June 2011

Old Timers’ Day!

Yanks Win Series, All-Around Fun Afternoon

Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium is one of the days I mark on my little Yankees schedule. I just love seeing all the “old” guys come out, I love commenting on how high they wear their pants, and I love how the exciting atmosphere at the Stadium is transferred through the TV into my own home. I love Old Timers’ Day every year, but this year, it was even better than usual.

Old Timers’ Day is always fun for Yankees fans of all ages, but I think this time it was especially exciting for those of my generation: those who grew up during the dynasty of the late 90s. The return of Joe Torre, Lou Piniella (who I loved to watch as a manager when he has his…”episodes”) Bernie Williams, and Tino’s home run brought back many fond memories for me. Tino Martinez was my first ever favorite. He was the first player I remember seeing, and for that reason, he became my “favorite.” I remember crying when he went to the Cardinals, then my Dad bought me a Cardinals cap, which I would wear all the time along with my Tino Yankees tee. I remember being him for Halloween when I was in 2nd grade, I remember going to Tino Martinez Bobblehead day on my birthday in 2001 – I could go on and on. Seeing Tino play with Bernie, smile with Posada, and hit that homer…that alone made my day.

What made the day even more special was the ceremony honoring Gene Monahan. 49 years with this great organization…that is insane. And he has done a fantastic job throughout his time. He seems like a really sweet man, and I hope the Yankees can win it for him this year. Oh, and he was nervous about throwing out the ceremonial first pitch? Pshh…He threw a perfect strike! Maybe he can teach Barack Obama how to throw like a man…

Another thing about that first pitch: I liked how Jorge Posada had the honor of catching it. He looked so at home and at ease in his catcher’s gear, and throughout the entire day, he had a genuine ear-to-ear smile on his face. It was the happiest I saw Jorge all year, and that too reminded me of the past.

The Old Timers’ GAME is always fun. In the top of the first, Oscar Gamble led off with a single off Ron Guidry, followed by a LONG single by Jesse Barfield. Goose Gossage relieved Guidry, and got Lee Mazzilli to fly out to Bernie Williams (which set off the crowd). In the bottom of the first, David Wells served up a double to Bernie, and was then relieved by David Cone, whom Tino hit the 2-run bomb off. Tino would have loved hitting at this new ballpark. In the top of the 2nd, Doc Gooden and Jeff Nelson retired the side. Nelson then remained in the game, and pitched for the other team in the next half inning. I love how no rules are applied whatsoever to these games. They played another half inning, but there was no need to complete that inning because the BOMBERS were ahead of the CLIPPERS (lol). The Bombers beat the Clippers 2-0 on the strength of my Tino’s HR, while David Cone received the loss.

It was all fun and games during that game, but it would have been even more fun and games if Derek Jeter was there. I feel incredibly bad that he missed the day. And on his BIRTHDAY too…aww, Jeet. That calf better be healing up. Happy Belated Birthday, Derek! 37 years young.

As for the ACTUAL game that was played, it was intense. The Yankees didn’t get a man on base until the 5th inning, and by then they were down 3-0 and making me nervous that they wouldn’t win on a day that they really needed to. After Robbie Cano got the team’s first hit out of the way, Nick Swisher got them into the run column with his MONSTER 2-run homer. Then, my happy Jorge went deep back-to-back with Swish, tying up the game at 3.

Nova battled yesterday. After the Yankees worked so hard to tie up the game, he allowed a homer to Ty Wigginton (again) which gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead. But he stopped it there.

In the bottom of the 6th, Brett Gardner led off with a bunt single…perfect execution. He’s been playing like the player I always thought he was recently, and he’s finally starting to make me look good, instead of looking like I’m his little fangirl who thinks he can do no wrong. After that bunt, Gardner stole 2nd, which really set me off…I always thought speed was sexier than home runs (sorry Swish and Posada!). After a Granderson walk, A-Rod drove in the tying run with an RBI single.

In the 7th, Boone Logan actually did his job and retired the heavy hitting lefty, Carlos Gonzalez. In the bottom half of the inning, Eduardo Nunez drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single. The Yankees FINALLY had a lead, and it was padded by Mark Teixeira’s homer in the 8th. Robertson and Mo finished up the remainder of the game. The Yankees won it 6-4, and with that win, won the series.

