Offseason is ON! Little Signing Here, Little Signing There…

As much as Yankees fans may try to convince themselves that they are okay with GM Brian Cashman doing nothing, parts of us are just not ready to fully accept that nothing will actually happen. I’m okay with it, but I still can’t believe that it’s going to be this way. All I’ve ever known in my lifetime were the Yankees that went out there and made moves, whether via free agency or trades. I haven’t liked every move my franchise has made in my lifetime, but overall I’d say they’ve done a pretty respectable job, considering in my 18 years they have won 5 World Series Championships, and I only remember them not making the playoffs once, back in 2008.

And it’s hard to believe that they’ll do nothing. I’ll never forget the day the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira on December 23, 2008. I went on the Yankees website during my last period in school only to find this article titled, “Hal: No Yanks offers to Tex…” and I left school thinking that my Christmas would be ruined. 6:30 later that night, an article was posted saying that they had signed Teixeira. It’s impossible for me to forget these kinds of things. How can one really take the Yankees organization seriously?

Sure, there are no free agents that appeal to the needs of the Yankees right now. Starting pitching, as Cashman has tirelessly noted, is the number one priority of this team. As each player – Wilson, Darvish, Buehrle, Danks, Gonzalez – found a new home that wasn’t New York, the frustrations of some fans boiled over, and rightfully so. We have to wonder what they’re up to if they let all of these players go by.

Sometimes I wondered if Brian Cashman was even conscious. Where has he been this offseason?

Although not incredibly exciting whatsoever, Cashman has made some moves for the Yankees – small, miniscule things that don’t change much – but at least he has proven to me that he is indeed alive, and may actually be working.

The two relatively recent signings were that of former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima and returning right handed bench player Andruw Jones.

The Hideki Okajima signing doesn’t do much for me. He had three great years in Boston and then became less and less effective. At 36 years old, the lefty was awarded with a Minor League deal from the Yankees and will compete for the otehr lefty-specialist spot in the bullpen. Boone Logan has managed to hold his own with that job for the Yankees, so even if the Yankees aren’t satisfied with their second-lefty options, I don’t really think it’s the end of the world.

I expected the Yankees to bring back Andruw Jones, so I’m not especially excited about this move, but I am very pleased. Andruw Jones exceeded my expectations last season, hitting .247 with 13 HR and 33 RBI, but really picking it up after the All-Star break, where he hit .291 and earned more playing time. I thought he would go off to another team and try to be an everyday player, but I’m glad he’s still with the Yankees. He has 15 years of experience, but he’s still just 34 and still has a baby-face and charming smile. And for just $2 million with additional incentives, I’d say Jones is a steal.

As I noted earlier, neither of these signings will satisfy the hungry Yankees fans. They aren’t spectacular, but they are practical, wise investments that are low-risk and high-reward. You really can’t go wrong with either Andruw Jones or Hideki Okajima.

Speaking of low-risk and high-reward and not going wrong, and keeping mind the number one priority of the Yankees this offseason, I’m wondering why the Yankees aren’t going after Roy Oswalt. Like Jones, Oswalt is a 34 year old veteran with over 10 years of experience in the Bigs. All he wants is a 1-year contract anyways, so even if he sucks, after the one year, he’ll be gone. With a career ERA of 3.21, it’s highly unlikely that he will completely flop. The Yankees are concerned with his back issues, but really? A one year contract, you won’t even do that? They signed Bartolo Colon last season, who had more than his fair share of injuries, and he was fantastic for them.

Oswalt is definitely someone for the Yankees to think about, but they better hurry. If they think for too long, he might be gone like the rest of them…

I’m not going to get my hopes up, because I don’t want to be disappointed. But this will remain in the back of my mind until I hear otherwise.

42 days until pitchers and catchers report!

I can’t wait to see my YANKEES.

Offseason Is On: ENOUGH OF A-ROD

Happy New Year, everybody! The changing of the calendar is a time where people are optimistic about the future, ambitious in setting goals, and determined in trying to achieve them. We start off with a clean slate and hope for the best. My goals for 2012 are to keep doing well in school and aim for another 3.925 GPA (or higher!), to blog more and not just wait for the Yankees to give me something to write about, and to get as good at playing guitar as I am at playing piano. Oh, and for my Mom, I said I’d stop doing unladylike things when the Yankees get on my nerves, or at least make a valiant effort to try…

Although the Yankees haven’t made any moves to get me excited for the 2012 season, overall I am still optimistic. They haven’t gotten anyone, but they haven’t traded away those cute rookies such as Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos yet either. I don’t know how they’ll do in 2012, but I am looking forward to the season. How can we not be excited about a new baseball season? Everyone starts out at 0-0, Burnett’s ERA isn’t above 5 yet, and everyone has a chance to redeem themselves (yes, I believe in you, A.J.)!

Everybody but A-Rod.

I know that’s unfair. But I’ve tried – I’ve really tried – I wipe his slate clean. The Yankees have made no news in the offseason, but Alex Rodriguez has had his fair share of coverage once again, and I can’t say I’m happy about it. I’m just sick of Alex Rodriguez’s predictable nonsense.

It’s the same thing every year: after the Yankees lose in the postseason because A-Rod is unclutch, he promises that he will “come back with a vengeance” in the next season. Yeah, he said that last season and he sucked. $32 million for a .276 avg, 16 HR, and 62 RBI in 99 games, with an extremely aggravating .111 avg in the postseason. I know he was hurt. I don’t care (heartless, I know). The surgery was one thing. But the thumb – your THUMB? Maybe if you got your thumb out from your you-know-where you’d be okay.

