July 2011

RIP Hideki Irabu

I’m sure most people know the news by now: former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead, an apparent suicide by hanging. I hadn’t heard anything about it, but a friend asked me “Where’s your Irabu piece?” and I had no idea what he was talking about. So I googled him, and I discovered the shocking news.

It’s funny: I vaguely remember watching baseball in 1998 and 1999, I was like 5 or 6 then, yet I don’t have any memory whatsoever of Hideki Irabu. Even so, this is a tragedy that really saddens me. No one wants to hear these kinds of stories. And even though I didn’t have a special connection with Irabu and never saw him play, Irabu was once a Yankee and will always be part of the Yankees family – which is my family too – so this news is very upsetting.

RIP, Hideki.

In his Yankees days, Irabu never lived up to the great expectations people had of him. Even so, he was a pretty influential guy, helping to break the ice for other Japanese players.

I feel like most Japanese players that come to America are a little disappointing. Dice-K was a big waste of money, Akinori Iwamura and Kaz Matsui were never that great, and let’s not forget Kei Igawa of the New York Yankees Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. When the Red Sox signed Dice-K, the Yankees got Igawa. As much of a disappointment as Dice-K was, Igawa was 10 times worse. He could never do it in the Bigs for the Yanks. But even though he sucked, I just couldn’t hate him. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I always laughed at how he’d always be running around Yankee stadium. My family and I joked that if he didn’t make it as a pitcher, the Yanks could use him as a pinch runner!

The best Japanese players I’ve had the honor of watching are definitely Ichiro Suzuki, whose rookie card is one of my most prized cards, and Hideki Matsui, who won the 2009 World Series for my guys. These guys were legit superstars. They were even better that I expected. I think maybe I’ve held all Japanese players to standards that were just too high – Ichiro is one of the best players to have EVER played baseball in the Majors, in my mind he’s a no-doubt first ballot HOF – so is it really fair to expect all Japanese players to be like Ichiro?

It’s always exciting to hear about international signings. Even if the players don’t always live up to expectations, it’s still fun. Baseball has come such a long way, and it is truly a global game now. I hope its popularity continues to grow around the world. It’s such a wonderful game, why should it only be America’s pastime?

With the trade deadline ticking closer, I’m wondering what, if anything, my Yanks will do. I heard rumors involving Hiroki Kuroda…we’ll see what happens!

GO YANKEES!

I Should Make Lineups More Often!

So remember when I was complaining about the Yankees offense without A-Rod? It was really bad, they couldn’t hit, and I was frustrated, so I proposed my own lineup.

I’m convinced that someone from the Yankees is secretly reading my blog or stalking my facebook or something, because they’re listening to me about stuff!

In my last blog post, I said the Yankees should do something different to shake up the lineup, maybe to spark the offense and get something going. I strongly suggested that the top 3 should look like this:

#1 Brett Gardner

#2 Derek Jeter

#3 Curtis Granderson

I then said for Cano to be cleanup and Teix 5th, but last night the Yankees had Teix 4th and Cano 5th. It still worked out, so that was okay.

I wanted Swish 6th and Posada 7th, which the Yankees did. And because Martin had the night off, it was Nunez in the 8 hole with my sweet Cervelli batting 9th. It was pretty close to what I wanted, but I was just thrilled that they “listened” to me with the 1-2-3 spots.

Some people liked my lineup idea. Some people criticized my lineup, saying the Yanks would never do it. Well they did it, it was MARVELOUS, and they’re doing it again today, and I don’t blame them.

SCORING 17 RUNS IS SUCCESS. DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS.

The Yankees were down 2-0 early because Phil Hughes still sucks, but I quickly forgot about Hughes’s suckiness once the Yankees bats came alive. They scored 5 runs in the 2nd, in which my 1-2-3 guys Gardy, Jeet, and Grandy knocked in 4 of the 5 runs.

The offense continued to explode in bunches. Nick Swisher’s 3-run homer made it 8-2, and later on Mark Teixeira hit a GRAND SLAM which made it 14-2. Clearly, rearranging the batting order did not mess with anyone’s rhythm last night.