Currently, my Yanks are a half a game ahead of Baahston in the standings. With hitters like Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, and Brett Gardner heating up as the weather does, and with Jeter and Colon soon to be activated, I’d say my boys are in good shape.

GO YANKEES!

Sometimes Being Wrong Feels So Right

A lot has changed since I last posted, and I’m liking how things are going right now. I graduated high school on Saturday, which was extremely bittersweet since I’ve been at that school since kindergarten and I will miss it dearly, but I’m ready for what’s next: summer, Marist College, and many surprises! Graduation was awesome, and I won a bunch of awards/scholarships because I’m a nerd like that. Along with one award came a little gift…everyone at my school knew how huge of a Yankees fan I am…

A Yankees cap and a little Jeter bear! From Yankee Stadium. Thanks to CSEA rep Mrs. Filmanski, a fellow Yankees fan and genuinely sweet lady.

But even though I’m relatively intelligent, and a fairly knowledgeable baseball fan, sometimes I’m just so wrong about my beloved New York Yankees.

Obviously, baseball is unpredictable. I thought since the Yankees had lost key players like Derek Jeter and Bartolo Colon to the 15-day DL, that maybe they wouldn’t be winning so much. Well so far, I have been wrong, and I’m fine with that. If being wrong means my team will win, I hope I’m always wrong. Since getting swept at home by the Red Sox, the Yankees have gone 8-2 and are now 41-29 on the season, right behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.

Derek Jeter, in the midst of his quest for #3,000, suffered a calf strain that will sideline him for at least the 15 days. Big blow for the fans, and an impacting factor for the team. Eduardo Nunez has filled in nicely for Jeter so far, coming up with many clutch hits. I have heard so much about the kid, but he hasn’t had much time to develop at the Big League level. Now is his chance, and he’s making the most of it. I can see now why the team thought so highly of him, and why they didn’t trade him for Cliff Lee last July when they had the chance to.

Aside from Nunez, other guys have really come alive since Jeter has gone down. Guys that I’ve been complaining about all year long – like Brett Gardner – are making me feel silly now. Gardner is hitting at an insane clip of .423 in June, and is now at .294 for the season. With Jeter gone, Gardner is getting the opportunity to shine in the leadoff spot, and he’s making the most of it. Skipper Joe Girardi has even become confident enough in Gardner to let him play against lefty pitchers.

Nick Swisher is another guy who has stepped up his game to make up for lost players. Swisher had the game winning homer in the 10-4 victory last night for the Yanks, and overall has played much more solid baseball. Maybe he’s trying to make a push for the All-Star team again? Last year I think I single handedly sent him to the game, “Sending Swish” for hours straight since voting was unlimited. I think he got hot a little late for that, but if he keeps hitting consistently well, he’ll be an All-Star in all the Yankees fans’ minds.

On the pitching side, the Yankees have suffered a huge blow with the loss of Bartolo Colon for at least 15 days. I was serious when I said he was my #1 so far. The “surprise” factor was a big deal for me. I just never expected anything out of Colon, not to mention Cy Young quality performances start after start from the guy. Losing him was not easy. Brian Gordon, whom I had never heard of until the Yankees signed him, made a start in Colon’s place against the Rangers, and did fairly well, going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs. The Yankees can survive with him in the rotation, just as long as the other guys do well, and if the bullpen continues to be amazing.

Yes, the bullpen IS amazing, despite the bombardment of injuries on guys like Chamberlain, Soriano, Feliciano, Marte, etc. The Yankees have a bunch of no-names like Cory Wade, Luis Ayala, and Jeff Marquez filling in. And to my surprise, these no-names are quickly making names for themselves. The Yankees bullpen has the best ERA in the AL. HOW is this possible? I am so blown away.

If you showed me this current Yankees roster in April, there would be no way that I’d think they’d be 1.5 games behind Boston. They have really impressed me. They’ve dug deep and stepped up big time. I wonder what’s going to happen when guys like Jeter, Colon, and Phil Hughes are activated once again.

