ICHIRO IS A YANKEE!

It’s nothing new when I admit that the Yankees haven’t always pleased me with trades, whether they have occurred during the offseason or at the deadline. The deadline especially is an extremely nerve-wracking time of year where you NEVER know what’s going to happen. Since I’m weird in my choice of favorite players (Francisco Cervelli is my favorite despite being in Triple-A), I know that none of my guys are ever safe from being shipped away. And I hate when they’re shipped away for no one.

The Yankees – although having just been swept by the A’s out west – are in undeniably solid shape this season. Everyone knows about their fair share of injuries, but the guys who have come back have come back strong, like CC Sabathia. And the guys who are going to remain out, like Brett Gardner, have surprisingly successful guys filling their shoes, like Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.

Guys like Ibanez and Jones, along with Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, and Chris Stewart, in my opinion have proven to be the best bench the Yankees have had in awhile. It hasn’t been this good since the 90s days that I barely remember – but I do remember that the 90s were filled with championships for the Yankees, and a good bench is important if you want to win.

I was playing guitar before, and in honor of my idol Slash’s birthday, was attempting to improvise the outro solo to the song Nightrain. Through the killer riff, I heard the faint voice of my little brother, yelling, “MOM! MOM! HEY MOM! THE YANKEES….”

The rest of what he said wasn’t clear, but I heard my Mom’s reaction, “OH MY GOD! WOW!”

Turns out, my family was ecstatic over the latest Yankees news: ICHIRO HAS BEEN TRADED TO THE BRONX! It was just for two pitching prospects, D.J. Mitchell who I saw a few times this year (wasn’t overly impressed) and Danny Fahrquar (who I’ve never heard of).

It seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve said this, but I’m ecstatic over this trade, too.

Ichiro amazed the world when he came to America from Japan – and actually performed above and beyond our expectations. I truly believe he’s the best Japanese player who has come here, and without a doubt he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Naturally, guys don’t play like they’re in their prime forever, and at age 38, Ichiro has slowed down a bit. He’s hitting just .261 this season. But still – the Yankees acquired a future Hall of Fame veteran for barely anything. He’s the kind of guy that I never saw coming – and perhaps the kind of guy who can really help this team.

Something interesting about Ichiro, which may have influenced the Yankees’s pursuit of him, is his success against AL East teams. For his career, Ichiro hits .300 against the Rays, .304 against the Red Sox, .333 against the Blue Jays, and .356 against the second-place Orioles. If nothing else, I think Ichiro will help the Yankees beat these teams and continue to gain the ground they need in the AL East. This may be just what the Yankees need.

Even if his overall offensive numbers are not where we’re used to them being, there’s no denying that Ichiro is an incredible outfielder. Where’s he going to play? I’m not sure. The whole Yankees team this season seems like a giant platoon system, with this guy DH-ing every other day, that guy hitting against lefties, and those guys resting because they’re old. Ichiro will probably just slide right into this platoon system. Combine him with starters Granderson and Swisher, and Ibanez and Jones from the bench, and the Yankees have a killer outfield system.

Tonight against the Mariners (how ironic!) Ichiro will hit 9th and play left field for my Yankees. It will be interesting to hear how the Seattle crowd responds.

And I know it’s going to be fun to see him on my Yankees. He’s not what he used to be, but he’s still Ichiro, and is still a legend. Legends – that’s what the New York Yankees are made of, am I right?

Still have another week until the deadline….I wonder what other surprises the Yankees will come up with next.

GO YANKEES!

Success to Stay?

The New York Yankees are generating some historically significant stats of late, and I never saw it coming. Even Joe Girardi said he feels the team clicked rather quickly. The Yankees just won their 9th straight today, finishing off their third series sweep in a row. I’d say right now, these 2012 Yankees have some good company: the last time they had three consecutive series sweeps was in the magical championship season of 1998.

It was stunning to hear that. Never did I expect the 2012 Yankees to be compared to the 1998 Yankees in any way. Maybe they do have that spark.

You don’t win 9 games in a row against three solid teams for no reason – it means you’re good. The Yankees have the best record in baseball since May 22nd. They’ve been playing solid baseball for about as long as they were playing poor baseball – time for me to seriously believe in these guys. So they started slow? No biggie. Maybe everything went bad then, so it could only improve as the season progressed.

Losing Mariano Rivera seemed like the most devastating, depressing catastrophe that could happen to the Yankees. Of course I miss his smiling face, but I have to give credit where credit is due: Rafael Soriano. Just wow. I remember hating on him for awhile too. He and I have had a rocky relationship throughout his short Yankee career. I remember feelings of elation when they signed him, because I knew he was one of the top closers in baseball with the Rays, second probably only to my Mo. Then I saw how much money he was making just to be a setup man. I subsequently discovered the contractual opt-outs, which I felt was a lose/lose situation for the Yankees, because either he would be great and then just opt out for more money, or he would be awful and we’d be stuck with him. Well, he was awful to start the 2011 season, posting a frightening 7.84 ERA over his first month in pinstripes.

He finished up strong though, and after Mo went down this year, he really stepped up. You can tell he has that fearless closer mentality, but without all the antics like some other closers around the game. He’s emotionless on the hill – sometimes it looks like he doesn’t even care – and he maintains his cool with that same blank expression even when the situations get sticky. Sure, he may not always get the opposition down 1-2-3 like Mariano, but the bottom line is that he is getting the job done at a time where the Yankees need him most.

So despite my feelings for the guy in the past, I definitely appreciate Rafael Soriano now, and I know the Yankees are blessed to have him. Since he’s closing now, maybe he is worth all that money. Hopefully he decides to stay in the Bronx.

In my last post, I apologized for hating on Mark Teixeira. He proved to me again in the middle game against the Nationals that I should believe in him. In a game that I thought would go on forever, it was Teixeira who was the hero, coming through in the clutch for what would ultimately be the game winner for the Yanks: a go-ahead 2-run double in the 14th inning. Soriano then closed it down.

