Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Success to Stay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GO YANKEES!

Subway Series Spark!

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

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

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

Surely, I feel like an idiot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just hope we can carry this forward.

Go Yankees!

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.

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.

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!

Yankees vs. Angels: Sec 201, Row 2, Seat 7

A Day I’ll Never Forget

I finally made it back out to Yankee Stadium! I saw my first game this year last Thursday, August 11. It was the rubber game of the series against the Angels. The Halos won the first, the Yanks won the second. I knew it was going to be a good game, and and all-around good day. But I didn’t think it’d be THIS good.

Some of you might know that aside from my blog here at MLBlogs, I write for the FanVsFan Network at my site Pinstripe Partisan. I love that site for a number of reasons, one of the main reasons being that the people who work there are amazing. One of the leaders of the site himself is a Yankees fan and a native New Yorker, and he was generous enough to give me not one, but TWO free tickets to this Yankees game. So not only did I have the time of my life, but I was able to experience the day with my older brother, who had not yet been to the new Yankee Stadium.

But he didn’t just give me tickets. He gave me tickets, that for me, were perfect. When I found out where they were, I couldn’t wait to go.

My brother and I took the train down to the Stadium. Bobby is just as much of a Yanks fan as I am, and he was dying to see the new Stadium. When he first caught a glimpse of it as we were walking towards it, he was in awe – so much that he called home and told my Mom: “Ahh, Mommy! It’s so beautiful, you have no idea…” While on the phone, he turned to me and demanded that I take a picture.

We got the the Stadium 2 hours before the game was scheduled to start. Our plan was to go to our seats as soon as possible and watch batting practice and possibly get autographs. When we got to our section, Bobby reminded me:

“Virginia, please don’t embarrass me.”

Why so concerned?

Our seats were two rows behind the Yankee bullpen. And it was a day game. After a night game. Which meant that some players would be resting. Which meant that some backups would be playing.

WHICH MEANT THAT I HAD A CHANCE TO BE TWO ROWS AWAY FROM FRANCISCO CERVELLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can see now why he was worried about me.

The first Yankees we saw up-close-and-personal from our perch atop the bullpen wall was Freddy Garcia. He was getting some throwing in. Then Mike Harkey, the coolest bullpen coach ever, entered, and my brother and I (then the only people at the wall) yelled out, “Hi Hark!” AND HE WAVED!!! I thought my day was made. Oh, but there was more to come.

I was watching the hitters take BP, waiting for Cervelli to be done so he could come into the bullpen. BP was long, so my brother and I left for awhile to look around the Stadium, whose beauty was mesmerizing. When we got back to our seats, the wait wasn’t very long. Bobby pointed to a sexy looking man approaching from the dugout. I started to freak out.

“Virginia, you’re doing it.” he warned.

I managed to not explode. I let Francisco Cervelli approach. I captured his warm-up routine with about 50 pictures. Here are some personal favorites:

Before I knew it, he entered the bullpen. I was wearing my “Cervelli 29″ shirt I bought last year at the Stadium. It was crowded at the bullpen wall now, but I figured, “It’s now or never.” And I was the only one in the ballpark that I knew of wearing his shirt. I was his ultimate fan. All these other idiots asking for his autograph didn’t really care about him. I didn’t want to harass him like the rest of them.

When he got close enough, I just yelled out, “Hey Francisco!!!! I’m wearing your shirt!”

Now I don’t know if he heard me, or if he saw the shirt when I turned around to show him. All I know, is that he waved at me, and I almost died. I’m lucky that I didn’t fall into the bullpen and die. I really am.

FRANCISCO CERVELLI WAVED TO ME. Holy Jesus. My life was then complete.

So he did more warm-ups, then when he exited the ‘pen, he waved again at us! Such a sweetie.

Oh yeah, then the GAME started. That was fun.

Bartolo Colon pitched a good game for the Yankees. I thought I was going to see Nova, but he pitched the night before. So when I heard it was Colon, I was happy. He was our first choice for a starter to see live!

The game was quiet at first, with no teams scoring through the first 4 innings. In the 5th, the Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead on an Alberto Callaspo 2-run homer. That upset the sellout crowd, but they soon began to cheer when the fan who caught the ball threw it back.

In the bottom of the 6th, my cutie Curtis Granderson decided to give us something to smile about for real. After a Derek Jeter single, my GrandyMan homered to tie the game at 2! Then the next time the Yanks were on offense, big things happened, thanks to Mr. Robbie Cano. The bases were loaded after an Angel error, and Cano made them pay.

GRAND SLAM! Seeing that live was amazing. The ball jumped off Cano’s bat like I’ve seen no other. It got out of the park in a hurry, and Yankees fans went crazy. 6-2 lead!

*Note: Francisco Cervelli walked in that inning, and for some reason, Girardi called for Russell Martin to pinch run for him? I didn’t know why he did that. My Grandma said it was because a female fan was harassing Cervelli, and he couldn’t take it….wasn’t me!

Cory Wade made things messy in the 9th, so Mariano Rivera had to come in. Always a pleasure seeing him make his way to the mound.

We were all aware of Mo’s mishaps on the mound that week. We didn’t want to witness another one. And when Russell Branyan pinch hit, we were a little nervous. With 2 men on, Branyan homered…yikes. All of a sudden it was 6-5. I thought maybe that was all Mariano would allow.

