Tuesday, April 29, 2008

State of the Yankees 4/29/08

Morning Yankee fans. Be sure to give Steveo's post below mine a read when you get a chance, that sure was a great day in Yankee history. So...the Yankees have been about average so far this season. And honestly, that's not too bad given the cold weather, the question marks in our rotation and bullpen, the injuries, and the insane April schedule. Coming out of that rough road stretch, the Yanks are sitting at 14-13, which puts them only a game out of first place.

So how is the Yankee lineup doing? Damon has turned it on, which is a great sign. Many thought he was done already, and he's kicking it on much earlier than he did last year to prove them wrong. Good for Damon, we really need our lead-off guy to get things clicking. He's raised his average up to .275, and leads the team in stolen bases (4), doubles (9), runs scored (18), and walks (16).

Jeter has cooled off a bit since his hot stint after his quad injury. In his last 7 games he's hitting only .226, but is still at .279 for the season. I'm not worried...Jeter is one of the most consistent guys in that lineup. I'm sure he'll be somewhere over .300 in time.

Abreu has also cooled off, hitting .214 in the last 7 games, but is still at .280 for the season. Abreu is also leading the team in hits (28) and RBIs (16). Overall he's off to a pretty good start, and that is key to A-Rod's success as well. Abreu is known for being a second half player, so if he can maintain .280 for the first half, I'll take that to his .263 average for the first half of 2007.

A-Rod has really slowed down...only hitting .154 in his last 7 games, but still at .286 for the season. He certainly has not even come close to last April's performance (not many people ever will). Lets hope he can pull out of his little slump. In last night's game A-Rod re-aggravated his quad strain again, and will likely sit out a few more games. How is it we can never start a season without a million injuries?

Oh Giambi...I am quite fed up with him. He's making far too much money to be hitting .167 on the season, especially when you factor in his lack of defense. In his defense, he has hit .300 over the last week, but he's still got a long way to go. He is also tied with Melky for the team lead in homers with 5.

Matsui has been the only truly consistent player so far this season, and he leads the team in batting average with .317, and has hit .294 over the last week. I think he is benefiting from being able to DH more often. Keep it up Matsui, we're really counting on you while we're waiting for the rest of the offense to click. He's also leading the team in on base percentage (.423).

Unfortunately, the Yankees got hit hard when we found out Posada would be heading to the DL for the first time in his career. It is unfortunate because Posada is, along with Jeter, one of the leaders of this team. Not to mention he's been hot this season, picking up where he left off in 2007. He's hitting a healthy .302 on the season, and .412 in his last 5 games with 5 RBIs in that stretch. We're still not sure how long he will be out for, but lets hope his shoulder problem isn't too serious. Good thing we have the best back up catcher ever in Jose Molina.

Ahh and now on of my favorite young players: Melky Cabrera. A lot of Yankee fans out there refuse to put much faith in Melky and wanted him traded. Well the Melk Man has responded by hitting .289 so far in 2008 (.308 in his last 7 games), and is showing some impressive power as he is tied with Giambi for the team lead in home runs at 5. Not to mention he's still only 23 years old, he switch hits, and has been playing some great defense out in center field. He's even been showing some good plate discipline with 10 walks so far.

Cano is still struggling mightily. He's hitting a meager .153 on the season so far. However, his fielding has still been excellent, and I think we all know this kid has enough talent to pull out of his funk soon. I stumbled across this article at another blog, and it is an interesting read. The guy is basically arguing that Cano's slow start is a product of the Yankees' schedule, cold weather, and bad luck. Check it out here.

Jose Molina, Morgan Ensberg, and Alberto Gonzalez have all done their jobs. Good thing Cashman got those guys for us...it turns out they've been pretty necessary components to this team. Here's an idea....get rid of Betemit. Ensberg is a better third basement than Betemit is, and Gonzalez is a better middle infielder than Betemit. We have Duncan, Giambi, an Ensberg who can play first, so what is Betemit's role again? I say we see if he can trade him away for a decent middle reliever who can eat innings and provide some security since we're not getting much depth out of about 60% of our rotation.

Thats it for now...next time I do this I'll take a closer look at pitchers. Take care everyone...go Yankees!

