price at all). Because of how well Youkilis has performed against the Yankees, fans of the team may rue the White Sox good fortune over the next four days, but with 15 games left against the Red Sox, the Bronx Bombers could also wind up being one of the early winners of the trading season.

Million Dollar Movie

I’m not much of a fan of Spike Lee as a movie director though his first three movies were events in my life. Watching those movies in the theater–”She’s Got to Have It” at the Quad, “School Daze” and “Do The Right Thing” in Times Square–are experiences I’ll never forget. There was much to recommend in Lee’s early work. Those movies had vitality and humor.

But I haven’t liked one of his feature films  in years (his best work has come in the documentary form).

His new one, however, looks promising:

As Long as it Takes

The other day, Glenn Stout mentioned this 2010 Paris Review Art of Non-Fiction Interview with John McPhee.

I hadn’t read the piece in a few years but was happy to revisit it:

INTERVIEWER: What were your first impressions (of New Yorker editor William Shawn)?

MCPHEE: He spoke so softly. I was awestruck: the guy’s the editor of The New Yorker and he’s this mysterious person. It was the most transforming event of my writing existence, meeting him, and you could take a hundred years to try to get to know him, and this was just the first day. But he was a really encouraging editor. Shawn always functioned as the editor of new writers, so he edited the Bradley thing. So I spent a lot of time in his office, talking commas. He explained everything with absolute patience, going through seventeen thousand words, a comma at a time, bringing in stuff from the grammarians and the readers’ proofs. He talked about each and every one of these items with the author. These were long sessions. At one point I said, Mr. Shawn, you have this whole enterprise going, a magazine is printing this weekend, and you’re the editor of it, and you sit here talking about these commas and semicolons with me—how can you possibly do it?

And he said, It takes as long as it takes. A great line, and it’s so true of writing. It takes as long as it takes.

McPhee is talking about writing here but I think can apply to anything. And it’s a wonderful, necessary reminder that nothing worth having comes fast.

MCPHEE: The thing about writers is that, with very few exceptions, they grow slowly—very slowly. A John Updike comes along, he’s an anomaly. That’s no model, that’s a phenomenon. I sent stuff to The New Yorker when I was in college and then for ten years thereafter before they accepted something. I used to paper my wall with their rejection slips. And they were not making a mistake. Writers develop slowly. That’s what I want to say to you: don’t look at my career through the wrong end of a telescope. This is terribly important to me as a teacher of writers, of kids who want to write.

And this:

INTERVIEWER: After you’ve done your reporting, how do you proceed with a piece?

MCPHEE: First thing I do is transcribe my notes. This is not an altogether mindless process. You’re copying your notes, and you get ideas. You get ideas for structure. You get ideas for wording, phraseologies. As I’m typing, if something crosses my mind I flip it in there. When I’m done, certain ideas have accrued and have been added to it, like iron filings drawn to a magnet.

And so now you’ve got piles of stuff on the table, unlike a fiction writer. A fiction writer doesn’t have this at all. A fiction writer is feeling her way, feeling her way—it’s much more of a trial-and-error, exploratory thing. With nonfiction, you’ve got your material, and what you’re trying to do is tell it as a story in a way that doesn’t violate fact, but at the same time is structured and presented in a way that makes it interesting to read.

I always say to my classes that it’s analogous to cooking a dinner. You go to the store and you buy a lot of things. You bring them home and you put them on the kitchen counter, and that’s what you’re going to make your dinner out of. If you’ve got a red pepper over here—it’s not a tomato. You’ve got to deal with what you’ve got. You don’t have an ideal collection of material every time out.

[Photo Credit: Peter C. Cook; painting by Paul Cezanne]

How to Gain Page Views and Infuriate People

Or: How to Insure You Won’t Get a Holiday Card from one Omar Vizquel.

Jay Jaffe examines the Hall of Fame candidacy of a gifted infielder who has enjoyed a fine, long, career. In the process, gets lumped with Jose Mesa on Vizquel’s enemies list.

[Photo Credit: Ron Vesely]

June 28, 1941: Game 40

The Yankees rebounded from the previous day’s loss by beating the A’s 7-4. In addition to the win, which put the Bombers back into first place, both streaks were also extended. Charlie Keller’s seventh-inning homerun marked the twenty-third straight game the Yankees had homered.

The pressure on DiMaggio, who entered the game just two games shy of George Sisler’s modern-day record (by now Wee Willie Keeler’s 1897 streak of 44 straight had been re-discovered), was increasing daily. Most pitchers who faced DiMaggio during the streak took the match-up as a challenge, and tried desparately to get him out with their best stuff, but Philadelphia’s starting pitcher, Johnny Babich, approached this game with a different game plan. He had made no secret of his intention to give DiMaggio nothing to hit, no matter what the count or game situation.

True to his word, Babich pitched himself into a 3-0 hole with DiMaggio at the plate in the fourth inning. He then delivered what should’ve been ball four, a pitch several inches off the plate. Instead of accepting his walk, however, DiMaggio reached out and slashed a crotch-high line drive that narrowly missed Babich and then somehow sliced into the gap in right center for a double. The nation now looked forward to the next day’s action, when DiMaggio would have an opportunity to match and pass Sisler’s record in a doubleheader in Washington against the Senators.

[Photo Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt]

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