Thank God I was right. We couldn’t afford to stick around for more innings – we had a train to catch! Luckily, Mo settled down and finished up the game. YANKEES WIN 6-5!

My brother didn’t want to leave. Once we got home, he said, “We need to go back.” He then proceeded into his room, and began looking up more Yankees tickets. I hope we can go again before college starts!

It was a day I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. How often can a girl say that her crush waved to her at close distance, and she didn’t die? I’m proud.

It was an amazing early 18th birthday present for me. My real birthday is tomorrow. I’ll enjoy my last day as a kid today.

Thanks again to Michael H. for that amazing day! You’re the best.

GO YANKEES!

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!

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!

Okay, Maybe I Spoke Too Soon…

Bullpen Fails in Heartbreaking 5-4 Loss

….or maybe JOE GIRARDI IS A MORON!!!

-Control yourself-

It’s too early in the season for this, and I have too much homework to not be doing, but I’m too frustrated so I need to vent.

Before I go completely insane, I should recap the game for those of you who were lucky enough to NOT see it. The first 7 innings were actually pretty entertaining. But from the 8th on, it was hard to watch.

CC Sabathia got the start last night in order to keep him on regular rest. My not-as-chunky-but-still-Hefty-Lefty tossed a fabulous game. He’s a God. Sabathia went 7 innings and allowed just 2 hits early in the ballgame.

Sabathia finished his night with a 4-0 lead, thanks to a 3-run BOMB by Teixeira and a solo welcome-to-the-Bronx home run from the smiley Andruw Jones. One of the highlights of my night last night was watching Andruw Jones try to catch a ball that ultimately went foul. The ball went directly into a fan’s meal, and sent it plummeting onto the field – right on Jones. It was amazing.

                                      0406jones.jpg

And of course after this, Jones never stopped smiling.

Anyways, Sabathia left the game having thrown 104 pitches. Not too many, but for this early in the season, it made sense to take him out.

But it didnt make any sense to me to put Rafael Soriano in. Note: I felt this way BEFORE he blew it.

First of all, Soriano has worked a respectable amound lately. Since the Yanks had a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead and the Twins bats were dead, I didn’t think there was a need to use the setup guy. He could have had the night off, and they could have started the 8th with David Robertson or someone. But no.

Another reason why I didn’t want Soriano in the game last night, is because it seems that whenever closers or guys with closer-like stuff and a closer-like mentality (Soriano) always SUCK when the team has a rather-large lead. Even the best guys, like Mariano Rivera, have experienced the non-save situation struggles. And when we all know that Girardi is a “master” at conserving and managing his bullpen guys, I just didn’t understand why in the world he decided to use Soriano last night, and why he let him suffer through that horrible inning.

Soriano wound up loading the bases with 1 out in the 8th. It was apparent after he faced the first batter that he had absolutely NO command, but Girardi didn’t do anything. Soriano walked in a run, and ultimately destroyed the Yankees’s chance of winning by giving away their 4-0 lead. Although he didn’t get the loss (they lost 5-4 in 10 innings), it was over after he blew it.

I don’t blame the bullpen for this loss. It’s not Rafael Soriano’s fault. He is an amazing pitcher when he’s doing his thing. But last night, he WASN’T doing his thing. He’s supposed to come in when the game is tight, not fold under the pressure, and get the guys out. Last night was not that situation, and I’m not mad at HIM for struggling…I’m just mad he struggled.

        Russell Martin (r.) approaches Rafael Soriano during an 8th inning jam. David Robertson replaces Soriano but surrenders a 3-run double to Delmon Young, which falls in front of Nick Swisher.

Joe Girardi is who I want to strangle. He said that if he could do it again, he’d to it the same way. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? I mean is it me? It makes sense if you saw the game…the Twin offense was completely dead. That 4-0 lead seemed like 100-0. There was no need to use Soriano last night. I still believe that the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball. This game doesn’t make me lose confidence in Soriano at all.

Joe Girardi…what are we going to do with you…

And tonight! I was already mad at Girardi tonight. He planned on sitting Derek Jeter, Russell Martin, AND Jorge Posada tonight. He wanted A-Rod to DH, and he was going to use Eduardo Nunez at short, Eric Chavez at third, and GUSTAVO MOLINA AND HIS SPRING BATTING AVERAGE OF .067 behind the plate. Wow. And with 5th starter Freddy Garcia on the mound. I mean really? Isn’t the idea, like, to win the game? Why would he sit half his team all in one game?

I don’t know…sometimes I think Girardi TRIES to lose. Some of his decisions are crazy.

Hey, Joe! Stop trying to lose! No need to throw games away…Maybe you’re trying to make things exciting and dramatic, trying to make the season come down to the wire, trying to keep Yankees fans on their feet.

NO NEED!

The AL East is hard enough, just let my Yanks do the drama on their own.

As much as I wanted to see the game tonight to try and get my mind off the horrible loss, I’m almost glad they didn’t play tonight. With that lineup, things didn’t look too good anyway. Now EVERYONE gets the night off.

I wonder what Joe Girardi’s going to do tomorrow…

  

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