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Category: News of the Day


Jackie Robinson & George Shuba, Opening Day April 18, 1946
© Mike Shuba, from the webpage The Undefeated from an article by William Weinbaum

What does it all mean? Tracing great events and legacies back to simple moments floating ephemerally in time, waiting for the moment to enrich our understanding of humanity. Through good and bad times.  For richer or poorer. Greatness and scorn.  We live in our moments and pass along to the next, hoping to hold onto the greater fo these and pass along the erst, yet some return to bring either destruction or construction.  In this case, let us say we as fans of baseball should always grab hold of moments like this no matter when they reveal themselves again; such as the light traversing the cosmos they bring revelations through time that may stir even greater events in our own time.

This article, written by William Weinbaum for ESPN’s The Undefeated, touches on such light, describing the powerful significance it has in store. Thank you, Mr. Shuba and Mr. Robinson, for this touching and informative moment, and thank you to Mr. Mike Shuba and Mr. Weinbaum for your diligence in rediscovering and bringing this moment along with the memories and lessons it conveys back to tour time.

Suspension Bridge

A fundamental tenet of communication theory is that because the purpose of communication is to transmit information, it is irreversible. There are no “take-backs.” Apologies for verbal or written foul-ups are hollow. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. We live in an era right now where companies and universities are doing background checks on prospective employees and students by scouring Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds and other social media activity. A regular person has nowhere to hide. Public figures are under much greater scrutiny.

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen learned that the hard way.

Not that he has ever hidden. He is no stranger to opening his mouth, inserting his foot, and still managing to demonstrate the capability to land in trouble. His latest misstep earned him a team-levied five-game suspension. The blogosphere and conservative baseball media population exploded. The first four words of Sean Gregory’s profile in Time Magazine are Guillen’s damning quote: “I love Fidel Castro.” He would go on to say he respected Castro’s survival skills, and that‘s what he loved about Castro. Communication is irreversible. No way to talk around that.

Guillen manned up. He didn’t put out a statement. He was contrite, apologizing to the Marlins and to the Cuban-American community that has helped make Miami the multicultural center it has become.

The aftermath and the analysis has been a series of contradictions. A combination of liberal versus conservative and wanting to have it both ways. The same people that in the past who have called Guillen “refreshing” for speaking unfiltered and disregarding the art of saying nothing, are now condemning him. Steven Goldman expresses his libertarian view at Bleacher Report:

…Those who are standing on the sidelines sniping and calling for suspensions and termination need to consider their own motives. Moral outrage is cheap when the target has been so spectacularly, in Guillen’s words, “dumb.” This is shooting Marlins in a barrel. It’s much harder to stake a stand on an issue that is in the grey zone, when others might snipe back at you.

He continued…

Let us be clear: There is a difference between suggesting the Marlins needed to suspend Guillen to appease the Cuban-American community and another to argue that the quality of his remarks themselves deserved suspension. The former is what political bloggers call “concern trolling,” posing as a helpful pal of some third party that really doesn’t need your advice, thanks. The latter is, first, un-American, not in terms of the Bill of Rights—this is not a First Amendment matter given that your employer can censor you in the workplace all they want—but that any call that encourages punishment for speaking one’s mind, no matter how offensive, should be antithetical to our very being.

Ken Rosenthal may have been one of those Goldman observed “standing on the sidelines sniping.” Monday, in his FOX Sports column, Rosenthal called for the Marlins to suspend Guillen. He wrote:

Good people make mistakes, and Guillen just made the biggest of his career. Chances are the matter will blow over; everything seems to blow over in this society of limited attention spans. But the Marlins shouldn’t allow it to blow over. No, the Marlins should take a stand.

Suspend Guillen.

Not because a protest group wants him out.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

There is outrage in Miami. There is outrage among the Latino community, not just the Cuban-American population in Miami. The juxtaposition of Guillen’s comments with the opening of the Marlins’ new stadium in Little Havana has much to do with that. Dave Zirin notes this in his latest piece at Edge of Sports.