But isn’t it ironic: I mentioned in my last post how I complained about Teixeira and whined about wanting rookies (in that post, it was the Angels phenom Mike Trout who I fawned over), but in the second game against the Nationals, their rookie phenom Bryce Harper had an awful day at the plate, going 0-7 and looking horrible. And it was the Yankees veteran with a giant contract, Mark Teixeira, who won the game. I feel bad for doubting him. Rookies may be cute and exciting, but winning is pretty fun, too. Thanks Teix!

Another note about that game two against the Nats: Rafael Soriano closed out the game in the 14th inning, which means that there were a whole lot of innings before that where he didn’t pitch. The Yankee bullpen, which is composed of a bunch of guys no one’s ever heard of, has been absolutely shut-down dominant. They’ve all stepped up and have done way more than I ever could have hoped.  To go out there and hold the Nats down to just 1 run from the 8th onwards is incredible. Not to mention, it was at their ballpark, where the pressure is even greater due to the fear of a walkoff loss. Guys like Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Clay Rapada, and even the recently-bullpen demoted Freddy Garcia, deserve huge pats on the backs.

It’s crazy. Early on, from the outside looking in, these 2012 Yankees looked like a mess. Ravished by injuries and showing their age, they found themselves in the cellar of the AL East standings. But I guess it really was just “early.” Because right now, on June 18th, the Yankees are 40-25 – 15 games over .500 – and are sitting proudly atop the standings in the AL East. And they show no signs of stopping now.

I hoped that things would only get better for the Yankees after the disappointing start. Maybe that tide began to turn in the right direction for the Yankees a long time ago, but maybe only now do I actually believe that the success I’m seeing is here to stay.

GO YANKEES!

Subway Series Spark!

In all honesty, I really have to give my Yankees some credit. After an exceptionally long, lackluster offseason and kickoff to the season that consisted of losing our closer, losing our new starting pitcher, and well – losing in general, I was just about ready to accept the “fact” that my boys just weren’t going anywhere in 2012. Ready I was to rant about using rookies, vent against the long-contracted veterans, and strangle Joe Girardi.

I find myself exceptionally busy for being on summer vacation, so I haven’t been able to actually watch games as religiously as I have in previous seasons. In the games I saw, the team looked lifeless, dead, beaten before they even stepped on to the field. But that was then.

I don’t know when things changed, how they changed – or even if anything really changed at all. What’s different now? It’s the same old guys, but now these old guys that I thought were getting too old and too stinky seem to have new life. I look at the Yankee record, 34-25, just ½ out of first place, and I wonder: WHEN THE HECK DID THIS HAPPEN?

Surely, I feel like an idiot.

Okay, maybe I wrote my boys off a little too early. But it’s only June 10, and I don’t want to get too cocky, either. Then again, I actually watched this Subway Series in its entirety, and the Yankees looked fantastic in all aspects. The power bats surged, the starters dominated in lengthy fashion, and perhaps most importantly, the team had that all-important fire that has been missing.

The whole team has exceeded my expectations recently, but three guys especially I think deserve some special recognition and apologies.

Ever since the second half of 2010, I have been relentlessly ripping on Phil Hughes. I was mad at him for being fat and worthless in 2011. I thought he was done, and I was mad because I have his rookie card and would like it to be worth something someday. Constantly, I ridicule my Yankees for getting rid of their prospects, but I felt that Phil Hughes was one guy that they held on to for far too long.

Finally, I think I’m seeing the real Phil Hughes.

A 6-5 record with a 4.76 ERA may not seem too wonderful on the surface, but let’s remember, Hughes, like the vast majority of the Yankees team, didn’t exactly burst out of the gates when the season started. He sort of scuffled along, to put it nicely, racking up a frightening 7.88 ERA in his first month. Just when I thought all faith was lost, he started to improve. Take away that one bad start against the Angels, and Hughes has been fantastic from May onwards. He has lowered his ERA in 8 of his last 9 starts, proving that he definitely has something left to offer. He bounced back from his worst start of the year in LA – 7 runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings – with arguably the best start of his career in his next time out against the Tigers – a complete game, where he surrendered just 1 run on 4 hits.

So Phil, I’m definitely sorry for hating on you. I forgot you were only 25. You’ve really stepped up this season. While I previously thought our starting rotation was God awful this year, you’ve shined a light. Keep it up!

When the Yankees were in Anaheim a few weeks ago, I wanted to kill Brian Cashman. It was the first time I saw the adorable, amazing rookie Mike Trout in action. God was he cute…and he seriously impressed everyone in my home. I wanted him, and I made it clear that I wanted him, prancing around my house saying, “Let’s trade for Mike Trout! Take him, and pay the Angels to take Teixeira!” Little did I know, he could have been a Yankee. Supposedly, he was set to be the Yankee’s first draft pick in 2009, but they lost that draft pick to the Angels due to the signing of their free agent. That free agent was Mark Teixeira.

I was livid when I learned that. During the Angel’s series, I was probably at my height of my “I’m sick of Mark Teixeira sucking with a huge contract” phase. He just made me so mad, promising to bunt but never doing it, popping up or grounding right into the shift, and making that annoying face when trying to hit. He was the perfect example of what was annoying me about the Yankees: veterans with giant contracts that sucked but were still getting paid, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Mark is a historically slow starter. At June 10th, maybe he’s just now getting his groove on. He’s actually hitting almost .250, which doesn’t seem like much, but he had been hovering around .220-.230 for so long that it was sickening.  Teix has definitely shown glimpses of improvement at the plate, and still is arguably the best glove over at first.  I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs going forward.