Even though it looked like a blowout, I was not entirely confident that the Yanks would win, knowing that Phil Hughes was on the mound. I’m kind of frustrated with him. The Yankees should’ve included Hughes in the package for Roy Halladay way back when they had the chance. Now he’s losing value fast!

Hughes, despite having heavy run support, was not able to get through the 5 innings and earn himself a win. He didn’t deserve to get the win anyways. 7 runs in 4.1 innings is not win-worthy, and I don’t blame Girardi for taking him out. Once Hughes was out of the picture, I felt the game was locked up.

The bullpen did a pretty good job last night holding the game where it was. In the end, it was a 17-7 victory for my Yanks. I cannot explain how comforting it was. And I love having bragging rights. The offense had been struggling mightily, and once they adapted my lineup idea, the offense came alive.

I seriously should suggest things more often.

So Yankees, my birthday is in August, maybe you guys should send me some tickets? After all, I helped you win last night!

Worth a try, haha…

GO YANKS!!!

Damn That Dome

 

This is why baseball should be played outside:

 

Damn that Dome.

That’s not why the Yankees lost, but it sure didn’t help them win! That 7th inning was utterly disgusting. First an infield single, then a real single…then Colon was out. Then the lazy fly ball to center…my poor Curtis. It must be such a lonely feeling when your out there under the ball, then all of a sudden it’s gone, and there’s nothing you can do about it. When I saw Curtis’s hands flail as he desperately tried to find the ball again, I knew the tone was set for the rest of the game. That ball indeed dropped. Boone Logan then had a chance to exit the inning, but he botched what should have been a 1-2-3 double play. Nope. Right off the glove! And all runners were safe. Then my Curtis had a chance to redeem himself, and made a nice diving play in center. But by leaving his feet, he allowed the Rays runner to score on a sac fly. He tried making up for leaving his feet, but his throw sailed wildly wide of the plate. That slim 1 run lead the Yankees enjoyed became a 1-run deficit before my eyes. And they lost it by 1 run.

Now I know it’s unfair to blame the dome, so I’m not really “blaming” the dome, I’m just expressing my disgust in the fact that there is a dome. And I’m not just hating on the dome because the GrandyMan lost the ball. When I saw the Yankees’s schedule for after the All-Star break and saw they’d be on the road in Toronto and Tampa Bay, I said, “Jeez, the two most boring, head-achy, and ugly stadiums in a row.”

Not to mention, ballparks where my cute centerfielder loses the ball which ultimately leads to a loss! Just get rid of them! Or move those teams. No one ever goes to Blue Jays games or Rays games unless they play the Yankees, anyway.

I said I wouldn’t do that, I apologize. Perhaps I’m avoiding the real problem here.

Over the All-Star break, my Grandma’s favorite player, and our cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez underwent surgery to repair his impaired knee. Since his absence, the Yankees are 3-3, and their offense just isn’t the same…they don’t have that extra “oomph” they have when A-Rod is in the lineup. I didn’t really worry too much when I heard he was having the surgery. I remembered how the Yankees went 14-4 without their Captain, Derek Jeter. I didn’t think they would struggle even more without A-Rod.

I think, since the offense is stinking up a storm, maybe Joe Girardi should implement some lineup tweaks? Since he hasn’t done anything yet? Everyone’s been talking about how hot Brett Gardner has been, so why is he batting 9th? I say, but your best guys up top, so the heart of the order is actually good, so maybe a rally can actually happen instead of having a stinky guy come up with runners in scoring position and just kill everything. I don’t see what the big deal about shaking up the lineup will be – I mean are they doing well the way they are now? All that talk about rhythm, protection, it just bugs me. I mean these guys are Major League hitters. Stop being so sensitive. Hit the damn ball, that’s what you’re getting paid for.