Loria desperately needed a hot start for his team and some sugary sweet media coverage for his new ballpark. Then his new manager Ozzie Guillen decided to share his views about Cuba and Fidel Castro. … This issue is…now about whether the ire produced by Guillen’s words will be directed against Loria, his grab of public funds, and the entire Miami baseball operation. If that happens, this issue won’t die, but the Marlins might.

Keith Olbermann, speaking as a guest on Dan Patrick’s radio show, said that sports provide a forum for us, the public, to address sensitive social issues. That “sports are well ahead of the rest of society on these issues.”

The blog Platoon Advantage would beg to differ.

…It’s certainly understandable why the Marlins felt like they needed to react.

Though they didn’t feel the need to respond when team president David Samson called the people of Miami stupid. …There are dozens and dozens of equally or more foolish and offensive things done by Major League players, managers, coaches, front office types, and officials every year. And these offenses don’t get investigated by the Commissioner. These offenses don’t earn team-levied suspensions. These offenses don’t get noticed at all, despite the real damage they do to the communities where they happen. If we’re going to have such a low standard so as to punish Guillen for making a bad joke (make no mistake, there’s no way to honestly construe what Guillen said as a statement of support for Castro, his tactics, or his regime), where are the suspensions for everyone else who makes baseball look bad?

What can we learn from all the coverage? We know Guillen’s comments were wrongheaded on many levels. We know those comments will be available forever. We know that there is heavy criticism, much of it founded, much of it personal. We know that all of it is irreversible. And yet again, we learn that no matter how hard the general sports fan wishes politics and sports to be separated, they are inextricably linked.

[Photo Credit: Al Diaz and C.M. Guerrero/ Miami Herald]

Get the Papers, Get the Papers

Here’s the latest Yankeeness from around the web:

Kevin Kernan on Mariano Rivera:

He revealed to The Post yesterday he will announce his decision before midseason.

“I have to fight for my salvation,’’ Rivera said. “I have to work for that. That is what makes a real closer. That is the game I would love to close. That is what drives me.

“These are only games, now we are talking about lives. There is nothing better than that. That’s closing the deal.

“There is definitely a higher calling. I’m not a man to talk about fame or what I have accomplished, none of that stuff. To me that is good, but it is not important.

“If I can get hold of a teenager and tell him, ‘You know what, Jesus loves you, He cares about you and your family,’ that is the message. That’s what I want to do.’’

Rivera, 42, appears to be preparing himself mentally to move on and is savoring each baseball day. He wants to make sure his final decision is the correct one, and that’s why he has yet to announce it.

“I think maybe it will be before the All-Star break,’’ Rivera said of when he will make that announcement.

Chad Jennings on yesterday’s action (and this post on Hiroki Kuroda who will pitch today). Wallace Matthews has more on Kuroda over at ESPN.

Anthony McCarron on C.C. Sabathia.

Mike Axisa looks at regression candidates for 2012 at Rivera Ave.

Gabe Lezra crunches pitching numbers at IIATMS.

SG looks at what we might expect out of Alex Rodriguez at Replacement Level.

And finally, check out this great old news clip on Sparky Lyle dug up by Steve Lombari over at Was Watching.



Observations From Cooperstown: The Old Guard, Chavez, and Stone Gloves

So just how long should the Yankees wait before making some kind of move with Derek Jeter and/or Jorge Posada? While it’s become fashionable to proclaim both players as fully cooked and ready to begin their five-year waits for Hall of Fame consideration, those calls convey ignorance and a lack of knowledge about the Yankee organization. First off, it’s foolish to make full judgments based on the first month of the season. The same people that always cry out “sample size” conveniently forget about the principle when it involves players they don’t like. Jeter has been so reviled by some in the Sabermetric community that they’re ready to drop the guillotine at a moment’s notice.