The last guy I feel the need to apologize to is someone I’ve never come out and openly criticized. I have underestimated him, and perhaps neglected him. I don’t think I’ve shown Russell Martin nearly enough love, and today especially, he reminded me why I love him.

I admit it, I’m not over the whole Jesus Montero thing, and I probably never will be. And all my blabbering about that little catching cutie probably made it seem like I had absolutely no faith whatsoever in Russell Martin.  I never said it, but he worried me, spending practically the whole season under the Mendoza line.  I mean seriously – Chris Stewart was hitting better. I know a catcher’s primary focus should be on assisting the pitchers, but when the Yankees were stinky, the pitching was too, along with Martin. So I didn’t feel like he was doing very well overall.

When the calendar flipped to June, something sparked in Martin. All of a sudden he’s insanely good. Martin is hitting at a hot clip of .333 so far this month. And today, he was literally my hero, hitting 2 home runs (one to right field and one to left), WALKING OFF, and winning the Subway Series finale for my boys in style. Coincidence that Martin and the starting pitching have been hot simultaneously? I don’t know.

All I know is that I don’t know what has changed with my Yankees, but I’m liking the results very much. Winning is fun. But more importantly, thinking you can win is even more rewarding. This series against the Mets opened my eyes, as everything seemed to work out for my boys. The Subway Series brought the best out of my Yankees, sparking my team and myself once again.

I just hope we can carry this forward.

Go Yankees!

The Mariano Misfortune

In so many ways, baseball is more than just some game. Sure, even when it’s only May, records, standings, and stats matter. Even this early, insults are fired between fans of rival teams. And even this early when the Yankees look hopeless, I start to freak out. Sometimes I think I need to get my priorities in order…I mean what has gotten into me? I’ve been studying for finals over watching baseball? Something’s wrong there. This isn’t just some game – this is my life. Nothing should come between me and my Yanks. The few games I have been able to watch in their entirety, though, haven’t been too fun. Watching them lose is one thing, but watching them look lifeless at the plate and fail to hit with runners in scoring position is another. And watching the so-called solid starting rotation crumble before my eyes isn’t too enjoyable either. At least the bullpen is a strong point.

About that…

After my last day of classes of my first year in college on Thursday, I thought I would celebrate by watching a Yankee game and taking one night off from doing work. As soon as I put on the YES Network, I saw video clips of the Great Mariano Rivera crashing to the ground of the warning track in Kaufmann Stadium, desperately grasping his knee in pain.

All I could say was, “Great. Do I really curse them when I watch? WHY DO I BOTHER?” Initially, a “twisted knee” didn’t sound too bad. But witnessing a wincing Mariano being transported off the field was worrisome.

The night just got worse and worse.

Not only did I remember that I had a biology paper due online by 11:55pm that I had to do all in that night – the bad part was the Yankees made me want to do it. Instead of procrastinating by watching the Yankees win, I actually did my work. They weren’t playing well, and I missed their late inning comeback attempt because I was working. But it wasn’t enough to win.

A normal loss in May doesn’t make me cry. But after finding out the fate of the Great Mariano, it was tough to fight the tears. A torn knee ligament is not a twisted knee. Missing a year isn’t missing a few months. And going out on a medical transport vehicle is not going out on the mound at Yankee Stadium. It just isn’t right. It shouldn’t have ended this way. Oh, this game can be so cruel. It’s just like life – it’s not fair.

I couldn’t watch the postgame. I didn’t want to hear or see Mariano in a state like that. I tried to distract myself by working on my communications final project after doing the bio paper. I thought I would feel good about getting stuff done, but no. All I could think about was Mo. Mariano Rivera is probably the most important component of the Yankees I’ve grown up with. He’s the reason the Yankees have won 5 World Series in my lifetime. Rivera is a class act. I admire how honest, down-to-earth, and genuinely kind a man of his stature is. He is the epitome of what it means to be a Yankee: classy, successful, and above and beyond the rest. Rivera is the greatest of all his kind before, and will always be the greatest no matter how many players come and go, no matter how much time passes. He’s a legend in my life, and will continue to be so for generations to come. As long as this game is played, Mariano Rivera’s legacy will be admired.

Age doesn’t matter when you’re Mariano Rivera. At 42, he hasn’t declined a bit. His skills will not diminish – but his desire might. He’s at the age where many players decide to call it quits and devote themselves full time to their families. There was speculation that this would be his last season. But the injury made that seem definite. And that’s the saddest part. Mariano has been on top of the world for his whole career – he shouldn’t go out because something else made him. That’s a decision Mo should have been able to make when he wanted to.

That’s why I spent some time venting on facebook that night/early the next morning. Yankees fans – and baseball fans in general – were expressing their sympathies. Even Red Sox fans, who hours before may have been going at it with an enemy Yankees fan, admitted they felt sorry about it.

I was beginning to think 2012 was a lost cause for my Yankees. And I don’t care if they don’t win – I know you can’t win them all. It was just that I felt that the team was lacking something, like that fire or passion that makes the team worth watching. They already lost the excitement of watching a sensational rookie learn and grow on their team, and they lost something that was supposed to be great that they received in exchange for that rookie. The offense didn’t seem strong, and neither did the rotation (making the pain of that trade sting more and more). But the bullpen was supposed to be the one thing the Yankee surely had going for them. Losing Mo, especially in such a heartbreaking way, could only destroy the morale and ability of my team – and myself as a fan – even more.

But then again, it is early. Standings and stats really shouldn’t matter in May. This silly game has a long way to go. No need to worry myself off the Dean’s List yet, right? Have a little faith, girl.

Things seemed to turn around the next day.

“BIG LETTERS,” Mo says.

Oh yeah. It’s official.

“I’m not going down like this. God willing and given the strength, I’m coming back,” declared the Great Mariano.

At this point, a lot of things can get better for this team. I think the tides will start turning now.

This game is crazy. Thank God Mariano Rivera is in better spirits. I’ll continue to send my prayers his way.