Oooh…that was harsh.

Perhaps it’s unfair to pick on him for last year when he was hurt. But I can’t help it. When he said he’s rehabbing and working to get back, and then I see him in the dugout with that stupid smile, I just think he’s so disingenuous. I don’t believe anything he says. Why would be bust to get back when he is already guaranteed millions and millions? He doesn’t even look like he’s trying or he cares when he’s out there. Every time he strikes out, he walks away flipping his bat, and looking back at the radar to see how fast the pitch was that he swung and missed at – usually a low-mid 90s fastball that for some odd reason he can’t catch up to – and he makes that face that’s like, “Oh well. I’m A-Rod!” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me…

I’ve already lost my patience with A-Rod for 2012. He says he’ll be back with a vengeance, then we heard he went all the way to Germany for some bizarre blood-spinning procedure. So he’s not healthy. Great, another excuse to suck.

Then the other night my brother shows me an article from the New York Daily News in which A-Rod has been spotted at least three times with former WWE Diva and Playboy sensation Torrie Wilson, yet another gorgeous blonde to distract him from baseball. I might be overreacting about this, but I’ve just had enough. It’s the same old thing with A-Rod.

So he says he’ll be better in 2012? It doesn’t look it. Just another wasted $30+ million. I can’t believe we have 6 more years of this. And there’s no way he’s going to get any better at 36 years old. Sometimes I wish the Yankees would just get rid of him and eat the money – that’s how fed up I am. Who needs superstars? Scott Brosius was no superstar, and they won with him at third base.

If I was manager, I wouldn’t bat Rodriguez cleanup anymore. Cleanup is for the productive guy. Striking out and scowling at the radar gun is not productive – I’m sorry. That spot should be for either Curtis Granderson or Robinson Cano, because they’ve earned it.

 

 

My Opening Day lineup would look something like this:

1) Derek Jeter

2) Nick Swisher

3) Robinson Cano

4) Curtis Granderson

5) Mark Teixeira

6) Alex Rodriguez

7) Jesus Montero

8) Russell Martin

9) Brett Gardner

Originally, I had Teixeira 6th and A-Rod 5th, but in the process of writing this post, I demoted A-Rod again because I’m staring at that picture of him smiling, and I’m struggling to refrain from smacking him and breaking my laptop screen in the process. So because of all that unnecessary effort I’m expelling, I demoted him further.

But actually, Jesus Montero might provide him with some protection. I can’t get the images of that kid hitting line-drive opposite-field home runs at Yankee Stadium out of my mind…

I say to start the season with this lineup. If A-Rod wants to bat clean up, then he’s going to have to earn it. Why, just because he makes the most money, he is guaranteed the star-spot in the order? How’s that fair? I’m tired of watching the top of the Yankees order do so much, just to see A-Rod negate it all by failing to come through in the clutch. Granderson is a guy who I think earned this spot in the order by proving that he can come through after his MVP-worthy 2011 campaign.

Will Joe Girardi listen to me? Nope. It’s sad. A new season, but the same old thing.

If A-Rod miraculously does well in 2012, I’ll apologize. I’ll do whatever. Someone make a bet with me. I’m not worried. I know I’ll win.

47 days until pitchers and catchers report. It may not sound like it after this post, but I am looking forward to seeing my boys in 2012!

Everyone but A-Rod, that is.

Offseason Is On: Inactivity For The Win?

A year ago at this time, I was just beginning to accept that the Yankees didn’t get Cliff Lee. That pained me for a long time, but I slowly convinced myself that it was okay, and that I had other things to look forward to in the season. I later said that I wouldn’t care how well the Yankees did – I just wanted to see some of the young guys come up and play and make an impact. I waited and waited, and finally, Jesus Montero debuted on September 1. To the surprise of many, the 21 year old got hot quickly, without letting the pressure of being the best prospect on the best team in the best city get to him. Although the season was cut short as the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the ALDS and the ultimate goal of bringing home #28 was not accomplished, I can look back on 2011 and smile. The rookie brought me hope.

I’ve been extremely busy finishing up my first semester in college, and I knew I wouldn’t have been able to follow the events of the offseason the way I would have liked to, but I made sure to check up on things every once in awhile to see if my Yanks did anything. CC Sabathia received a contract extension and Freddy Garcia was signed – moves which were either expected or not all that exciting. No major changes have been made to the Yankees yet, despite Cashman’s claims that the starting pitching is in need of improvement.

Awhile back, I did a debate saying Yu Darvish should go to the Yankees. At first I didn’t really think so, but when formulating my argument supporting that claim, I wound up convincing myself. I though Yu Darvish made a ton of sense for the Yankees. CJ Wilson didn’t appeal to me because I am not fond of giving up draft picks, and when CJ Wilson is the best pitcher on the market, there’s a problem. I didn’t want the Yankees to overpay for him.