His critics will quickly add that Jeter’s poor performance is a continuation of his 2010 finish, but his overall 2010 numbers were hardly as bad as what he’s done early in 2011. On the whole, Jeter was a passable player in 2010. So let’s give it more than a month before we proclaim a death knell. I would suggest the Yankees give Jeter at least until the end of May, if not until the middle of June, before they drop him to a lower spot in the batting order. And if his lack of hitting continues beyond that, let’s say into July, then it would certainly be fair for the Yankees to consider removing him entirely from the starting lineup.

There is another reason to have patience. Who exactly is ready to step in to become the starting shortstop? Bucky Dent and Tony Kubek are not available. Eduardo Nunez’ throwing problems make it clear that he’s not ready NOW; he might be later this season, he might be in 2012, but he’s clearly not ready at the present time. Ramiro Pena, starting at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, is an excellent defensive shortstop but isn’t likely to represent any improvement over Jeter’s current hitting. Are Yankee fans really ready to wade through a bottom-third of the lineup that has both Pena and Brett Gardner? I know I’m not.

Then there’s the case of Posada, who’s coming off a respectable season in 2010. Would it be smart to give up on Posada so quickly, especially when he’s at least shown significant power over the first 30 games? I don’t think so. I would suggest a similar timetable with Posada. If he’s still struggling badly at the end of May, it would be fair to consider a platoon with another player, perhaps Andruw Jones. And if Posada is still struggling into July, and the Yankees are in danger of falling out of contention, then yes, it might be the right time for a total replacement.

In the case of Posada, the Yankees DO have tangible replacement options. Jones is one; the other is super prospect Jesus Montero, who is close to being ready to hit in the major leagues, if not handle regular catching duties. (Montero is finally drawing a few walks and has his batting average up to .372.) Montero could be just what an aging offense needs, particularly if Jeter’s punchless hitting continues. The problem with demoting Posada is what to do with him? Teams do not need backup DH’s who cannot play the field and cannot run the bases. Unless the Yankees change their mind about using Posada as a backup catcher, he could become a roster albatross by the middle of the summer.

It’s certainly possible that Posada and Jeter, who’s been nicknamed “Captain Groundout” by Rob Neyer, might be done as useful players. It’s just too early in a long season to draw that conclusion once and for all. So let’s give it a little more time before we make them walk the plank…


On the Shelf…

Here’s George King with the latest on Phil Hughes

[Photo Credit: NJ.com]

What Next?

So no bad news is good news for Phil Hughes. Here’s Ben Shipgel in the Times:

All of Hughes’s tests Monday came back negative for circulatory and vascular problems, the Yankees said. The development deepens the mystery regarding Hughes’s lack of arm strength but spreads a feeling of relief that thoracic outlet syndrome is not the cause.

“I’m not sure if he has that, what they have to do and how long you don’t have him if that’s what he has,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “It makes me feel better.”

Hughes traveled to St. Louis to meet with Dr. Robert William Thompson, a renowned vascular surgeon, to confirm or to rule out that he had thoracic outlet syndrome.

Now he will return on Tuesday to New York, despite having a locker set up for him in the visiting clubhouse, to rehabilitate his shoulder as the Yankees redouble their efforts to discover why it feels numb when he pitches.

Curious. Very curious.

Rainout III: Son of Rainout

This is going to be one of those years, isn’t it? Where instead of spring, it just rains for months and then gets hot. Ah well: tonight’s Yankees-Orioles game is a no-go due to the inclement weather, the Yanks’ third rainout already in this young season, and their second with the Orioles. We’ve got some doubleheaders to look forward to down the road.

Meanwhile, I’m still all out of sorts about Bud Selig’s new expanded-playoffs plan. And I’m not a purist – I like the Wild Card, but ten playoff teams? One third of all teams making it to the postseason? I think that’s too many. Now, we don’t have details yet, so I will try to (try, not necessarily succeed) keep an open mind…. but it seems like a money-grab to me, rather than something that would improve baseball for most fans. We’ll see what the actual plan is when all’s said and done.