God Bless you Mariano Rivera. I seriously can’t imagine what I’d do without you.

Hopefully I don’t have to think about that for many more years.

Pineda Pessimist

I don’t want to be that obnoxious person that’s all, “I told you so.”

But I really did tell you so.

I really don’t want to be that fan who feels overly-bitter towards a player so soon, but I really can’t help it. It’s not like I wanted this to happen – I just had a feeling that it would. Am I glad I’m right? Am I right, or am I jumping the gun here? I’m not glad, because I want what is best for my team. And I hope I’m just overreacting.

It’s all just so confusing.

Okay, I admit it: I never really fully accepted the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade (what a surprise!).  I still think my tears and fears were justifiable. Surely, I understand that you have to give if you want to get in trades. But from the beginning, I felt this trade wasn’t equal. Jesus Montero – in very limited Big League action – went above and beyond my expectations. It’s not so much that he hit .328 with 4 HR in 18 games with my Yanks last year. It was the way he hit: raw power to all fields. The ball just jumped off his bat in a way I’ve never seen from any other 21 year old rookies. I can’t get his opposite field line drive home run out of my head.  And obviously, being the most highly-touted prospect in New York meant that the pressure was on. But that wasn’t any kind of excuse for him. Montero still performed. It would have been a lot of fun to see him grow as a ballplayer on the Yankees.

Michael Pineda’s stats from 2011 appear to have been impressive: a 3.74 ERA, a 9-10 record on a stinky team, and a guy in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. Looks pretty good. But after digging deeper into the stats and discovering that his ERA post-All Star break was an A.J. Burnett-reminiscent 5.12, and his ERA away from the pitcher-Heaven SAFECO Field was a mediocre-at-best 4.40, his “good” doesn’t look as “pretty.” What annoyed me about this trade wasn’t that the Yankees traded away Jesus Montero – it’s that they traded away Jesus Montero for a guy who was good for about half a season in SAFECO Field. Obviously, Pineda has great potential. But so does Montero. For the Yankees, I believe Montero had higher potential than Pineda does, simply because he fit the Stadium so well. And power to all fields that he possesses is something beneficial no matter what ballpark you play in. Again, I realize that both players are young and need time to develop, but if they are willing to wait for Pineda to develop, I don’t see why the Yanks weren’t willing to watch Montero grow. They needed pitching (which it’s hard to have enough of), but they do appear to have an abundance of starters as it is right now. And they have the luxury of being able to sign guys via free agency, like they did with Hiroki Kuroda, who are proven pitchers. This trade bothered me because I didn’t think the Yankees got the talent back for Jesus Montero. Pineda too has a lot of potential, but I think that for the Yankees, he won’t be as beneficial as Montero would have been.

But here’s what scares me: now, I don’t think Michael Pineda appears anywhere near as good as Jesus Montero. I thought this trade wasn’t equally balanced before. Now I’m really worried, and I know it is early, but this definitely looks like a problem.

Last night was actually the first time I was able to see Michael Pineda pitch from the beginning of a game (pitiful, I know, but I’ve been so busy between work and school that I’ve barely had time to do anything fun). I haven’t really been following Spring Training too closely, and that really bothers me because I love Spring Training (rookies galore!). I’ve only been able to get the gist of it, and all I knew about Pineda was that he wasn’t doing well. I saw it last night, and it wasn’t pretty.

My brother had told me that Michael Pineda came into camp in not-too-great shape. He was a little fat, and supposedly, Pineda has the potential to get big like CC if he doesn’t control himself. I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for coming into camp out of shape. You’re on the New York Yankees for goodness sake. Show a little respect, or some work ethic. How a young man whose job it is to play baseball can let himself go like that is something I don’t understand. I was so annoyed at Phil Hughes for being a fatty last season, but apparently he learned his lesson. Look at Hughes now – he looks like a different pitcher, just as I was ready to write him off as lazy and stinky for good. I’m proud of him. But Pineda…really? Everyone’s eyes are on you, you’ve got a lot to prove here in New York, and you have the nerve to start out your Yankees career by not being anywhere near physically prepared to pitch? That alone makes me think he’s not Yankees material. First impressions mean a lot. That’s just unacceptable.

CC Sabathia is chubby, but he can still pitch. If Pineda happens to have a larger body type that doesn’t interfere with his performance, then that’s fine. But that’s the problem: he’s not pitching well. At all. Last night, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Pineda was a guy who was struggling, but what I saw was a guy who could not locate (Martin’s target was never hit), who had no velocity (most fastballs between 88-91mph), and who had horrible body language on the mound. He allowed 6 runs in 2.2 innings, he threw 70-something pitches, and his ball to strike ratio was awful.

Oh, and now his shoulder hurts.

Really? REALLY? Try being physically ready to start playing baseball. What did you think was going to happen? And his attitude on the mound last night showed me that he’s not mentally ready for this either. Even David Cone made a note of that during the broadcast. Michael Pineda might not even make the starting rotation – that’s how bad he has been. Imagine that: the Yankees traded away their best prospect for a guy that might not even make the team. So much for wanting to win immediately, Yankees – like a Triple-A pitcher is really going to help you out. This is the New York Yankees. If you’re not going to perform, you’re not going to play – end of story. Nothing is guaranteed just because you’re supposed to be a good pitcher – you’ve got to show it. Sure, it’s a competitive, high-pressure atmosphere in Spring Training, especially because the Yankees have the pitching depth. But that is absolutely no excuse to suck. It’s competitive for all the guys who are trying to prove their worth, and some guys have stepped up. I mean what did you expect? You’re going to pitch for the Yankees; it’s not exactly an easy ride. If you can’t handle Spring Training, how do you expect to handle Yankees/Red Sox games, or postseason games where everything is amplified and means so much more?