Monday, April 28, 2008

ALCS Game 7 2003: The Day the Bambino Returned Again

Hey Yankee fans. I had to write an Art/Sports paper for my expository writing class. Of course, I wrote about the Yankees. One of the best days of my life was being at the famous Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. I sat in the left-center bleachers with my pops, my brother, and my uncle. Here's the paper:

ALCS Game 7 2003: The Day the Bambino Returned Again

In the history of sports, no two teams have been as bitter rivals as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. New York and Boston have easily the most hardcore fans there are in sports, the kind of fans that live and die with their team. As the playoffs started in October of 2003, it was made obvious that the Yankees and Red Sox were destined to face off in what would shape up to be one of the best playoff series in baseball history. Both teams were unbelievably dominant baseball clubs that year, and the matchup was being predicted months in advance. We weren’t able to get our hands on tickets the day they went on sale, but were lucky enough to snag four seats to the “if necessary” Game Seven at Yankee Stadium. The day before that game, the Yankees and Sox had played a day game in the Bronx, which I watched with my brother. It was a close game, and interestingly enough, my brother rooted for the Yankees to lose so we could all go to the final game. I didn’t understand his logic immediately, so I game him a really hard time at first, and my mother had to step in to explain his logic. The Yankees lost the game; and the stage was set: we were going to Game Seven.

I went to the game with my father, my brother, and my uncle. We all met at my grandmother’s house in Queens, and took the subway into the stadium from Woodside, Queens, the last stop on the Long Island Railroad before Penn Station. My aunt and grandmother offered my brother and me dinner, but we had our hearts set on eating a bunch of hot dogs when we got to the stadium. Soon after we arrived, my father and uncle came. Before my dad and uncle came, my two cousins, who are also huge Yankee fans, gave my brother and me a Yankees troll to take to the game for good luck. They had brought it to the 2001 World Series games, which were massive comebacks, and have used it for luck ever since. After we all talked a bit, we left for the station. I couldn’t have been more excited. In 2001, I went to the first playoff game against the Oakland A’s, and sat in the bleachers with my father and my two close cousins. That game felt so electric because it my first playoff game, but it couldn’t possibly touch the electricity in the air of an October playoff matchup between the two toughest teams in the Major Leagues.

Arriving at Yankee Stadium by train never gets old. When arriving at the Yankee Stadium stop on the subway, you see a modern marvel of architecture. All the greats have played there, from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Cal Ripken Jr. Outside you see the white fa├žade, the many flags representing the other clubs, and the gigantic lights. Inside you see fifty six thousand blue seats, the bright green grass of the outfield, and the light brown dirt of the infield. There is, however something else when you are in the stadium. You see faces filled with smiles and excitement. This is a place where families have bonded since 1923. Friends have come to enjoy America’s pastime and bond with one another. Here you see true baseball fans. That night, we didn’t see any ordinary game of baseball. It was the baseball of legend: Yankees/Red Sox baseball.

For Game Seven, we had very similar bleacher (hard metal benches painted Yankee blue) seats to our seats for the A’s game from 2001. These seats are located out in left field behind Monument Park. They are over four hundred feet from home plate in left-center field. Monument Park has been a staple of Yankees Stadium for thirty-two years, since the renovated stadium opened up in 1976. The mini-museum showcases plaques of all the Yankees greats, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and many others. The Babe Ruth statue is one of the largest, and we got to see Roger Clemens (The Yankees’ starter for the game) come into the bullpen to rub the Babe’s forehead, which is his pre-game ritual.

The pitching matchup of the game was one of the best you could ask for: Roger Clemens versus Pedro Martinez, two of the best pitchers of the last twenty years. Unfortunately for us, the Sox jumped out to an early lead. Clemens was taken out of the game during the fourth inning, after giving up three runs. Mike Mussina, another Yankee starter, came in for relief of Clemens. He pitched through the sixth inning, not giving up any runs. After six innings, the Red Sox were winning 4-1. It wasn’t looking good for awhile, but for some unexplainable reason, I felt an air of confidence, that although it was getting late in the game, the Yankees would ultimately win. Jason Giambi, the Yankees’ first baseman, kept the Yanks in the game by hitting two solo home runs to right field, one in the fifth inning, and one in the sixth. Slowly but surely, the Yankees wore down Martinez, a pitcher who usually got knocked out of games early due to his one-hundred pitch limit, usually taking him through the sixth or seventh innings. The eighth inning was when the monumental Yankee comeback started. Pedro Martinez was still in, and gave up a double to Derek Jeter (The Yankees captain) with one out. The Jeter double was followed up by a Bernie Williams single to centerfield, which scored Jeter, making the score 5-3 Red Sox. During the increasing offensive onslaught by the Yankees, my brother and father shook the troll my cousins gave to us before each important at-bat, laughing at its positive effect. Next, Hideki Matsui doubled to right field, bringing catcher Jorge Posada to the plate with one out, and base runners on first and second. Posada doubled to center field, scoring both Williams and Matsui. That single at bat was the point of no return. There was absolutely no way the Yankees would lose the game after coming back against one of the best pitchers in baseball and tying the game.