Better news: Francisco Cervelli is ready to play in rehab games. There’s nothing like a Gustavo Molina to make you appreciate your regular backup catcher, eh? Thing is, as of now, Molina’s only played in one single solitary Yankees game. If the team can somehow make it through Cervelli’s broken foot while using Molina only once, I will be impressed and amused. And I’m guessing Russell Martin will be tired.

Speaking of Russell Martin, the other day Brian Cashman talked about him:

“He’s the toughest Yankee,” Cashman said. “He’s as tough as nails.”

Is Martin the toughest Yankee? In a clubhouse that includes Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, who each have five World Series rings, has Martin already soared to the top on the tough-guy meter? According to Cashman, he’s soared even higher.

“He’s Thurman Munson-tough,” Cashman said.

Look… I like Russell Martin a lot. He’s been fantastic. I think he was a very smart addition to the team, and I don’t doubt that he’s plenty tough. However: “Thurman Munson-tough”? No. No, no, no, no, no. Nope. Come on.

[Photo from Old New York]

2011 New York Yankees, Assemble

Well, the Yankees pretty much have their team together now — yesterday they crossed most of their t’s and dotted the bulk of their i’s.

Eric Chavez? In.

Edward Nunez? More reluctantly in.

Austin Romine and The Jesus? Minors, AA and AAA respectively.

Gustavo Molina? In, and may god have mercy on your soul.

Mark Prior? To A-ball, for the weather.

Romulo Sanchez? Sold to a Japanese team.

Ronnie Belliard? Fed to the sarlacc.

Things will change, of course, especially this year. I don’t know which of Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova will spend all season with the Yankees, but I very much doubt it will be all three. And this Molina situation (that’s what I insist on calling it – “this Molina situation” or “this Molina issue”) is very much temporary. I really like the Eric Chavez signing, and I like that Edward Nunez will not, barring disaster, see much playing time. The core of the Yankees is another story althogher  – we’ll get a lot of C.C. Sabathia and Robbie Cano and so forth, with just a soupçon of Colon. If you will.

Still: the Yankees’ fringes are quite fringe-y this year, aren’t they? I suppose not much more than usual – but having the two rotation spots to plug up somehow rather than the standard one does give the roster a bit of a different feel.

I’m guessing this won’t be a popular choice in these here parts, but in my preseason picks for Baseball Prospectus and The Daily, I had the Red Sox winning the division and the Rays getting the Wild Card, with the Yankees coming in a respectable third. I could easily be wrong, of course – I very often am  – and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if the Yanks finished better than that. I don’t think they’ll be a bad team, by any stretch – it’s just that the AL East is so tough, and looking at the Yanks’ pitching, I don’t see it being enough.

I’m sure looking forward to finding out, though.

Beware of Molinas, Part 17: The Molina Is Coming From INSIDE THE HOUSE!

While no formal announcement has been made, it sounds like Gustavo Molina will probably start the year as the Yanks’ backup catcher. He’s not one of those Molinas, but he is a catching Molina (it’s not just about blood) and I am therefore wary. The Yankees would have some valid reasons for choosing him: Montero and Romine aren’t ready behind the plate and would be better served by playing every day, and Molina is an excellent defensive catcher.

In fact I’ve never seen Molina play – but you know how I know he’s an excellent defensive catcher? Because, in his major league career, he has hit .122/.158/.146 with zero home runs and an OPS+ of -19. Yeah. They’re not keeping him around for his bat.

Of course, his “major league career” is only 23 games and 45 plate appearances over four years. If you look at his minor league numbers, over 11 seasons, they are significantly better — but still pretty lousy. I never expected to miss Francisco Cervelli so very much. But it’s spring, and a new season, and a time of optimism and hope generally, so who knows? Maybe Molina will guide Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett to success while improving his batting average to something crazy like .200. Stranger things have happened. Probably.