I say just try something different, something like this:

#1 Brett Gardner

#2 Derek Jeter

#3 Curtis Granderson

#4 Robinson Cano

#5 Mark Teixeira

#6 Nick Swisher

#7 Jorge Posada

#8 Russell Martin

#9 Eduardo Nunez

And YES, I know Granderson and Cano are back-to-back lefties, but I don’t think it matters at all. Both Grandy and Cano are not neutralized by lefties. They both still hit very well against them with Cano at an insane clip .342 against lefties. Gardner at the top, why not? So he struggled up there in the beginning of the year – he struggled in GENERAL at the beginning of the year. The team needs a spark, and Gardner can provide it. I mean he can’t be any worse than Jeter up there. And he has stolen I think 12 bases in a row now? Oh, and he leads in stolen bases with 29. So this way when he leads off with a single, he can steal 2nd and not worry about Jeter grounding into a double play.

I doubt they’re going to do anything to spark the offense, but I would give it a try. Just like Billy Martin did. Pull the names out of a hat, and that’d be the lineup order! DO SOMETHING!

Maybe then, it won’t matter what kind of ridiculous excuse for a stadium they’d play in. Even if a ball is lost here or there, they’d still be able to HIT!

Oh well, one more game in this place, then back home to that beautiful ballpark in the Bronx.

GO YANKS!

ROBBIE CANO! DONTCHYA KNOW!!!

Ha..haha…hahaha. Oh yeah, I said it.

The Home Run Derby is always an event that I look forward to, but it’s even more fun when one of my guys is in it. The competitors this year were very imposing, and I felt that in that list of powerful players, my Cano was a little overshadowed.

Perhaps that worked to his advantage.

I feel like everyone who was asked “Who is going to win it this year?” answered, “Ohh Adrian Gonzalez.” They all jumped on the “He’s the greatest player ever” bandwagon.

Hahaha.

Naturally, I picked Cano from the beginning.

I didn’t know how he was going to perform. I remember how he wanted to participate in the Derby last year, but was hurt. This year, he was ready. But it always makes me nervous watching my guy perform in something that I bet on, because his performance is out of my control. I’m like a nervous mother watching her boy: all she can do is watch and hope.

After I saw him hit his first home run, I relaxed. I then knew he would get it.

I just think it was so fitting that it came down to Gonzalez and Cano. Yankees against Red Sox. My brothers and I were annoyed that throughout Cano’s rounds, the announcers didn’t really talk about Cano. They didn’t sit there oohing at his every move like they did with Gonzalez. They talked about his Dad being in great shape and not smiling, and they talked about some stupid kid on the field making a diving catch on one of Cano’s outs. They didn’t marvel at Cano. But that’s okay. Being the underdog was the way to go. And by the end, he had the crowd on his side.

After Adrian Gonzalez hit 11 HR in the final round, everyone was set to crown him the winner. “Oh, A-Gon made it awfully tough for Cano!”

Haha yeah think again.

Cano’s swing was so effortless all throughout the night. He just got better and better. And when he hit that final homer, the 12th, I was ecstatic.

He stood there in perfect balance after his swing, his perfect swing, then raised his arms, and his teammates Russell Martin, Curtis Granderson, and David Robertson who has supported him all night, raised him up. His Daddy smiled (aww).

It was just so perfect, I can’t even describe how happy I was when he won. Let’s just say I’m still smiling.

So the underdog Robinson Cano wins over the anointed-champion Adrian Gonzalez. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for the 2nd half: the underdog Yankees will prevail over the anointed-champion Red Sox.

Most definitely. It’s gonna be a fun 2nd half.

Until then, enjoy the All-Star game everyone!

GO YANKEES/AL!!!

C”Cy” Gets A Pie

Hefty-Lefty Spectacular in Series Finale Win

After the historic day yesterday, I didn’t think life could get any better for a Yankees fan. Heading into today’s game with the series tied 1-1 with one game rained out, and looking ahead to the All-Star Break tomorrow, I figured it would be pretty nice to win today. And with our big ace on the hill, I knew we had a good chance at a W.

I remember the last time CC pitched, the Yankees had an offensive explosion and scored 9 runs. Then Michael Kay brought up the fact that CC was a guy who received some of the most run support in the league. I remembered that coming into today’s game.

I love how Michael Kay jinxes everything!