I can’t believe this. I didn’t think he would be this bad. I finally was able to see Pineda pitch last night, and I thought I would see a little something to get me excited, to get him on my good side. Nope. The complete opposite happened.

Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. It is only March, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not….only March and already having physical, performance, and maturity issues with this kid who was supposed to be so great. My brother jokingly said that the Yankees should try and swap Pineda now while he still has some value. I wonder how long that will be a joke for. I just knew this was going to happen. I really didn’t want it to. I want to win this year. But I didn’t think this move was right, and so far, it’s showing.

Michael Pineda, I know it’s early, but it’s wearing thin already. You’ve got a lot of work to do. I don’t want to hate you, but if you’re going to make me hate you, then I have no choice but to hate you. I know you didn’t mean for this to happen, but it’s up to you to fix it.

Show me you can do it.

 

*Update: MRI showed that Pineda has shoulder tendinitis. He’ll begin the year on the DL. WOW. :(

ANDY PETTITTE IS COMING BACK!

How long has it been since my last post? Really, it’s been THAT LONG? The combination of trying to remain on the Dean’s List, and the fact that I just couldn’t fully get over trading Montero left me with a lack of time and a lack of desire to post. My spring break is winding down now, and I told myself that I wouldn’t put off my biology and political science papers any longer, but this is way too important.

For the first time since the Yankees traded away my baby Jesus, I’m excited again.

And it’s all thanks to a familiar face: Andy Pettitte.

Surely everyone is aware of the news by now: Andy Pettitte is out of retirement, and he’s coming back to the New York Yankees. I don’t care what anyone else thinks – I love this.

I first heard the news when I logged into facebook yesterday afternoon. My brother was beside me on the couch, and I gasped, “Whaa? Huh? Oh my God…dahh oh my GOD…”

He didn’t respond. He probably thought I was looking up pictures of Guns N’ Roses (I usually have a somewhat similar reaction…don’t judge). He made me say it.

“THE YANKEES SIGNED ANDY PETTITTE!”

Doubtful, he responded, “What? Virginia let me see that. You’re probably reading some fake thing.”

We proceeded to go to RiverAveBlues, but of course, Optimum Online failed me. After making the trek to the downstairs computer – and achieving the small victory of having internet access  – RiverAveBlues confirmed that it was indeed true: Andy Pettitte was coming back.

Everyone in my house was elated over this news. Andy Pettitte has been a favorite of ours for as long as he’s been in pinstripes – and that’s a pretty long time. We all knew he could still pitch, and his retirement left us all with an empty feeling inside. He was my favorite Yankee pitcher, and one of the guys who was there since I started watching baseball.  I vividly remember going to a baseball card shop as a young girl and buying just two cards – both really pretty shiny cards of Andy Pettitte. Saying goodbye was extremely difficult, especially because I knew he wasn’t a finished ballplayer. At age 39, many wonder what he can still do, but I know he can still do plenty to benefit my team.

I know a few people who are annoyed by Andy’s coming out of retirement, and I don’t understand that at all. Anyone who knows Andy Pettitte knows that he is a great man: a good Christian, Texan, family man, and teammate. He may not be perfect, but I avidly admire him. Andy, as far as I see it, has never been one of those guys who seeks attention. So when people criticize him for wanting to come back, I’m confused.

Andy Pettitte is not Roger Clemens. The Yankees didn’t “come and get him out of Texas.” Andy asked to come back, because he has the heart and genuine passion for this game. They didn’t pay him $28 million and make a big fuss over his return during a game. A mere $2.5 million is fine for him, although we all know that’s a steal if he pitches the way he did in 2010. Andy Pettitte is not coming back for any other reason than because he has the desire to pitch for the Yankees. Why should he hold back and miss out on something he wants, and something I know he can still do well?  That’s another concern people have about Pettitte – that he won’t pitch well, or that he will disrupt the rotation. There is no doubt in my mind that Andy Pettitte will be successful. In 2010 he was an All-Star with an 11-3 record and a sparkling 3.28 ERA, which was his best since 2005. He did have an elbow issue, but he assured us that his retirement after 2010 was influenced by his heart, not his arm. At age 39, health concerns are not unreasonable. But injuries can happen to anyone in baseball. Pettitte works hard and is smart enough to keep himself in shape. And if he wants to come back this badly, he knows what he’s getting into – the vigorous workouts, exercise, practice – and he’s ready for it.

Pettitte wouldn’t start the season in the Bigs because he needs a full Spring Training of his own. I’m not worried about where he will fit into the rotation. The Yankee rotation may seem all well and good right about now, but a lot can change over the course of the season. Injuries and ineffectiveness must be considered, and that is why you can never have too much pitching. The safety net of knowing you have a crafty, veteran, future-Hall-of-Fame lefty who knows how to win in New York is quite comforting. Who knows when he’ll make his appearance in pinstripes? All I know is that when he does, he’ll be ready, I’ll be ready, and we’ll both be happy.

Another reason I just love this news is because Andy Pettitte is synonymous with championships. He is the best starter in the history of postseason baseball. When the pressure is on, Andy buckles down and gets the job done. If the Yankees make it to the postseason this year, Andy will definitely be a key player in the postseason rotation. I’ll never forget how he won each clinching game in the 2009 playoffs for my boys. I say it’s about time my Yanks get back there. Sure, the teams have been very good since then, but they were just lacking something to push them over the top and make them go all the way.

Andy Pettitte is just what the Yankees need.

And he’s just what I need, too.

It’s March, I’m on spring break, the weather has been giving me a tease of summer, and baseball is back – and oh, does it feel good to be excited for my Yankees again.

Thank you in advance, Andy.

Random Radio Show Recommendation and Blogging for Class!

I just began classes for second semester this week. One of them is one of the foundation classes for all Communications majors, called Digital Toolbox. I didn’t know what to expect – it sounds all technical, and “technical” I definitely am not. But my adviser teaches it, and she’s cool. The projects seem cool too, and it doesn’t seem all that scary or technical at all.