Then again if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times… beware of Molinas, dammit.

Slaves … TO the Game or FOR the Game?

Mr. Greene, my 8th Grade Social Studies teacher, posted a message on the blackboard on the first day of classes:

If you don’t know the answer to a question, bluff by speaking the word, “economics.” More often than not, you’ll be right.

Heady stuff to tell a bunch of 12-14-year-old kids who had little idea how the world works. I mention Mr. Greene’s message because it was written in the context of the first unit that year: The Civil War, and the major causes of it. Slavery, the major cause of the War that began 150 years ago this year, is certainly a cultural issue. At its core, however, it is — and was — an economic issue.

The slavery analogy has been made to describe the economic, racial and cultural divide in professional sports since the late 19th Century and the immediate aftermath of Jim Crow and Plessy v. Ferguson. Adrian Peterson’s use of the word, uttered in an interview to Yahoo! Sports, is news because, as Dave Zirin wrote, “he went there.” A black athlete making a slavery analogy, in a sport with white owners, is drawing heavy criticism from mostly white media media members. We’re still having this discussion? The cast is different but the colors are the same? The NFLPA, led by a dynamic black man in DeMaurice Smith, has hinted at exactly what Peterson said. He just didn’t use the word.

The three lead plaintiffs in the class-action suit against the NFL — Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — may agree with the slavery analogy, but by virtue of their pigmentation, couldn’t dare use it. What level of criticism would they receive?

In my Sport Sociology studies in college, racism, along with gender equity, were the two most frequent issues discussed. The seminar my senior year was devoted to the topic, specifically in the sport of boxing.

I’m not of the mindset that someone making millions of dollars has no right to use the term “slave.” I am of the mindset that the rampant criticism for his word choice is undeserved. Peterson, like Brady, Brees and Manning is one of the most visible players in the NFL. Maybe not necessarily in that order, Peterson, Brady, Brees and Manning are the top four picks in most Fantasy drafts. Why shouldn’t he present his viewpoint?

Zirin’s full article can be found here. If you’re interested in sport history and culture, it’s a good read. His mentions of Curt Flood, whose struggles against the Reserve Clause were profiled by Alex Belth profiled in a 2006 biography, Stepping Up, are poignant and insightful.

As for the discussion of slavery, it still exists in this country; just not in the form that it once did. Context rules. Do you believe Peterson’s comment was taken out of context? Is the comment more socioeconomic or sociocultural?

One thing is certain: the debate is not going to end any time soon.

[Photo Credit: Zimbio.com]

Unfortunate Publicity for James Buchanan's Scotch Whiskey

Say what you want about Joba Chamberlain’s weight, at least he seems (thus far) to have learned his lesson regarding driving under the influence. Slipping back into destructive behavior this spring, though, is Miguel Cabrera, who got arrested last night on DUI charges and then some. Per the TCPalm, when police arrived:

Cabrera, of Boca Raton, grabbed a bottle of James Buchanan’s Scotch Whiskey and started drinking.

…Cabrera, whose eyes were bloodshot and speech “heavily slurred,” was handcuffed and walked towards a patrol vehicle before being told to get in the vehicle.

“Do you know who I am, you don’t know anything about my problems,” Miguel Cabrera is quoted as saying.

A deputy reported Cabrera was put in handcuffs after not following orders. Cabrera also “kept running out in the road with his hands up.”