The game stayed stagnant for a while, as the game went into extra innings. Pitchers came in, and were called back out by either Managers Joe Torre (Yankees) or Grady Little (Red Sox). Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ closer, and the best reliever in baseball history, came in during the ninth inning. This indicated to me that Joe Torre was going for the proverbial throat of the Red Sox. Teams don’t usually put the closer in when the game is tied, but circumstances being what they were, it was the obvious and right choice. Batters came up to the plate, and batters left. Rivera was dominant. To this day I have never seen a more dominant pitching performance. The scary parts of the game at that point were when the Sox’s great hitters: Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz came to the plate. Rivera ended up pitching three scoreless innings, into the eleventh inning. That was when Red Sox starting pitcher and knuckleballer Tim Wakefield came in the game to face Yankees’ third baseman Aaron Boone. A knuckleball is a pitch that isn’t thrown very fast, but breaks in such unpredictable vectors that it can really baffle hitters. This matchup would become legendary in a matter of minutes.

Wakefield’s first pitch could have stopped time. The first pitch to Boone was thrown, causing Boone to swing at a trajectory that I’d seen millions of times in my life. He swung upwards at a diagonal angle that if timed right could knock a baseball out of the park. Boone connected, and what a shot it was. I’m sure the hearts of many people around the country felt like mine did. It felt as though my heart stopped, but in reality it was probably beating uncontrollably. As Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling undoubtedly said, “It’s a shot deep to left! It is high! It is far! It is-gone! Game over! American League Championship Series over! The Yankees are going to the World Series! Yankees win! The Yankees win!” After Boone’s home run went over the left field wall, madness ensued in Yankee Stadium. I was jumping up and down on the bleacher bench, yelling, “We’re in the World Series! Oh my god, we’re in the World Series! Dad, we’re in the World Series!” We were all giving high fives to people we never met, it was such insanity. I lost my voice that night, and my hands were perpetually red from clapping much harder than any human being should ever clap. On the subway ride back to Woodside, people would approach us because of the Yankees hats and shirts we were wearing, saying what an incredible game it was.

The game was on a Thursday night, so the next day at school I got to brag to all my friends and schoolmates that I was at the best playoff game of all time. This game, to this day, is one of my favorite memories. I have been a Yankee fan as long as I can remember, and being there, witnessing a game on the caliber of those my father has seen, increased my love for the Yankees. The way the fans came together was something you had to witness firsthand to appreciate. I haven’t been able to go to a playoff game since, but hopefully this year will be different. Part of Yankees tradition is the way they win crucial games like this. This was one of those moments, and the spirit of the Bambino returned again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

State of the Yankees 4/17/08

Good morning Yankee fans. I apologize for the lack of updates...its that time of year, finals are right around the corner and for a few weeks life's pace quickens at an alarming rate. Instead of profiling individual games, as that proves to be rather tedious and time consuming, once a week or so I'll release my own State of the Yankees report. I promise to keep this a regular addition, so keep checking back!

The most notable performance over the last week has been the offense as a whole. Finally, the Yankees are beginning to look like the Yankees. I was getting worried that I might have to wait as long as we all had to last season. But, the combination of Jeter's return and normal baseball weather in Tampa seems to have sparked the powerhouse that is the Yankee lineup.

Most of the Yankee lineup has really caught fire...Cabrera, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Matsui, Posada, and even Chad Moeller have stepped up their game. Giambi and Cano continue to struggle, but it is only a matter of time until they turn it around...at least in Cano's case. I don't have a lot of confidence in Giambi.

The bullpen has seem some struggles, but I believe that it is in better shape than meets the eye. Despite a rough start, Hawkins has quietly put together a nice string of appearances, pitching 7 innings, with 4 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in his last 5 games. 5 innings of that 7 has come against the meat of the Boston lineup as well. Its nice to have a veteran in our bullpen besides Mo who DOESN'T give up a home run every time he pitches. I am also encouraged by performances by Ohlendorf, Bruney, and Traber. Bruney seems to be hitting his locations much better....attributed to Dave Eiland/Joe Girardi? I think so. Traber is showing his potential as a lefty specialist. Last night he came in to face Ortiz in a close game, and got him to pop up to the catcher in foul territory. Looks like we found the new and improved Mike Myers.