That’s a lovely shot of Lowell Thomas, the place all Comm majors love <3

Our first assignment is to make a site with WordPress. I’ve already got that covered! Hope I can use this site, if not I’ll just make another, but I’m still going to do whatever I learn in class on here as well. I’m going to be adding stuff on my blog here to go along with the assignment, like a portfolio page and other requirements. My professor suggested that we update throughout the semester and have some sort of “theme,” which sounds exactly what I’m doing already (though I hope to update MORE).

So since the big splash is out of the way for the Yankees, and since I felt obliged to post for class, I’ll do something different. As some of you may know, aside from this blog, I also am part of FanVsFan with my site at http://pinstripepartisan.com. The FanVsFan community is just as amazing as MLBlogs.

A lot of cool stuff goes on in the FanVsFan Network, especially at their radio network. Last night, it was suggested that I tune in to “Airin it Out with The Bone and Giz.” Now I didn’t know what to expect, and I was trying to refrain from letting the name of the show lead to any snap judgements.

Bone and Giz definitely earned two thumbs up from me. The show was extremely entertaining, and they covered a wide variety of topics. I didn’t even mind when they stopped talking about baseball. I’m not much of a football fan at all, but they even discussed the NFL Playoffs such that I was actually quite interested.

This week, Bone and Giz were joined with a special guest, the beat writer for the New York Post, Mike Vaccaro. Anyone who loves New York sports, or anyone who is an aspiring sports writer, has got to look up to Vaccaro. He has been with the Post since 2002, but in over 20 years of journalistic excellence, Vaccaro has covered a vast array of sporting events, including four Olympics, 12 World Series, 10 Super Bowls, eight Final Fours and five U.S. Opens.

I especially enjoyed when they discussed a “Day in the Life of Mike Vaccaro.” Life as a New York sports journalist is never boring. As he said, “There really aren’t two days that are exactly the same.” It’s always exciting and unpredictable.

Vaccaro shared his thoughts on why he loves his job so much, “One of the nice things about writing a column in New York is that if you wanted to, or were psychopathic enough, you can write one every day of the year because something is happening every day of the year.”

Other topics were introduced, and some interesting comments were made. Vaccaro said that Alex Rodriguez is the greatest player he has ever seen – and he has seen quite a few. Not sure if I agree with that, but I’m not going to argue with him!

I suggest that you tune in to this show, you won’t be disappointed. From Yu Darvish to Mark Wahlberg, to the NFL Playoffs to jean shorts, Bone and Giz have something for everyone. It is fast-paced and there isn’t a dull moment in the entire show. Not to mention, Bone and Giz are a hilarious team who work extremely well together, and Mike Vaccaro was an incredible guest.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fanvsfannetwork/2012/01/20/airin-it-out-with-the-bone-and-giz

“Airin’ it Out with The Bone and Giz” airs every Thursday evening from 8-9:30pm on the FanVsFan Radio Network.

Check out Mike Vaccaro’s work at the New York Post. You can also follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeVacc.

The Worst/Best Trade Of My Life

Ohhh, Cashman, you don’t make blockbuster deals on Friday the 13th. You just don’t.

And you definitely don’t make this deal.

I’m sure the entire baseball world knows the news by now. I was supposed to have this post up right away, but every time I started it, I had to stop. I figured I could just type through the tears, but then I thought an overly-emotional post would be irrational and unfair. So I waited until I regained some composure. Here I am now, still in shock, but over my initial state or mourning. I haven’t cried yet today, though that may be because I depleted everything I had last night.

This is without a doubt the hardest thing I have been forced to go through in my life as a Yankees fan.

I don’t even know where to start. There’s so much running through my head. I guess I’ll talk about what happened when I found out that the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda (along with Hector Noesi for Jose Campos, but it’s the Montero part that sent me over the edge).

I saw the news on facebook first on a baseball page that I liked. It wasn’t official then. But my heart stopped a little, and I gasped. I immediately headed over to MLBtraderumors, they had it up with the little times next to each sentence, as if they were monitoring every move. I knew that was a bad sign -that meant it was legit.

I began to panic.

The Yankees website had nothing, just as I feared. Throughout my life as a Yankees fan, being surprised by Brian Cashman and his stealthy moves became quite a regular thing. He never lets you know what’s up. I went on some other site about the Pineda/Montero swap, and it wouldn’t load – too much traffic.

I knew right there that it was happening. I admit it: I started to cry a little.

Aww, who am I kidding. My brother wrote it on facebook anyway, so everyone knows: I was bawling like a baby. The kind of tears that flow without you even knowing, then you rejoin reality and think, “What the heck, I’m crying?”

Yeah I’m a nut. But I can’t help it.

I’ve been hearing about Jesus Montero for God knows how long. The highlight of the 2011 season was the 18 games that Montero played in during September. The .328 avg, the 4 HR (some of which were opposite field line drives, which totally turned me on to the kid), the 12 RBI, the handsome young man with the high socks and the boyish smile, I was swept off my feet. He looked like everything I heard he would be.  And I thought it was just the beginning of what would be a 20-year superstar successful career in Yankee pinstripes. A home-grown, superstar Yankee to be part of a new core of young Yankees. I figured, since they held on to him for this long, he was safe. I penciled him into my 2012 lineup. I said goodbye to Posada, which was tough, but the thought of Jesus Montero eventually catching eased the pain of losing one of my favorite Yankees. In my public presentation class, I even did my persuasive speech on the claim “The Yankees should not trade Jesus Montero,” and I got an A. I never thought he would be traded, because frankly, the Yankees did nothing up to this point in the offseason.