It was more like an offensive outage today, but hey, I’m fine with that. We won! And it’s all thanks to CC.

No runs? No problem. CC didn’t need too many – in fact 1 was enough. That 1 run was courtesy of sloppy defense from the Rays BJ Upton and James Shields. With Cano on first, Upton tried to throw him out after catching Posada’s fly ball. He threw it into the dugout, awarding 2 bases to Cano. In an attempt to pickoff Cano at third, Shields threw the ball crazy, allowing Cano to score. Tough luck. I guess he deserved, though. Shields is the leading guy for pickoffs, maybe he got too full of himself. Whatever. That 1 run was all CC needed. He CRUISED along today.

CC Sabathia threw a complete game 4-hit shutout and struckout 9 Rays along the way. He made it look so easy, throwing just 113 pitches. And that last fastball was clocked at 98 mph. PURE GAS. CC was pumped, and rightfully so. He threw a helluva ballgame.

Obviously the team was just as pleased in the Hefty-Lefty as I was. During his on-the-field interview, CC was pied by the always-stealth A.J. Burnett. I did not expect that! It wasn’t a walkoff win, but it was just as exciting. There’s nothing like watching the best pitcher own a division rival.

I didn’t think things could get better for a Yankees fan like myself, but they DID. There’s more aside from this win worth celebrating. I campaigned for and made a huge fuss about my boys, David Robertson and CC Sabathia, because I didn’t understand why they were not All-Stars. Their numbers were far superior to any other competitor, yet they were snubbed. Well apparently, someone heard my voice (or they just grew a brain), and Robertson and Sabathia have rightfully been named to the AL All-Star team.

So as if they didn’t already, my Yankees completely dominate the AL All-Star roster, though some guys will not be participating. But that’s okay – they still get the little All-Star icon next to 2011 on the backs of their baseball cards.

The Yankee representatives in the All-Star game are Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and David Robertson.

Since the All-Star game is to honor the best, and the Yankees are the best team, so naturally they are well-represented. I’m proud of my boys.

Great game today, my sweet chocolate chip Hefty-Lefty C”Cy” Sabathia! Congrats on your 13-4 record, 2.72 ERA, and All-Star first half.  You’ve been worth every penny so far!

Rest up, Yanks, and have fun in Arizona to those that are attending!

CONGRATS, JEET!!!

HE DID IT!

It was only a matter of time until it happened. But even so, I cheered as if I didn’t expect it. Everyone tried to predict when and how it would happen. After the rain out last night, I was disappointed. But I awoke this morning to the sight of sunlight peeking through my blinds, and I knew it was going to be a good day, and that there would indeed be baseball. And where there was baseball, there was a chance at history. And today it came, and I saw it.

Coming off of a season with a career low in batting average, it was important for Derek Jeter to bounce back in 2011. Although voted in as the All-Star shortstop, Jeter’s numbers did not reflect that. But now those numbers don’t seem very important at all. The number that matters to everyone now is 3,000.

What a day for Derek Jeter. He recorded hits 2,999, 3,000, 3,001, 3,002, and 3,003. But he didn’t just get the hits. Just as we are all accustomed to, Jeter did his thing in dramatic fashion.

http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16783041&c_id=nyy

Could it have been written out any better? Jeter himself said that if someone came to him with that script, he would never buy it. It was a storybook swing. This kind of thing can only happen in Yankee Stadium, to a Yankee – and what a perfect Yankee Jeter is.

I’m so happy I was able to see the moment when it happened. Watching Jeter genuinely smile with an emotional rush of rapture and relief, seeing the teammates greet him at home plate, hearing the unbridled cheers from the loyal Yankee fans, everything. It was amazing.

Derek, congratulations on this incredible milestone. The only Yankee to reach 3,000. The 28th player to. The 2nd to do so with a home run. And if that wasn’t enough, you go 5-for-5 and get the game winning hit? It’s a Yankees Classic for sure.

Seeing Jeter genuinely relieved, and considering how well he swung the stick today, I really think he’s going to turn his season around. He can just focus on the game again, and on the team instead of on his milestone.