Now I know Darvish isn’t going to be cheap, but I still think he made sense for the Yankees. The posting fee wouldn’t have counted towards the luxury tax threshold that the Yankees are trying to get under – it’s just disposable money, and the Yankees have a fair amount of that. Besides, since they didn’t do anything else this offseason, they could have put in a better bid than one that was described as just “modest.” I don’t know what Darvish’s actual contract would be, but what I do know is that many are wary of giving a rather large deal to a guy who is unproven in America. Still, there’s risk with every player. Who knows if CJ Wilson would have been able to succeed in New York? And the rookies, as much as I want to see them, they’re unproven as well. Granted, they don’t have the same kind of price tag…

I know Yu Darvish is a risk, but I wish the Yankees pursued him more actively. They’ve been scouting him for years now. I know so many people who say just that because he’s from Japan, they don’t want him. And yes, I know teams have been burned by international signings before – I remember Igawa. But Darvish is supposed to be ten times better than all the other international signings combined. To me, if you can pitch, you can pitch no matter where you are on the globe. Darvish is extremely, incredibly dominant in Japan. Maybe in the United States, he’d be just regular-dominant – perfect for a number-two starter.

Yu Darvish was all I wanted for Christmas this year from Cashman, much like Cliff Lee was all I wanted last year. The free agent market for starting pitching is pretty dry this year, and Darvish to me was the best free-agent option. And if nothing else, it would have been exciting to have him on the Yankees. Darvish is headed to Texas, and the better free agents are no longer available, but the Yankees are still in need of pitching. What’s going to happen?

They could either sign low-risk and high-reward guys like they did with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia last year, or they can trade for someone more suitable for the top of the rotation. Neither of these ideas is too appealing to me.

Or, the Yankees can do nothing.

To my surprise, I support the latter option.

Yu Darvish was kind of like a checkpoint for me: if they signed him, great, I’m beyond satisfied. I would have known that their earlier inactivity was because they were focused on him. To me, he was the deal of the offseason. Since he’s not coming to the Yankees and there’s no one else to sign, I don’t want anyone. I don’t want to trade just to trade. The rookies gave me hope last year, and the more time passes, the more the prospects are getting more ready to play in the Bigs. I want them to do so as Yankees. I don’t want them to be traded away. And like I said before: sure, trading is perhaps less risky than signing Darvish, because you’d be trading for someone who had success in this league. But success in the Majors does not by any means guarantee success on the New York Yankees. I’ve seen countless good players come to New York and underperform beyond belief. In this case, I don’t think trading for a guy is any better than letting the rookies pitch. They have the same upside – but the cost is way different.

Trading for a starting pitcher wouldn’t guarantee a championship anyways, and trading away the prospects that I’ve been dying to see wouldn’t make me any more excited. Since Darvish is out of the picture now, I want the Yankees to try out their prospects. Keep Jesus Montero, and Manny Banuelos, and let’s finally see what these guys, and other guys of their caliber who we’ve heard so much about, can actually do. Sure, they definitely don’t guarantee a championship. But watching them would create a heck of a lot more excitement than any trade can do for me.

Cashman, since you’ve decided to do nothing so far, is it a lot to ask from you to do nothing for the remainder of the offseason?

Sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make that help you out the most…

Haley Smilow: Future Yankees Journalist

3 more weeks of this semester and then I’m free for a month. Forgive me for not posting regularly! As some of you might know, I take my studies very seriously, and I’m doing so even more now that I have motivation to keep my scholarship! I admit it: I’m a nerd. But I have all A’s so I don’t care!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with their families and friends. I know I did. There’s nothing better than a week off when everyone is home and you have time to catch up on things. The rest of your life just kind of disappears for a while. And not to mention, everyone loves all that yummy food.

It’s this time of year where we all sit back and marvel at what we have in our lives. I’m incredibly grateful for my family and friends. But I’m also thankful for the New York Yankees (who are like family to me) and my blog, and the opportunities that it brings me. Every time I log in, I never know what I’m going to find. I love receiving reader feedback, but I think the thing I’m most thankful for with my blog is the people that I meet and the connections that I make. They can be very inspiring.

I recently had one of these experiences, and I’m honored to be part of it.

Haley Smilow is ten years old, and although young, she is quite the Yankees fan. In fact, she has already lived one of my dreams: to interview a Yankee.  This past August, Haley and her family followed the Yankee schedule and attended the away games.  And in July, she was able to interview one of my favorite Yankees, the adorable All-Star and should-have-been MVP outfielder Curtis Granderson. Her interview was even published in Baseball Youth Magazine.

 

I was asked if I would be willing to share Haley’s interview on my blog. Hmm…let me think: would I be willing to post an interview by a ten year old girl who is a huge Yankees fan, who from what I know reminds me of a mini-me, who interviewed one of my favorite Yankees, and who is an aspiring journalist?

ABSOLUTELY!

Now I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed the interview. Haley asked the kinds of questions that real fans want to know. I learned a lot about Curtis through this interview. Sure, she talked baseball, but she also helped me discover fun facts about Curtis, such as how he likes his pizza and who his favorite wrestler is.

 

 

I now present Haley Smilow’s interview with Curtis Granderson. Enjoy!

 

Haley: In August my family is following the Yankees to US Cellular Field, Kauffman Stadium, Target Field and Camden Yards with stops at Miller Park, Wrigley and Busch Stadium.  Do you have a favorite ballpark, and why? Is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well other than Yankee Stadium?

Curtis:I like the Anaheim Angels Stadium because it has good weather to play in and the playing surface is well taken care of, making it a nice place to play ball.  I also enjoy the Rally Monkey because he is fun to watch, but as a player it means that the Angels are doing well.  Other stadiums that I like to play in are Mariners Safeco Field and of course at home in Chicago at US Cellular Field and Wrigley.