Losing Jesus Montero – I can’t even believe this happened. I just can’t trust Brian Cashman anymore. I never know what’s going to happen. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever see this new generation of prospects play in the Bronx. Everyone knows what his potential is. Shouldn’t we want that kind of talent on our team, especially because he’s home-grown? This trade is an example of the things I don’t like about the Yankees. The immediate-gratification thing, where they don’t want to wait. Sure, Montero’s not a full-time catcher yet, but he can be eventually. Now I heard that the Yankees are thinking about expanding payroll a bit. Although Michael Pineda is at a bargain price, I’m worried now that Montero won’t be the DH, that they’ll go out and sign someone. Like Prince Fielder. Which is exactly what I don’t want: a big free-agent contract, probably ridiculously expensive and around 8-10 years, for a guy who will probably decline soon who we’ll be stuck with. Like A-Rod. Like Teixeira. Partially why I was so into Jesus Montero, was that he was different. Young blood, a new start. He can’t decline. He can only improve. So even if he didn’t start out like the superstar I believe he will one day be, if we wait, he’d learn and improve. I wanted to see that happen to him as a Yankee.

Never in my wildest nightmares did I ever suspect that this would happen. That’s partially why I don’t like this trade, because I’m a little embarrassed. I’ve been saying how he’s going to be on the team in 2012, despite the frequent debates with another Yankees fan. So not only was I upset that the one thing I wanted for the 2012 season was gone, but I was also dreading the remarks of this fellow Yankees fan. I mean it’s not like I’m stupid. No one expected this. I thought Cashman was serious about doing nothing. He let all the other pitchers go by, but little did I know that he’d go for someone that we didn’t even know was on the market. Losing Jesus Montero has left me bombarded with the worst feelings: anguish, dismay, disinterest for the coming season, distrust of the organization, and humiliation for being wrong about it all.

So from a purely emotional perspective, this is the worst trade of my life. And on Friday the 13th, I can’t help but to think it may be bad luck for the Yankees.

But this girl knows that there shouldn’t be any crying in baseball.

I feel bad about feeling bad about this trade. It’s unfair to Michael Pineda. It makes it seem like I hate him. I can’t hate the guy, he didn’t do anything. I mean sure, if asked if I would make the Montero/Pineda trade, I would have said NO (maybe that’s why I’m not in charge of the Yankees). But that doesn’t mean I don’t want Pineda. He’s almost 23 and he had a pretty fine rookie season. Okay, maybe he’s not as cute as Montero on the surface, but maybe he’s got a cuter personality – I heard rumblings of Jesus Montero having an attitude.

And who am I kidding? I know the Yankees needed pitching. I didn’t think they’d get any, but I shouldn’t be upset that they improved in the area that they needed to most. Michael Pineda, as well as Hiroki Kuroda, who I found out was going to be signed about five minutes after the big trade, can definitely strengthen the rotation. And Pineda will be under team control for years to come before he gets to make the big money, which will give him every reason to play heard and reach his fullest potential. I should like that, since I hate the long contracts that I feel create laziness and a sense of entitlement. Another good sign: according to my brother, the Red Sox fans are nervous about the moves the Yankees have made.

That’s always a good sign.

This deal, as with all deals, is a risk. And on Friday the 13th, you know…I can’t help but to think negatively.

Last night in the midst of my meltdown, I was seeking distractions from the news. I had 5 conversations going on facebook, I was blasting Guns N’ Roses in my headphones, hoping the song “Don’t Cry” would actually help my cause (“…there’s a Heaven above you, baby…”), I was contemplating hitting the liquor cabinet (kidding, underage over here!), and I was just trying to avoid reality. Then Grandma comes in my room (brave of her when I’m unstable), and asks if I’m busy, and if not, if I could check to see what the numbers were to see if she won.

She didn’t win, but the number made me a little happy anyway. It was 777.

A sign of things to come? Maybe this is a lucky trade for the Yankees. Maybe the good can counteract the bad here. Maybe I can like, get over this? Maybe there was something about Jesus Montero that I just didn’t know, and maybe this was for the better. Maybe I should trust Brian Cashman, after all, he’s done pretty well for me in my lifetime.

And maybe I should get excited for this upcoming season again. Maybe Pineda will help my boys reach their next goal: #28. And maybe Michael Pineda can be one of “my boys” the way I thought Jesus Montero would be.

Maybe this’ll actually be the best thing that’s ever happened in my lifetime for the Yankees.

We’ll see.

Offseason Is On: Infield Acquisitions?

Nothing much is happening in the world of the Yankees, as I’ve become accustomed to all winter long, but I feel like writing something. Actually, “nothing” is “something” for the Yankees this offseason.

Lately, it seems that even the non-exciting moves aren’t happening. When I thought of Japanese players that the Yankees would win the rights to negotiate with, I had my fingers crossed for Yu Darvish to be that guy. No. Although starting pitching was, as Cashman has tirelessly noted, the team’s number-one priority this offseason, they didn’t go wholeheartedly for Darvish, or for any other top starters, for that matter.

But what the Yankees did do, was they won the bidding for exclusive negotiating rights for Japanese shortstop, Hiroyuki Nakajima. Since the Yankees are playing the fiscal responsibility card this offseason, that’s probably why Nakajima appealed to them. They won his bidding with just $2 million.

Now I wasn’t excited about this at all, I mean aren’t there enough suitable utility infielders that already have Major League experience that they could have gone after? Why go after Nakajima?

Oh well. On Thursday, it became official that the Yankees had not reached a deal with Nakajima, so he’s going back to Japan, and the Yankees get to keep their $2 million.

I wonder, though: will they spend it?

$2 million isn’t enough to get a #2 starter, that’s for sure. But they do need a backup corner infielder, so why not bring back Eric Chavez? I know they signed Jayson Nix to a minor league deal in November, but Chavez is a better value in my eyes.