A deputy asked Cabrera to get his a patrol vehicle, and he said, “(Expletive) you.”…

Yikes. And this mug shot is not at all reassuring:

I’ve had a special fondness for Cabrera ever since 2006, when in the 10th inning of a game against Baltimore, he swung at an intentional walk pitch that wasn’t far enough outside and knocked a single into center field, leading to a Marlins win. It was just an awesome moment, and while I’m sure it’s happened at some point before in baseball’s long history, I’d never seen it before, and was delighted. I don’t know how long this video will be up (since MLB still doesn’t understand how to interact with fans online and insists on removing every 3-second clip of free advertising anyone puts up), but here it is for now:

Anyway, needless to say his epic screw-up in 2009 took some of the shine off, but it’s sad to see such a fun player careening off the rails. (Probably unnecessary disclaimer: of course, from a human standpoint, it’s sad no matter who it is.)

Meanwhile, over in Dodgers camp, a somewhat different kind of freakout: a day after his agent said that reliever Ronald Belisario might not be able to play in the US this year because of visa issues, Belisario says the delay is simply the result of a lost passport. From the LA Times Dodgers’ blog:

Ronald Belisario told a Venezuelan newspaper that he lost his passport and that he should be able to report to camp soon after obtaining a new one.

But that’s news to Belisario’s agent, Paul Kinzer, who said on Wednesday that his client will probably miss the entire season because of his inability to gain legal entry into the United States.

“That would be news to me,” Kinzer said. “I hope that’s true.”

Kinzer said he has lost touch with the hard-throwing reliever, who hasn’t reported to camp on time for the third consecutive spring.

“He’s gone kind of quiet,” Kinzer said. “I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks.”

That’s just… really weird. Missing passport or no – being late to camp (again, and just a year after treatment for substance abuse) and not even checking in with your agent is a sign that something is very off.

So, it’s been kind of a rough first week of spring training so far for a few teams. Maybe baseball needs to develop a more aggressive substance abuse program for its players, or tougher rules about getting help, counseling, or rehab after incidents like this. And maybe let’s ease off Joba’s extra 15 pounds, at least until we see how he pitches. There are problems and then there are problems.

News Update – 4/1/10

This update is powered by Dick Enberg, who is leaving the NCAA Final Four coverage for good, but joining the Padres broadcast team:

  • Our own Cliff Corcoran is part of trio of bloggers asked by the Times to assess the 2010 Yankees


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.


News Update – 3/25/10

This update is powered . . . by a song about Canada, sung in German, by animated cartoon characters:

Instead the key date is March 31 at 2 p.m. That is the deadline to release players with non-guaranteed contracts and owe just 45-day’s pay. So if the Yanks are unable to trade Gaudin between now and then, they almost certainly will release him and pay him that severance, which will be around $720,000.

Since the Yanks are obligated to that amount, I would assume they would be willing to pay at least that much of his salary as part of a trade and, perhaps, a bit more. The one advantage of having Gaudin pass through waivers is that the Yanks can send him to the minors. But there is no chance they would pay him $2.9 million to begin in the minors. After paying the $720,000, they could re-sign him at a lower rate and send him to the minors, but Gaudin probably would not accept that since he likely can find major league work elsewhere if the Yanks outright release him.


News Update – 3/22/10

This update is powered by . . .vintage Genesis:

  • A rainout calls for some imaginative thinking:

. . . A rainout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday allowed the Yankees’ players to knock off early, but for the manager, it created — in his words — a mess.

While heavy rains pelted the tarpaulin outside, Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland huddled with a head-scratcher of figuring out how to make sure eight pitchers could get into action on Monday thanks to the canceled game.

. . . The solution, it was decided, was to create another game. After checking with other clubs to see if anyone could spare hitters to play an unscheduled split-squad game, the Yankees opted to create their own.

In front of thousands of empty blue seats and few other witnesses, the Yankees will field two teams at their home stadium on Monday morning. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte will hurl for one squad, with Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park and Dave Robertson firing for another.

Then in the game that is printed on the schedule, A.J. Burnett will start against the Phillies on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET in Clearwater, Fla., with Phil Hughes serving in relief.

Problem solved, providing Girardi and company one long morning and afternoon to evaluate Chamberlain and Hughes in the ongoing battle to complete New York’s rotation, a decision Girardi hopes to make by March 25 or 26.