As of right now, it looks like things can only get better.

GO YANKEES!

3 Wins: 1st Nerve-Racking, 2nd Bittersweet, 3rd Comforting

Yanks Take First Three From Tribe

I shouldn’t complain too much…I mean at least we are winning this time. Then again, the Cleveland Indians are not the same Cleveland Indians of the earlier months. But, then again, the Yankees aren’t the same either. So they’re both different, so I guess that balances out. So these three wins for my Yankees WERE legit.

Game 1 was the first game in a long time that I sat down and watched from beginning to end without falling asleep! Ivan Nova toed the rubber, and had a surprisingly dominant outing. The offense was surprisingly alive as well, exploding for 11 runs with RBIs from Robbie Canooo, SwishyNicks, Jo-P0, Ahh-the-GrandyMan-Can, Brettiboo, A-Rod, Texy-Wexy, from up and down the loaded lineup. I’m proud to report that Brett Gardner has been playing much better baseball of late, as well as Mr. Jorge Posada, whose batting average is now way over that Mendoza line (and it appears it will only continue to rise above it). Maybe Jorge wasn’t hitting because his son was going to have ANOTHER surgery, and you know, maybe since he’s a man with a heart, maybe he was nervous/stressed/upset/unfocused because of it? And maybe since his son is now recovering and the worst is behind him, maybe Jorge can concentrate fully on baseball and breathe a sigh of relief? So maybe he’s not done, so stop pushing him out before his time?

Game 1 was fun to watch in regards to Nova and the offense, but it made me nervous at other times. Like after Curtis Granderson homered in the 2nd and Mark Teixeira was immediately plunked high up on his back – if he didn’t duck it could’ve hit is head – and a fight almost broke out between Joe Girardi and Indians skipper Manny Acta. That made me nervous/infuriated because I HATE WHEN MY BOYS GET HIT. But it was all good. The Yankees added on a bunch of runs after that. So HA-HA.

The other thing that made me nervous in Game 1 was the bullpen. Yeah. My fears are realistic. The bullpen was horrendous. Utterly dreadful. The Yankees, in the 7th , had an 11-2 lead, but they had to call on Mariano Rivera to get the final outs, because the bullpen just couldn’t do it. Just thank GOD for Mo…without him, we’d really have NO ‘pen whatsoever.

I missed the entire Game 2 because I was at Marist College’s Orientation! It was a spectacular day: I got to know some students, toured the campus, and felt comfortable there throughout it all. It’s nice knowing I picked the right place! But while I was enjoying my day, the Yanks had a game to play. Bartolo Colon, according to my brothers, had his typical stellar performance, but it was cut short after he hurt a hammy covering first base. He was taken out of the game, and he is now on the 15-day DL – and he says he will return in the 15 days, but they always say that…

That is a HUGE blow to this team. Bartolo Colon is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. He’s better than CLIFF LEE. <<Yeah. I said it. And he’s a WAY better value. He, to me, is the Yankees #2 starter. And now he’s gone. The bullpen sucks, I don’t want the starting rotation to suck that badly. So the news of that 4-0 win was not as sweet as I would have hoped for.

Game 3 was extremely comforting, because I was saying how the starting rotation without Colon needed to step it up a notch, and Freddy Garcia stepped it up a few (especially when I remember his last outing…eeek). Freddy was phenomenal. 6.2 innings, 1 run, just everything the Yankees and I could have hoped for. And the offense? Explody once again, with contributions from everyone! INCLUDING those two guys I mentioned above – Brett Gardner and Jorge Posada – who are continuing their hot-hitting. Oh, and Jeet’s getting closer to #3000!

So after an icky bad stretch, the Yankees have themselves a modest three-game winning streak. The offense looks more alive, and I’m hoping overall they can be more consistent and keep this going. The starting rotation took a big blow with the loss of Colon, but if everyone can just do a littttttle bit more like what Freddy did, then maybe we can survive these “15 days” Colon promises. And the bullpen, well, I don’t know…(don’t ruin it, Virginia! You have to end on a good note!).