Anyone who agrees with me that Jeter still has a lot left in the tank, please vote for me in my debate. I want to show everyone how many people still believe in Derek: http://fanvsfan.com/claims/derek-jeter-is-dying-out

While everyone else is focusing on that 3,000, Jeter is focusing on 28. Not 28 as in 28th to reach the milestone – 28 as in World Series Championship. There’s a lot of baseball still left to play. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to watching Derek Jeter shine even more.

WE LOVE YA, JEET!

GO YANKEES!!!

First-Half Heroes

As I predicted, the Yankees did win the series in Citi against the Mets, though the final game left a bad taste in my mouth. Last night’s opener against the Indians was hard to swallow as well. So instead of recapping those select games, I want to look at the first half of the season in general, shouting out to the ones who are mostly responsible for where the Yankees are now.

These are the top 5 guys who I’ve singled out as the First-Half Heroes, and it was very hard to pick just 5 of them:

#5 Bartolo Colon

I’ve said it a million times, but I’ll just say it again: when I heard the Yankees signed Colon, I was extremely doubtful. I thought he was just some big fat has-been who would get injured right away, or would just flat-out suck. Bartolo Colon has truly been a blessing for the Yankees. He is 6-3 with a sparkling 2.88 ERA. He did spend a short stint on the DL with an injured hammy, but as promised, he didn’t need to stay on the DL longer. He made it back as fast as he could, and it didn’t even seem like he missed a beat at all. His first start off the DL, Saturday against the Mets, was as good a game as he’s pitched all year long: 6 innings of shutout baseball, and just 80 pitches. I’m hoping Colon can continue to carry the Yankees in the next half.

#4 Freddy Garcia

Like Colon, I was a little unsure when the Yankees signed Freddy Garcia. I was aware that this 35 year old righty was not the same pitcher he once was, and that his fastball rarely even touched 90 mph anymore. But whatever he’s been doing, it’s been working this year. Garcia reminds me of a Mike Mussina type – a guy who figures out how to win even though he’s not the same pitcher he once was. A guy who keeps hitters off balance, and a guy who is truly intelligent on the mound. A pitcher, not a thrower. Garcia’s numbers are amazing: so far, he is 7-6 with a very solid 3.13 ERA. My Mom and I always joke about him. It seems like he pitches EVERY DAY. But that’s okay, because more often than not, the Yankees win when he’s on the mound.

#3 Eduardo Nunez

Yes, Eduardo Nunez – even though he has made 9 errors. The Yankees didn’t go 14-4 without Derek Jeter for no reason. Eduardo Nunez did an amazing job filling in. So even though he made 9 errors, they didn’t really cost the team THAT much. Look how good they were without Derek! Nunez, though still progressing, really impressed me with the bat. The kid swings that stick pretty well. He’s hitting .278 with 3 HR and 14 RBI on the season. I’ve seen him successfully bunt for hits on more than one occasion, I’ve seen him steal bases (he has 10 on the season), and he’s shown me why the Yankees thought so highly of him. He looks like he belongs, and I hope I still a lot of him in the second half, only under better circumstances.

#2 Curtis Granderson

Ask anyone around here, I said it over the offseason: I expected HUGE things out of Curtis Granderson this season. I said I expected 40 HR. Looks like he’ll get there. Curtis Granderson has been a savior for the Yankees this season. When the other big bats went dry, Granderson stepped up. It’s so hard to put him as #2 on this list, considering how good he has been. He is an all-around strong baseball player. Currently, he is hitting .274 with 23 HR and 59 RBI. He has stolen 15 bases, and has made countless great plays in the outfield, where he uses his speed to his advantage. I am proud to have Curtis on the All-Star team this year, and even more proud that he is on the Yankees. Not only is he amazing on the field, but he is a real Yankee off the field as well. Granderson is such a genuinely kind, charitable man. He is the epitome of what it means to wear the Yankee pinstripes, on and off the field, and the Yankees surely would not be where they are this season if it weren’t for Granderson.