 

Haley: Since I am going to be in Chicago, who has the best Pizza in Chicago?  Who in New York? Do you like Deep Dish or Thin Crust Pizza?

Curtis: My favorite Pizzerias in Chicago are Lou Malnali’s, Giordanos and Gino’s and in New York Artichoke Basille’s.  Sometimes I like Dominos thin crust pizza, because I like my crust crunchy.  If I am really hungry I will order deep dish.

 

Haley: Coney Island Hot Dogs or Nathan’s Hot Dogs?

Curtis: Since I played in Detroit I would have to say Coney Island Hot Dogs.

 

Haley: What is your favorite meal?

Curtis: I really love Thanksgiving dinner because you get to eat a little bit of everything and you can go back over and over for more helpings.

 

Haley: My little brother is a fan of WWE, I heard you are as well. Who are some of you favorite wrestlers of today?

Curtis: Of course I like CM Punk because he is a great wrestler and from Chicago. John Cena is another favorite. I also like the Divas because they work hard and are as good as the guys.

Haley: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Curtis: I have an older half sister, Monica. 

 

Haley: In your book All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It, you share the lessons that you learned growing up. What is one lesson you would tell the Baseball Youth readers if they haven’t read the book?

Curtis: The selection of friends, good and bad, positive or negative and the people you surround yourself with, will shape your whole life. 

 

Haley: I also know you are an ambassador for MLB and have traveled to England, Italy, South Africa, China, and New Zealand. Is there any place you would really like to go and represent MLB?

Curtis: I have never been to South America so that would be amazing.  I would also like to go to Japan and Australia, those would be on my top 3 list.

 

Haley: Why did you choose the #28 in Detroit and #14 in New York?

Curtis: I was given the #28 in college, which was great because the numbers 2 and 8 are my favorite numbers, so it was both of them together.  When I became a Yankee Joe Girardi was #28 so I chose #14 because that was my number from high school.

 

Haley: I get to go to a lot of Yankees games, and I have noticed that you have two rituals. Can you to explain them? When you step up to the plate you tap it with the bat from left to right then the top. Why?

Curtis: No particular reason, I guess it is just a habit.

Haley: When you are leading off from first and the pitcher makes a move, you always walk around first base same way every time. Why?

Curtis: Because I don’t want to get picked off or called out.

 

Haley: Do you have any other rituals or superstions?

Curtis: I only chew sugar free bubble gum.

Curtis asked Haley: Do you like gum?” Make sure you take a hand full when you leave the dug out.

 

Haley: What is it like in the Dug Out before and after a game?

Curtis: It is a fun place filled with energy and lots of handshakes. We are always meeting people before games.  After the game it depends if we won or lost.  If we win everyone is happy and celebrating and if we lost we need to move on to the next game.

 

Haley: When you are on the road do you share rooms with your teammates?

CurtisIn the majors we get our own rooms.  In the minors we share rooms, I used to share with Ryan Raburn, Joel Zumaya and David Espinosa.

 

Haley: AJ Burnett has created a celebration for a walk off win, a pie in the face.  Have you ever gotten pied?

Curtis: No, I have not been pied.  If I get pied it means we won but I am afraid it will burn.  

 

Haley: Who is the biggest practical joker you have ever been on a team with? Have you ever been the victim of a practical joke?

Curtis: Brandon Inge on the Tigers will do funny pranks, silly ones and even some gross ones.  We had a little battle going when I played for Detroit.  Once I opened his car and filled it with paper and construction tape making it a big mess inside the car and out.  Jorge Posada is a real joker as well.

 

Haley: In 2007 you became just one of four players in MLB history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs & 20 stolen bases in a single season, what are some of your other accomplishments you are proud of?

Curtis: Graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago, and that I am 1 of only 37 players with college degrees.  Making it to the 2006 World Series.

 

Haley: Do you have any other favorite sports besides baseball?

Curtis: I like basketball, especially college ball. I also like hockey, football and bowling and I used to run cross-country.

Haley: What’s your favorite team?

Curtis: The Kansas City Jay Hawks.

 

Haley: Who would you consider your closest friends on the Yankees?

Curtis: Of course I have special bond with my fellow outfielders Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  But I also like to hang out with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Russell Martin we go out to dinner and movies together. 

 

From this interview, I learned some important things: Curtis Granderson is as darling in real life as he seems on TV, and he and I have the same taste in wrestlers!

Not to mention, I learned that young female Yankees fans are extremely ambitious, talented, and extraordinary individuals.

I’ve been inspired by Haley, and I wish her and the Smilow family the best. I hope to share more of her work on here in the future.

 

 

Haley Smilow Social Networking Links:

http://www.wix.com/smilow/home-field-advantage

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Home-Field-Advantage/108037172615547

 

The Offseason Is On! Thoughts on the Hefty-Lefty

The World Series has been over for awhile now, and I’d like to express my congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. They had the most heart out of any team I’ve seen in awhile. I said that if my Yankees couldn’t win, I’d be pulling for them, and I’m glad they took the title home. I hope the Cardinals can keep Albert Pujols. As much as I love the guy, I don’t want the Yankees to get him, and they have no need for him, so I don’t even know why I’m mentioning this. The Yankees still have a lot on this year’s offseason agenda, and a bat and price like Albert Pujols, or Prince Fielder for that matter, is not on the list.