I was extremely pleased with Eric Chavez last year. Although me missed a huge chunk of the season with that foot injury, he produced in the 58 games he did participate in. He hit a respectable .263 avg with 2 HR and 26 RBI. More importantly, Chavez played perfect defense, ceasing to make any errors at third base or first base. One thing I like about Chavez is that he knows his limits. Even though he’s just 33, he understands that his role now will most likely be a part-time player, because he’s very fragile and has been worn down by various injuries over his 14 year career. He’s fine with being a bench player.

I definitely think the Yankees should bring him back. He’s a quality veteran ballplayer who when healthy can be productive at the plate, and his smooth defense is a guarantee. And he only cost $1.5 million last season. The upside is huge for Chavez, I mean why didn’t they bring him back yet? Not for anything, he also happens to be one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen on the baseball field. He looks fabulous in the Yankee pinstripes.

My tone towards the Yankees organization this offseason has been one of disinterest, simply because I’m getting bored with predicting what they’re going to do – or what they’re not going to do, rather. It’s getting annoying. So they probably won’t bring back Eric Chavez, simply because it makes a ton of sense to do so…

The winter is wearing thin now! I want to see some baseball!

Thank You, Jorge

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this is a bittersweet time for Yankee fans. It’s especially tough for my generation of fans, I think, because one of the constants of our life as Yankees fans will no longer remain. Obviously, it was inevitable – but when stuff like this becomes official, I can’t help but to be emotional.

I’ve been watching Yankees games for as long as I can remember, and throughout my life as a fan, Jorge Posada has been there. My first group of favorite players was Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte. Two of the three are gone. Now that Posada has officially planned to announce his retirement, he’ll move on as well, leaving me with that sense of bittersweet nostalgia.

Jorge, I’d like to thank you for your 17 year-service to these New York Yankees. You’ve been making an impact for my entire life, and it’s going to be weird knowing that you’d no longer be there.

There are so many things I’m going to miss about Jorge Posada. His production for the Yankees is the most obvious reason to miss him. In fact, I think he has himself a fair case for the Hall of Fame. When we think of potential Hall of Fame catchers from this era, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez come to mind. But I feel that Jorge Posada should be right in the mix of this discussion.

Especially for the catching position, defense is important. Posada perhaps has not been known as a star defensive catcher, but in certain areas, he has been significantly better than Piazza and Rodriguez. Of the three, Rodriguez has committed the most errors behind the plate with 137, but he does have the longest career of the three. Mike Piazza committed 124 errors in his 15 years as a catcher, 5 less years than Pudge. But Jorge Posada blows them away, having committed just 88 errors in his catching career. Posada also has the best fielding percentage at .992. And Yankees fans will always remember May 17, 1998, the day of David Wells’ perfect game, which was caught by none other than Jorge himself. Posada also has been a weapon with the bat, having hit the most home runs since 2000 by catchers with 240. He has exceeded the 1,000 RBI plateau, with 1065 for his career, to go along with a more-than-respectable .273 average, all while playing in baseball’s hardest division for the team in the city that expects you to perform like no other.

Jorge’s presence will surely be missed. A switch-hitting power hitter that can fit right into the middle of the lineup? Definitely the kind of guy all managers would enjoy penciling into the lineup on any given day. But it’s not just his offensive presence – it’s his attitude, his passion for the game and for his teammates, his ability to be a leader in the clubhouse – that’s what the Yankees and I will miss the most about Jorge Posada.

Posada always had a certain toughness about him, and I love that in a man. If you mess with a Yankee, you’re going to mess with Jorge. I’ll never forget the animosity between Jorge Posada and Pedro Martinez. Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, the Pedro-pushes-Don-Zimmer incident, and the subsequent fury of Posada – just one example of Jorge’s passion.

Another favorite Posada moment of mine coincides with one of my favorite Yankees moments: the 2009 World Series, game 6, Pedro giving up runs, and Posada loving every minute of it. This picture says it all:

Good times…

2011 was rough for Posada both on and off he field. I think much of his struggles this past season were due to him being preoccupied worrying about his son, who had to have another surgery in June. Jorge and his wife Laura have a charity dedicated to helping families who have children with craniosynostosis, yet another reason to love this guy.

As difficult as 2011 was for Jorge, it ended on a high note. I got a kick out of seeing him catch in September. Emergency circumstances arose, and Jorge was ready to respond to his manager’s call:

“I got a chance to get back behind the plate,” Posada said. “I have my equipment with me. I’m an emergency catcher, like I was today. Joe said, ‘What do you think?’ So I said, ‘Well, if you need me, I’m there.’ He said, ‘Go ahead. It’s like riding a bike.’ I was excited. It was fun. I’ll be sore tomorrow, but I’ll sleep well tonight (ESPN.)”

The best thing about that was seeing Jorge catch Howie Kendrick trying to steal. He also picked up a hit that day.

And although the 2011 didn’t end the way Yankees fans had hoped, Jorge Posada was strong in the final stretch. On September 21, he delivered, coming through in the clutch with a  pinch hit, go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the 8th inning, giving the Yankees the lead in the game that clinched the AL East Division title. In the postseason, though unfortunately cut short, Posada was the most lethal hitter on the Yankees. He hit a sizzling .429 in the ALDS, proving that when the stakes are high, he rises to the occasion, and even exceeds expectations.

It was a fitting way to end his career. I hate to see him go, but at least he’s going as a Yankee.

Jorge, Yankees fans will never forget you. Consider this the ending of one of the many chapters of your Yankee life. I’m confident that I’ll see you again involved with the Yankees in the future – you’d be a killer manager.

Thank you for everything, Jorge. Hitting the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium, being a 5-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger recipient, and being a 4-time World Series Champion.

But most importantly, thank you for being the Yankee and the man you were. You’re one of the main reasons to why I grew up as a Yankees fan. I love you.

Best of luck in your future, Jorge.

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