The rotation seems to be where we are struggling the most currently, although it is not awful. Wang was utterly dominant in his first 3 starts, but was knocked around last night. I'm willing to give Wang a pass on last night's game because he was facing the same lineup in two consecutive starts and I believe Boston would have hit whoever we threw out there last night. Even after that, Wang is 3-0 with a 3.81 ERA. Hughes and Kennedy have been struggling, and I'm willing to chalk that up to youth and an adjustment period. But still, we're not going to get far in October (if at all) unless we can get some solid performances from those two. Mussina has been okay, but he has been better than last year, and thats all we can really ask for. Right now Moose is sitting with 4.15 ERA, and if he can pitch like that all year, I think we'll all be really happy. We'll see how tonights game goes...its Moose vs. Beckett again. Pettite has been solid, and has taken the team lead in ERA after Wang's rough outing last night...he's now 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Keep it up Andy.

All in all, it has been a frustrating start to the season. It seems we've reached a turning point, with the bullpen pitching rather well. We should get Joba back soon, as his father Harlan is reportedly in significantly better condition. On that note, I want to say that my thoughts are with Joba, Harlan, and the rest of the Chamberlain family. Here's to a speedy recovery Harlan!

Anyway, the Yankees seem to be turning their somewhat slow start around, and their now 9-7, tying them for first place in the AL East. Lets go Yanks!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Blue Jays @ Yankees 4/3/08


Another great baseball game tonight. I'll keep this post short and sweet due to my hangover. Yes, I do love baseball enough to blog about it at 9:07 am the morning after playing beer pong all night.

I didn't get to watch the game past the fourth inning, but I think I can make an accurate post after taking a look at the box score and watching the game recap, as well as a couple of the top plays. So here are my highlights:

Phil Hughes didn't look like the youngest pitcher in baseball out there last night. He looked great. He hardly ran into trouble, and when he did, he kept his composure well. If we can get six inning, two run ball out of him on a regular basis, everyone will forget all about Johan Santana as the Yanks cruise past the Red Sox to win the East.

Bobby Abreu is on fire right now. He hit well in spring training, and I'm glad to see him carry it over into the regular season.

The bullpen in general is looking great so far. Chamberlain and Rivera have been solid in both of their outings so far, and last night we got to see Traber and Bruney combine to pitch a scoreless seventh inning. How many 3-game series did the Yanks win last season by only scoring 8 runs? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the Yanks break out the bats more, but it is certainly encouraging to see our pitching hold tight leads late in the game on a seemingly consistent basis.

Player of the game: Bobby Abreu. This was a tough call, but I give the nod to Abreu since he seems to have contributed the most to the win. The runner up is Hughes by a narrow margin.

Enjoy the rest of the day, I'm going to go catch up on some sleep!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Off and Running

Well folks, we are off and running with the 2008 season now! I apologize I didn't get a chance to live-blog the game, my Constitutional Law paper due tomorrow had other ideas...at least I got to watch the game. Here are my impressions and thoughts from the game:

Wang looked great. His sinker was sinking, inducing a ton of ground outs and even broke four bats. He may have given up 6 hits in 7 innings, but most of those hits were ground balls that were just lucky enough to find holes. All in all, Wang pitched like the ace he is, and he starts off 2008 with a nice 1-0 record and a 2.57 ERA.

Joba looked like he was struggling with his command a little bit in the 8th inning, and it also looked like he hadn't yet stretched his arm out to the point were he can throw 98-100 mph consistently. He was hitting around 93-96 last night, and despite his lack of command, he was able to get the job done and struck out 2 while keeping the lead intact. He's only going to get better as the season goes on. My only concern: if it takes him this long to get solid command of his fastball and slider, his two best pitches, how long will it take him to get a solid command of his curveball and changeup after he transitions back to the rotation?

Rivera looked quite sharp last night as well. His cutter looked great, and if he continues to pitch like last night's performance, we're in for a good season. He looked like vintage Rivera out there....he's my favorite pitcher of all time for a reason.

Abreu looked good at the plate last night. He was working the count, and collected two hits. Looks like Girardi's running regiment during Spring Training is paying off...Abreu scored from first on a double from A-Rod in the first inning, and Damon legged out a triple.

A-Rod picked right where he left off last season. He went 2-3 with a walk, a double, a single, and RBI and a run scored.

Giambi actually looked great in the field, believe it or not. He made a nice pick at first, scooping up a low throw from Jeter. He even made a leaping catch at first which probably saved two runs. Hell, Giambi was even heads up on the base paths; he stopped halfway to second on a groundball so the second basemen couldn't tag him. Because of that, the Aaron Hill (the Jays second basemen) didn't have time to throw to second and get the double play, and Giambi made it safely to second base after Hill was forced made the play at first. If he can stay healthy, he's going to be a huge asset to this team. So far his defense has actually helped us so far.