So now that baseball is officially over and I don’t have to deal with the pain of other teams playing while my team is not, I’m feeling a little bit better. The offseason can be pretty exciting, at least through the holidays. I think this offseason will be more rewarding for Yankees fans than last season’s was, because the already crossed off the big #1 on their list: bringing back their ace, CC Sabathia.

I had mixed feelings about the CC Sabathia situation. Now I love my Chubby Chunk, but I feared that this lefty was getting a bit too hefty. I remember how he lost about 25 pounds last offseason, and progressively gained it all back by the time the season ended. To me, that’s a sign of laziness. An athlete of Sabathia’s caliber (and price) should be doing whatever possible to maintain tip-top shape, and stuffing your face with Cap’n Crunch isn’t acceptable.

At first I was unsure to whether or not I even wanted Sabathia- he has been one of the best aces in the bigs and has worked a tremendous amount of innings – but even so, I felt his weight gain and lack of success at the end of last season was worthy of concern. Since the Yankees have an excessive amount of long term contracts, some of which I don’t want (ahem, A-ROD), and CC was starting to get on my nerves and I thought he would want a huge contract, I felt that maybe it was better for the Yankees to just let him walk.

But then I wondered: what would the Yankees do without CC? Was it really worth it to let him go, just because we didn’t want those extra few years, and to not have the rest of the prime years? On the other hand, were the prime years worth the giant contract?

Luckily, I didn’t have to worry after all. The Yankees gave me the best of both worlds: an extended contract, but not too huge.

Instead of the 4 year/$92 million he had left on his original deal, CC now has a 5 year/$117 million deal with an option for a sixth year. I recently said that I don’t want any more contracts greater than 5 years, so this deal made me happy. I feel that long term contracts create laziness, just like with many teachers I’ve had who have tenure: their jobs and money are guaranteed, and in the case of these big money guys, it’s hard to move them, so they kind of have a free pass. But this deal is just the right length. Hopefully, Sabathia will come into camp in solid shape at the start of the 2012 season.

Another huge priority has been crossed off the offseason to-do list for my Yankees, and that was bringing back Brian Cashman, one of the architects of the organization. He’ll be back for another three years at least, meaning that he’ll be around to craft #28.

Let’s make it 28 in 2012 my boys!

106 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Grieving of a Yankees Fan

It’s been quite some time since my last post, and of course school is partially to blame for that. The big reason is because I’ve been mourning – mourning the end of the 2011 season. Every year you don’t win the World Series, it ends this way: losing. It happens more often than not, though the Yankees were lucky enough to come out on top more than any other franchise. If it occurs more than it does not, then why am I taking it so hard this season?

I’ve been contemplating this since October 6, and still I am empty handed.

As I’ve said throughout the entire 2011 season, nobody really expected the Yankees to win it all this season. There were too many question marks. And I remember trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if they lost. I thought I had myself fooled.

I was wrong.

I think it hurts so much this year because my Yankees were the underdogs. People didn’t have high expectations, and the Yankees surprised them. This season was so magical, and I hoped the magic would continue and carry them to #28. It didn’t happen, and I still can’t believe that it is over. In that ALDS game 5, they came so close. I’d rather they had been blown out.

It’s tough knowing that baseball is going on without the Yankees in the mix of it. To me, the offseason starts when the Yankees are done. I know this postseason has been exciting, but it really doesn’t do anything for me.There’s no emotional attachment to any other teams, to any other players, so I don’t feel personally involved. Sure, I’m picking the Cardinals to win because they were my NL choice (I hoped for Yankees vs. Cardinals World Series) when they made it into the playoffs, but to think I’m going to sit down and watchthis Rangers vs. Cardinals World Series with enthusiasm? It’s just not going to happen.

Though it’s not easy, things are getting a little better with time. That loss is becoming farther and farther behind. Every once in awhile, I have a bad day, and the same questions and hypotheticals bombard my mind: “Why couldn’t Jesus Montero play?” “If only Jeter’s long fly in the 8thof game 5 went over the wall…”

If only…

I’m hoping that once the playoffs are over and the holidays are getting closer, I won’t be thinking as much about baseball and my grieving will be over. I’m just wondering how much is left. Here’s what I’ve been through so far:

1) Denial

Even though I knew that game 5 meant being on the brink of elimination, I never really thought the Yankees would lose. They were at home, they had rookie sensation Ivan Nova on the mound, and they were coming off an incredible victory that was courtesy of A.J. Burnett’s step-up performance. It just didn’t seem possible that it would end right there. I was thinking about the ALCS, and the fact that Jesus Montero would get playing time because the Rangers have so much left handed pitching, which he kills. Even when the Yankees were behind, Ithought they’d come back. Joe Girardi managed to keep the opposing offense off balance for most of the night by piecing together the innings with different pitchers, and I thought they were destined to win. When they were down in the 9th with Granderson, Cano, and Rodriguez due up, I was thinking about a walkoff pie. Thoughts of failing were quickly brushed away, and when it happened, I entered stage two.