#1 David Robertson

David Robertson just might be God. Or maybe Houdini. I can’t go on enough about what he has meant for this team. Throughout the entire season, the Yankee bullpen has lost key, KEY components. They’ve had to dig very deep to fill in the holes created by injuries to try and build a new bridge to Mariano. But the one guy who they could always count on was David Robertson. No matter what the inning, 6th, 7th, 8th, no matter what the “impossible” jam, Robertson would come in and get the team out of it, making the opposing hitters look silly. His stats are mind-blowing: a 1.05 ERA, 55 strikeouts, and the highest K/9 innings ratio at 14.4 K/9. It’s insane how good he is. But what’s even more INSANE is how David Robertson is NOT an All-Star. I mean is there anyone BETTER than him? In my opinion, David Robertson is the Yankee that is the most deserving of the All-Star honor. And he’s not going. And that really bothers me.

It bothered me enough to create a debate. I doubt anyone’s going to take on this challenge, I mean there’s just no way they can debate me on this…there is no OTHER SIDE! He deserves to be there!!!

http://fanvsfan.com/claims/david-robertson-should-be-an-all-star

Oh well. Robertson, you are an All-Star in my book. Congrats to you and all the other Yankees that made my Yankees First-Half Heroes list. Best of luck in the next half.

GO YANKEES!

Are The Brewers Really That Bad?

…Or are my Yankees really just that good?

When I heard that the Yankees were going to play the Brewers, and that the Brewers were in first place in the NL Central, I thought that maybe the series would be a little bit competitive. I was totally wrong. I can’t say I’m disappointed, though. A sweep is always fun. I never see the Brewers, and I had heard pretty good things about them. They didn’t show any of that on the ballfield.

But let’s give some credit where credit is due: the Yankees played some pretty darn good baseball over this homestand.

Clutch hitting, offensive explosions, and amazing starting pitching. All that together…up against a team that didn’t play solid baseball…huge advantage there. Everything the Brewers couldn’t do, the Yankees did.

-Making The Plays

Aside from Eduardo Nunez (as usual) the Yankee defense was extremely solid over this series. They were fundamentally sound. In the first game of this series, Nyjer Morgan misplayed a ball in centerfield, wound up falling down, and pretty much gave Curtis Granderson a triple.

Yankee outfielders, Nick Swisher especially, play fantastic defense. Swisher showed time and time again how well he plays the wall out in right, and he also showed off a cannon of an arm. There was one play where Swisher threw out Corey Hart, who tried to score with 2 outs when his team was down (dumb move). It was a perfect 1-bouncer right at Russell Martin.

-The Big Home Runs

It seemed that in this series, whenever the Yanks were down or the game was tight, someone came up with a big home run that either got them back into the game, or solidified the fact that they were going to win. Nick Swisher had a big 3-run home run in game 1. Russell Martin had the go-ahead 3-run homer in game 2, and Mark Teixeira hit his 300th career home run in the 5-0 finale. The Brewers, a team with so much power, didn’t do anything. I really was surprised.

-Beyond Solid Starting Pitching

Starting pitching really sets the tone for how the game will play out. And when my Yankee starters, Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and CC Sabathia, appear solid early on, I have a good feeling about the game. I couldn’t be more proud of the Yankees starting rotation this year. I thought it would be a weakness, especially after the ravaging injuries. Everyone has really stepped it up big time, especially A.J. Burnett, who last June went 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA. This year, he had himself a solid June, and even when he struggled, he was able to minimize the damage instead of exploding like he did last season. And with his 7 inning, 2-run outing against the Brewers, I’d say he closed out the month nicely.

CC Sabathia closed out his June in lights-out fashion, throwing 7.2 innings of shutout baseball and striking out 13 Brewers along the way. I guess he just gets a little more into it when he faces a former team.

The Brewers did not pitch, hit, or in general, play good baseball against the Yankees. After the series, I was surprised they were even IN first place to begin with! A little over-matched against the AL East leading Yankees I guess.

AL East leading Yankees…yup, and I love saying it. My boys are currently 2.5 games ahead of Baahston. They start the big Subway Series tonight, and I am confident that they will win this series, just as they have won every other interleague series this year.

GO YANKEES!

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