And the best for last. What a game Melky had last night! I've been a huge fan of Melky ever since 2006, and the thought of losing him is a major reason why I was against a potential Santana trade. His hitting is still developing, but man can this kid play center field. The Melk Man had two (almost 3) tough catches in center last night, robbing the Jays of extra base hits both times. And, to top off his night, Melky hit a homer that just barely made it over the wall in right. That homer ended up being the game winning hit.

From now on, I'm going to name the Pinstripe Perspectives Player of the Game (PPPotG) "award" to a player after each game. At least, I'll try to do it every game. For last night's game, the nod goes to Melky Cabrera. His stellar defense and his solo-shot in the 6th inning combined are the main reason we won last night. Runner up for the PPPotG is Chien-Ming Wang for his solid performance.


Overall, it was a great game last night. It was close all the way, and it really was an excellent way to start off a new season, and a proper way to close out the final opening day of Yankee Stadium.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ah, Opening Day!

Its that time of the year again baseball fans! Opening day! A time where baseball fans are baseball fans, and everyone puts aside petty team preferences for a day and celebrates the return of our favorite sport for another season. I am looking forward to wearing my Robbie Cano jersey while I watch all the games with a nice cold beer and a few good friends.

So for today, I am going to live blog the game, or at least most of it. I'll try to do an update after each inning. To kill the remaining two hours until the first pitch of the 2008 season, try these two articles I came across this morning. Interesting read to gear up for the new season:

http://mvn.com/mlb-yankees/2008/03/30/the-bronx-block-2008-season-predictions/
http://mvn.com/milb-yankees/2008/03/30/prediction-time/

Oh, and a happy birthday to Chien-Ming Wang! He turns 28 today. Come on Yanks, lets give him a "W" for his birthday present!

UPDATE 1:33 PM - The game is still in rain delay, so I'm stuck watching the Tigers and the Royals battle it out until the rain lets up in New York. I don't know how much longer I can wait!

UPDATE 2:31 PM - Just got word the game is postponed. Guess we'll try this again tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From the House that Ruth Built to the House that George Built

Hey Yankee fans, what’s goin’ on? First off I’d like to thank my buddy Justin for inviting me to contribute to his blog. Much like you all, I can’t wait until we bring home #27, and show the world where the Yankees belong.

I’ve been a Yankee fan for as long as I can remember, being that it’s a family tradition. For my first post, I’m going to talk about the New Yankee Stadium. The new “state of the art” stadium has been a point of debate among the Yankees community for years. Some people love the prospect of a brand new facility, where others are traditionalists who see the end of the current stadium as sacrilege. I find myself in agreement with the later. "This new stadium will present new comforts, new features and be state-of-the-art in every way," Yankees president Randy Levine said. "It will be the most spectacular fan-friendly stadium ever built." As a hardcore Yankee fan, I find it hilarious that members of the Yankees’ front office like Levine claim that the new stadium is “fan-friendly.” In my opinion, there are two crucial points that contradict Levine’s statement. For one, the new stadium will hold 51,000. This is a problem for me, because the new stadium will hold 6,000 less people than the current stadium. Second, the new stadium will house 42 more luxury boxes. Now, does that sound like the front office is building the stadium for fans? If they were doing it for the fans, they would build more seats! It’s hard enough as it is to get single game tickets, and it’ll be much worse next year. If you ask me, the fact that there will be 42 more luxury boxes is reason enough that the new stadium is being built primarily for financial reasons. There are some other amenities in addition to the luxury boxes, including a museum, a sports bar, a steakhouse, and a martini bar. It’s definitely necessary to have a museum considering the rich history of the organization. Overall I can’t say I’m sold on the idea of a new stadium. I’ve heard the argument that the current stadium needs a renovation, and personally I don’t buy it. In my opinion, the new stadium is a pure money making scheme. Steinbrenner’s been trying to get a new stadium built since the 80’s, and he finally succeeded. Big Stein’s going to make even more money off the Yankee fan base because of the decrease in supply, and obvious increase in demand of seats. Yankee Stadium was opened in 1923, and saw a ridiculous amount of baseball history. It’s housed a team that has won 26 World Series Championships, and even more pennants. There have been countless Hall of Fame players that have played on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium, and it will be a very sad day when the Yankees play their last game in this historic ballpark. The Yankees organization is moving from the House that Ruth Built, to the House that George Built, and not for good reasons. Thoughts?


-Here are some pics of the new stadium















-Taken by my brother on his school trip.















-A closer shot













-The "great hall" (www.ballparksofbaseball.com)