2) Shock

Alex Rodriguez’s pathetic strikeout ended the season for my Yankees. All of a sudden, I was taken back to one year ago, where I was sitting downstairs with my brother while we were semi-watching Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS against the Rangers. A-Rod stood there looking as the called third strike sailed by, sending the stadium into a celebratory frenzy. I didn’t know how to react, so I threw my shoe at the TV and stormed upstairs. 2011 was a little different. After A-Rod struck out, I really didn’t know what to do. I stood there in disbelief and wondered if what I was seeing really happened, thinking, “There has to be another inning, right? It’s not over.”

It was.

I pleaded to myself, “NO! This isn’t right.” It began to sink in that the season was over, that the Yankees lost, and that I wouldn’t see them for a long time. My emotions then began to boil over.

3) Anger

Once I realized it was all real, I was livid. I tried to find something, someone to blame. The barrage of cursing made my brothers laugh a little, but I was in no mood for laughter. I thought of perhaps just going to bed, but I knew I was too pissed to sleep. I logged in to facebook, where I chatted with a friend who too was experiencing the same stage of the grieving process. Then the angry statuses emerged from myself and many Yankees fans. Mine was directed at A-Rod, and let’s just say it wasn’t very ladylike. But who can maintain their composure in a time like this?

4) Sorrow

This is by far the hardest stage to deal with, and the one that reemerges randomly. When I finally decided to go to bed after venting on facebook for a few hours, I cried a little. The fact that it was October and I wouldn’t be able to watch a real game until April was too much to bear. That’s a long time. Past the holidays, past winter, and well into my second semester. It seems that it will never come. I wore my Brett Gardner jersey to school the next day anyway, because he was one of the only guys who actually performed well in the postseason. Some kids scowled at me, saying, “Why are you wearing that today? They lost.” Obviously I didn’t need to be reminded. Randomly on that Friday I felt the tears well up. I went to the lounge where my friend, my fellow facebook venter, and I sat in remorse. I told him I had cried a bit, and then almost started to right there before I pulled myself together. He was just as devastated, and we talked about the “if onlys” of that fateful game 5. We were mad, but by this time the sorrow had definitely taken precedence. My friend rolled up his sleeve and rubbed his Yankees tattoo, and said, “Always and forever.”

5) Hopefulness

Although I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did, it was helpful for me to know I was not mourning alone. Discussing sorrows with another who knows what you are feeling is a healthy way to keep moving forward. He was right: “Always and forever.” No matter what, we Yankees fans will remain fans. After a while, I began to think about what I thought all season: that if the Yankees didn’t make it, I wouldn’t be too disappointed, because it was a surprise that they even made it that far anyways. And my friend had a point that for some reason comforted me. He said that just because they lost didn’t mean they weren’t the best team. All throughout the season, the Yankees have lost a series here and a series there. They just so happened to lose when it counted most. They still put together an amazing season as AL East champs with the best record in the AL. How can you argue with that? Especially when the Phillies were knocked out when everyone thought they would win it all? He’s right. The postseason is a crapshoot. It didn’t go our way this time, but maybe next season it will.

I’d like to take this time to thank my boys:

Yankees, I know you have been eliminated for almost two weeks now, so hopefully you are getting over it as I am. I just want to thank you once again for an amazing season. It seems that with each new season, I feel even more excited and intense. Though time for blogging is scarce, I make sure to watch you every night. You guys are such a part of my routine and my life, that I don’t know what to do without you. That is why the offseason is so hard. I don’t want you to misunderstand: I’m not upset because you lost. I’m upset because it’s over and other baseball is still going on. The farther you guys go, the quicker I get to welcome you into my home again. I hate not seeing you more than anything. You guys are family to me since you are always in mylife. And as each season gets more intense for me, each offseason gets harder. I want you to know that I am extremely proud of what you have accomplished this season. You have exceeded my expectations and have blown my mind.

Congrats on yet another incredible season, Yanks. It didn’t end the way I wanted, but we’ve got a whole lot to smile over. The future is looking mighty bright, my boys.

I’ve got April 6th circled on my calendar.

Yankees, rest up, relax, but stay in shape. Enjoy the offseason and the holidays, and come back to me driven and ready to start the Chase for 28.

I know I’ll be ready.

Still In Disbelief

The last time I posted was September 6th. Although I haven’t been active with the blog, I have remained active in watching baseball. I’ve come to the conclusion that 2011 has been the single-most surprising season that I have ever watched – and that I might EVER see. I still can’t believe that anything I’ve seen in the past month has actually happened.

So remember way back when I said I’d still have time to blog and that the college workload didn’t kick in yet? Well, it kicked in. Big time. Commuting is tough. But I’m glad I don’t live at my school, because they don’t have the YES Network! I wouldn’t be able to survive. Although now, the games are nationally broadcast because IT’S THE POSTSEASON! DAHH! How did this happen?

Last time I posted, the Yankees had a slim but solid 2.5 game lead over the Red Sox, who possessed a seemingly-insurmountable 7 game lead over the Rays in the Wild Card. I’m sure any conscious baseball fan is aware of what happened next: that Red Sox lead began to dwindle, while the Yankees and Rays kept on climbing.

Although I witnessed it all happening, I never really processed it, and I still can’t wrap my mind around it. What happened? The Yankees finished with the best record in the AL. Now I love my boys, but that stat surprises me. The Yankees are the best team in the American League, with all the question marks they have? The Rays made it in to the postseason on the last day of the regular season despite trailing all year long? And the Red Sox – the anointed World Champions – went 7-20 in this past month, failing to even make it into the playoffs? And their pitching had a 7 – something ERA over that stretch? And the Yankees pitching was good? It shouldn’t be a surprise. The Yankee pitching was beyond “good” all season long. But for them to have held up, and the Sox to have fallen…it’s incredible. Only in this game will something like this ever happen.