That baby-faced 24-year-old, Yankees manager Joe Girardi says, might pitch the eighth inning this year. Of course, this is the spring. Of course, this could be just the manager talking. And of course, the team still needs to hammer out it’s starting rotation and see where pitchers like Alfredo Aceves and Joba Chamberlain land.

But Girardi says he has enough confidence in Robertson – four runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring – to use him as a “guy who can pitch for us anywhere now.”


News Update – 3/18/10

This update is powered by the late, great Gilda Radner:

Back on Monday.

News Update – 3/15/10

This update is powered by . . . my favorite Natalie Merchant song:

(Batting Coach Kevin) Long said Montero reminded him of Robinson Cano — “another kid who can wake up out of bed and hit.” He has already shown a consistent ability to put the barrel of his bat on pitches and hit to the opposite field, and the Yankees are most impressed with his gift for making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and from pitch to pitch.

Cashman recalled an instance from last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, when Montero, after falling behind to Jesse Crain, 0-2, sensed that an outside breaking ball was coming. It did, and Montero poked it down the right-field line for a double.

“It’s amazing that at 20 years old he’s a .320 lifetime hitter,” Long said. (Montero’s career average is actually .325.) “But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man. He’s got to do it in a hurry because he owes it to the organization. He owes it to everybody around him.”

. . . According to the Yankees, Montero usually needs 1.9 to 2.0 seconds to catch and throw the ball to second base, whereas an elite catcher, like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, can do it in about 1.7. Long after his teammates had finished their morning workout Saturday, Montero remained in the Yankees’ bullpen to work on his throwing technique with Girardi.

(Catching instructor Tony) Pena said: “He has a strong arm — a very strong arm — but he can’t rely on that. If he has the proper mechanics, everything else will take over, and then we’ll have what we like.”

“He’s just doing what he does,” Girardi said, adding: “What I’m most happy about is he’s ahead in the count all the time. He’s strike one, 1-2, lot of 1-2 counts, 0-1 counts. That’s what you love to see. Guys love to play behind those types of guys, too.”


News Update – 3/11/10

This update is powered by a classic Buddy Hackett joke (sorry for the video quality):

As a lefthanded hitter he’s always had a lot more Tony Gwynn in him than Ken Griffey Jr. He’s not exactly a slap hitter, but Johnson has made a career of hitting the ball to all fields, always more comfortable going the other way than pulling the ball.

“My whole life’s been left field,” was the way he put it yesterday.

. . . (Batting coach Kevin) Long took one look at him on tape after the Yankees signed him as a free agent and saw an obvious flaw that was draining his power from his swing. Basically, he wasn’t using his legs to drive the ball.

“When I watched him it was striking that his back foot was sliding out and collapsing,” Long explained. “So that was the first thing we attacked, getting to use his lower half more efficiently and consistently.”

. . . The payoff came quickly, in Johnson’s fifth and sixth at-bats of the spring, and the home runs were enough to make the Yankees salivate over what his new approach might produce this season.


News Update – 3/8/10

This update is powered by . . . a trailer for every Academy Award-winning movie ever:

Q. You were a starter and reliever before you settled on closing games. What roles do you think Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes should have on the Yankees staff?

A. I think Phil Hughes is a starter for sure. He can go deep into games. He’s a power pitcher and he also knows how to pitch, with a nice curveball. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. Personally, I think Joba is a relief pitcher. He’s got that makeup, that aggressiveness. I think that he is more valuable in the bullpen. I think that he would be a great relief pitcher.

Q. Do you think Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball history?

A. I think that he is a tremendous relief pitcher. He’s the best current-day, modern reliever. But it’s just like you can’t compare the 500-home-run club today to the old 500-home-run club. When I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was told that I had 53 saves with seven-plus outs. I was told that Mariano had one and Trevor Hoffman had two. So I think that says it in a nutshell.

Back on Thursday.

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