And um, I graduate a week from today! And my college is awesome!

The Yanks go for the SWEEP tomorrow.

GO YANKEES!

Where Have My Yankees Gone?

Yankees Struggles Continue

This past series against the Red Sox was incredibly embarrassing for my Yankees. God, it was unbearable! I thought I would finally be able to sit down and watch a good ballgame, because when they were out West I usually found myself waking up startled on the living room couch at 1am with the game over. Going back East, back HOME, seemed so comforting.

Not this time!

For some odd reason, the Yankees have struggled so far in the Bronx this year, when previously, they had a great homefield advantage at Yankee Stadium. Their record is just 17-16 in New York – definitely not good enough.

I don’t want to do recaps of these three games, because they were miserable. The Red Sox owned the Yankees, but I kind of feel like the Yankees beat themselves. This is not the team I saw in April, and there are many reasons why.

First of all, injuries. Not to make excuses or anything, but the Yankees have been ravaged by the injury bug. Remember that seemingly-unfaltering bullpen they had in April? It’s all gone. Completely destroyed. Rafael Soriano (who was very disappointing anyway, but I didn’t think he would stay bad for long) is out for God knows how long with an inflamed ligament in his throwing elbow. So there goes the 8th inning. Joba Chamberlain was recently diagnosed with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow, and he may undergo Tommy John surgery. He’s pretty much out for at least the rest of this season. So there goes the 7th inning. Now the Yankees have names like Luis Ayala and Lance Pendleton, who looks a lot like Woody Harrelson, finishing up games for them. These are not the type of player who is going to win the team a championship. The Yankees need to so some serious work.

And speaking of Joba: remember those Joba Rules? Like, the rules stating: “Let’s coddle and baby and shelter our prospects from the real world of baseball that involves pitching, because we don’t want them to injure themselves, so we’ll make a ridiculous proposal stating the exact amount of innings they can pitch, keeping in mind that they can’t pitch back to back days – God FORBID – and they can’t throw more than this many pitches in a game, and they have to use this much ice on their elbow after the game, and shower for this long, and” – okay you get it. THOSE absurd rules.  Remember them? They were also used for other pitching prospects, like Phil Hughes. Well I have just one question:

WHY ARE PHIL HUGHES AND JOBA CHAMBERLAIN SERIOUSLY INJURED?

 

I don’t believe we will see either Phil Hughes OR Joba Chamberlain again this season, and I doubt if Joba has Tommy John surgery, that we will ever see him play in a Yankees uniform again.

It seems like the Yankees are clueless when it comes to managing their players. These “Joba”-type rules are insanity. Coincidence that both these guys are damaged now? I don’t know. All I know is that, back in the day, when baseball players were MEN and not BABIES, they played the game. They didn’t have innings limits, pitch counts, or Joba Rules of any sort. And they had perfectly fine careers. I don’t get why they can’t just do that today. I mean what, this way is any better? It seems that players are way too fragile nowadays, hence these injuries.

The Yankees are currently 33-27, but they really have not been playing well of late. They just don’t have that “spark” that they used to have. I don’t know why. Their team needs improvement drastically – in so many aspects. Relief pitching, for one. But also clutch hitting. I think the Yankees owe it to the fans to do something to get them a little excited, because maybe if the fans have a spark, it will translate into the team having some fire again. I say, since they need bullpen help and offensive help right away, just bring up some kids – and DON’T screw them up with “RULES.” Let them play the friggin’ game. Russell Martin is a little hurt, Posada isn’t hitting well? Try bringing up Jesus Montero for a catcher/DH. Maybe bring up Andrew Brackman (who is in Triple-A, just itching to get a taste of the Bigs) or Dellin Betances, and just try them out in the bullpen or in the rotation. Just DO it! Other teams do it all the time. Other teams actually USE their prospects! What a novel idea!

It may sound crazy to some, but I swear by my idea. The kids are obviously good. They’ve been sitting there, wasting away in the Minors. They are good enough and experienced enough down there to come up. And since the Yankees are struggling mightily and don’t even look like the Yankees, maybe now is the right time to make a bold move like this.

Maybe now’s the time to get a team together again.

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