It still pains me that I missed blogging about so many things that happened in this month. In the spare amounts of time I had to write a blog, I had to do it for my PHILOSOPHY class…yeah. Blogging for class. The “class participation and engagement blog.” 10 percent of my grade for that class. And considering that philosophy isn’t easy (How do we know we exist? What? I’m right here!), I have to do well on that part.

As always, the season ends too quickly. I enjoyed the last week of regular season play, in which my Yankees took things easy, rested, and contributed to the Red Sox collapse. It’s fun not worrying whether they win or lose. But after awhile, both they and I begin to itch for that intensity…

So here’s the postseason. ALDS. Yankees vs. Tigers. Set to start on a Friday. I was excited. This week was long and strenuous, and I wanted to come home and relax in front of my boys. But actually, there was no way that was going to happen. I probably would have fallen asleep, despite the adrenaline of the postseason. Already being exhausted, and then exerting so much energy watching the game…don’t think I would have made it through last night. Nevertheless, I was still annoyed when the game was postponed in the 2nd inning. But maybe it’s for the best…maybe the Yankees and I will be more ready for the resumed game tonight. Sure, CC’s not pitching, but neither is Verlander. It’s gonna be a good matchup tonight.

I just want to say a few things to my Yanks: Yankees, I want to thank you for an amazing season. I know it’s not over yet, and I know you will play to your fullest potential to reach your goal. I honestly never expected this much from you this year. Best record in AL? Despite everything? I’m still in disbelief. I never thought you’d be where you are right now. But since you are here, I want you to win. You have shown me what it means to be strong, to fight the odds, and to play like a real team should (as opposed to the Red Sox who sit around and get drunk during games). I love you. I’m still processing everything that’s happened this year. I do believe you can win, though when I think about it, I don’t know how. On paper, surely, you are not the best team.

But paper can’t measure heart.

Good luck in this Chase for 28. I’ll be watching.

GO YANKEES!

Jesus Is Just Alright With Me!

That was a Byrds reference in case anyone cares.

But that’s beside the point. Point is, Jesus Montero is a friggin beast. And I’m still in disbelief about everything.

Jesus Montero has given me so much hope since I heard about him what seems like many years ago. Way back at the beginning of the season, when everyone was counting the Yankees out and saying there was no possible way they could win, because the Red Sox were so amazing, I thought to myself, “That’s okay, I don’t have to win every year. We Yankees fans still have a lot to look forward to. If I get the chance to see Montero play this year, no matter what, I will consider this season worthwhile.”

God. I mean Jesus…

IT’S THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!

Currently, the Yankees have a 2.5 lead over those anointed champion Red Sox, which is relatively roomy considering how tight this division has been all season long. They have had possession of first and lost it many times this season…but with every game that passes, there is less and less time for the standings to change.

Not only are the Yankees winning – but now Montero is part of it! And I truly believe he is the real-deal.

Jesus Montero stole the show yesterday by hitting his first 2 homers in the Bigs. They were both of the opposite field variety, and they both earned him curtain-calls. I found that somewhat surprising, and also a little relieving. I thought maaaybee I was the only one who was so excited about the kid, and when he didn’t get a hit in his first game, I thought maaaybee my excitement was silly, but then when he had that huge game yesterday, all the fans embraced him, so now I don’t feel stupid for being his biggest fan already.

I’m tempted to go buy myself a “Montero #63″ Yankees jersey, but I think his number might change soon. He’s too good to be #63 for much longer. But I’ve learned the hard way about those player jerseys…all of mine are out-of-date: I have Cano as #22, Melky Cabrera as #28 (lol), and Francisco Cervelli as #29. I had a Gary Sheffield #11 jersey, but my Grandma took off the lettering, so now it’s a #11 shirt WITHOUT a name. Ohh yeah.

But yeah, back to that Jesus Montero guy….okay not gonna lie, I really like him. And those of you that know me know what that means. He’s only 21….I’m 18, there’s hope. He’s soooo adorable.

Fangirl commentary needs to be put on hold…I’m sorry.

So yeah, Jesus Montero. In all seriousness, Jesus Montero, in the short time he has been with the team, has made me so happy. He has given me that desire to watch games again with that intensity that I can’t even describe. He’s helping us now, and I’m confident that he’ll be here for the future. If Brian Cashman didn’t move him yet – and he has had his fair share of golden opportunities to do so – I don’t think he’ll move him now. Not when he gave us a glimpse of why he was meant to be a Yankee. His swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium. That short porch in right was BUILT for him. The fans already adore the kid, hence the curtain calls. And hey, I know it’s a small sample, but he’s hitting .385 and has shown awesome power. Every once in a while, a player really does live up to his expectations. Can Montero be one of those guys?

I definitely think so.

I hope the Yankees continue to keep on plugging him into the lineup. Jesus Montero in the BOTTOM THIRD of the lineup? That’s quite a force. They should use him every day, because after all: they have to win, and they have to put their best guys out there. Right now, I think Jesus Montero is a better designated hitter than Jorge Posada.

Even if he struggles, I say pencil him in there. Sure, he may worry about slumping, he may lose a little confidence – who cares about him losing trade value, he’s here to stay in my mind. Bottom line, Jesus Montero has spent 2 seasons in Triple-A. He can hit. The defense will come. Too much hope and excitement has been invested in the guy. The Yankees owe it to the fans to use him.

I can’ t wait to come home and watch the game tonight – and I hope Jesus Montero is playing.

GO YANKEES!

My First Blog From Marist!

Things have been pretty crazy since the last time I posted, both for me and the Yankees. The Yankees have gone 6-6 since my last post, losing their position atop the AL East in the process. They had some really good games, and some games where they were so bad that I didn’t even think they were my Yankees.

The most exciting game during this stretch was definitely last Thursday’s series finale against the Athletics, in which my Yankees made baseball history: the first team to have three players hit grand slams in one game. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin, and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees scored 22 runs that game – a historic offensive explosion I will surely remember.

Yankee fans, like myself, were so caught up in the excitement of that game that we may have forgotten: the Yankees still lost that series against the A’s. They dropped 2 of 3 at home against a stinky team that can’t hit to save its life. This was a stretch of games I thought the Yankees would coast through: 3 against those A’s, and 5 against the last place Baltimore Orioles. They lost the A’s series and split 4 against the O’s (thanks to Hurricane Irene, one game was left out).

Speaking of Hurricane Irene, she’s a b!tch. She screwed up my start of college. Marist College was holding Welcome Week this past weekend, but because of the storm, Sunday’s activities were cancelled. Which meant that Sunday move-in was cancelled. Which means it was moved to Monday. And that meant classes were cancelled Monday. So I’m sitting home in a blackout, just itching to just get started. No. Make the anxious/excited/nervous kid suffer that much more.

Today (Tuesday) everything worked out. My first day of classes, my first day in COLLEGE! The 40 minute drive to Marist might soon get old, but oh well. I sit here now, typing up this post, from the awesomely huge and amazing library at Marist. I’ve been here since 8am, and my next class is at 5pm. Quite a large gap. In high school, I remember not having enough time to do anything…now I sit here with all the time I could ever hope for (I’m sure that will change once I start getting assignments).

Due to the Hurricane, the blackout, and my preoccupation with school, I kind of haven’t really been following the Yankees as much as I would have liked to lately. Time sure flew. When I looked at the Yankees schedule a few minutes ago, I noticed they start a three game series against the Red Sox tonight. At Fenway. Ohhhh boy…here we go again.

The Commuter Leader here at Marist made it a point in his introductory speech to tell us that he hates the Red Sox, which totally made my day. Colin, you are already awesome!

Honestly, I’m really not thaaaaaat confident about this series against the Sox. I hate Fenway Park and I know the Red Sox steal signs. I’m annoyed at the pitching matchups: we have CC going in game 1, and he really needs to prove to me that he can pitch against this team without stinking. Game 2 is Phil Hughes, who, despite a few good starts after coming off the DL, still sucks to me. And game 3 is the always insane A.J. Burnett. The only reason I bother watching the games he pitches in is because there is always a chance he will get so mad that he’ll turn around and punch Joe Girardi.

I hope I don’t see that. But if it happened on live TV, I wouldn’t want to miss it.

The Yankees haven’t exactly been playing their best baseball of late…and I don’t really think NOW is the time to go to Fenway. I thought they’d be hot now, coming off games against bad teams, but they really aren’t.

Hopefully last night’s 3-2 win gives the Yankees the momentum they need to go out there and WIN. And hopefully Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup tonight.

I want a good game. I’m going to get home at 7, and I know I’ll be exhausted. I don’t even know if I’ll have the energy to go through a Yankees-Red Sox game – they are very draining.

Oh well. I can’t believe how fast this season has gone. And my summer…but my Dad said to enjoy these next 4 years, because they too will fly by.

GO YANKEES!

A Special Gift

So yesterday was my birthday…the big 18. I had already received an amazing surprise, which was the Yankee game I went to last Thursday. I had a lovely day and a nice weekend with my family, who always make my day special. Was it selfish to wish for one more thing?

Maybe, but I was entitled to a wish when I blew out the candles.

Now I know it’s bad luck to say what you wished for or whatever, so I’ll just give a little hint:

Ohh yeah.

I don’t know if I should go crazy bragging like I did last time the Yanks sat atop the division, but you know…obviously it’s nice. And they did it just for me. A friend wrote on my facebook for my birthday that it’d be nice if the Yankees could move into first place just for me. And they did.

Thanks boys! I hope you can stay there.

So my birthday was fun…it’s weird being LEGAL haha. It’s one of those special ages.

The Yankees have a guy reaching one of those special ages, too.

Happy 40th birthday, Jorge!

This season has been tough for Jo-Po, and tougher for me to watch. I still think his struggles were because he just couldn’t accept the DH role. He was used to being involved in every single play. Then he found himself sitting on the bench, when he knew he could still catch. It’s sad when guys like Jorge get pushed aside. He’s not the player he used to be, and watching a legend (in my eyes) decline is never easy.

But on Saturday, this old guy showed why we love him so much. He knocked in 6 runs, 4 via a grand slam, and he looked genuinely happy doing so.

Jorge, I hope tonight is a good one for you. I hope the team does for you what they did for me – win – and that you are a part of it.

LOVE YOU, JORGE!

Thanks again, Yanks. Keep up the good baseball! 3 wins in a row, let’s make it 4 tonight!

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