Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Oh Captain, My Captain!!

Posted By: Miss October

The cover of today's New York Daily News says it all ...

My one complaint: Couldn't he have split the hits between Sunday and Tuesday, so I could have seen him win his very first batting title in person?

Then again... who am I to argue with perfection?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

AL East Champs… AGAIN!!

Posted By: Miss October

Congratulations, Yankees…. It took real teamwork to get through this season’s injuries, drama and newspaper and magazine headlines. At the beginning of the year, critics – and even fans – were wondering if this was the year the Yankees’ amazing playoff run would end. After several stumbling blocks along the way, an August road trip to Boston resulted in a five game sweep of the Red Sox – and they never looked back. They found a way to pull it off… AGAIN.

And so begins a somewhat relaxing week for the true Yankee fans. A chance to conserve sleep before late night playoff games and post games kick in; a chance to make dinner plans before your social life is contingent upon the playoff schedule; a chance to catch up on the new fall TV season that has been stored on your DVR…. It’s the calm before the storm… and when that Yankee magic starts to kick in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welcome Back… ?

Posted By: Miss October

After a long absence, Hideki Matsui will most likely be back in the Yankee lineup tonight, serving as the DH. It’s been four months since he suffered the wrist injury that ended his consecutive game streak and forced the Yankees to rely on young Melky Cabrera to fill in and play left field for most of the season. After his shaky brief appearance with the Yankees last year, Cabrera has exceeded all expectations by playing solid defense – including a strong outfield throwing arm that the Yankees have been seriously lacking in recent years – along with a .286 batting average.

While it will be nice to eventually see the familiar # 55 back in left field, especially for the playoff run, you have to wonder where that leaves Melky. With a solid Bobby Abreu in right field, even Gary Sheffield feels a little threatened and is taking ground balls at first base to give him an opportunity for some more playing time once he comes off of the DL.

While Matsui doesn’t seem like one who will disrupt team chemistry, having Cabrera on the bench will take a little spark out of the Yankee lineup. It’s been fun watching he and fellow youngster Robinson Cano come through in the clutch and speed around the basepaths. I’m sure it will only take the first Godzilla home run to settle some of the Yankees’ fans concerns … and it’s comforting to know there’s a sparkplug on the bench just waiting for an opportunity to get in the game in a big spot.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hidden Mistakes

posted by: Mr. November

Carl Anthony Pavano will turn 31 on January 6th. He's a multi-millionaire who began playing Major League baseball when he was 22. Eight years later, he's worked his way up to an $8 million dollar annual salary, and that money is coming from arguably the most reknowned team in professional sports.

Problem is, Pavano hasn't actually pitched since June 27, 2005.

I work every day, sometimes even on the weekends. I've work two jobs and jobs which dictate that I sometimes bring work home. I've seen friends and family members work at jobs which sometimes take over their lives; often, they spend more time at work than they do at home. Through it all, none of them, myself included, has seen a payday anywhere near the $8 million Pavano is currently earning.

Now, I don't begrudge Carl for making his money. He signed his current deal with the Yankees after coming off a 2004 season in which he made 31 starts, pitched over 220 innings, and won 18 games. His ERA that year was a more-than-respectable 3.00 for a Marlins team that was one year removed from winning the World Series. The Yankees signed him to a $40 million contract in the hopes that those 18 wins would translate to even more while playing on the grandest stage in baseball. They didn't.

Pavano's 2005 season ended after 17 starts, 4 wins, and a 4.77 ERA. He surrended 17 homeruns in only 100 innings (this after giving up 16 in all of 2004). Was it the switch over to the American League? Probably. Was it the pressure of playing in New York? Could have been. Was it the lax attitude that often follows an athlete who has just signed a deal for more money than he has ever before seen in his life? Sounds reasonable.

For me, the bottom line is this: Pavano has not contributed and most likely will not contribute, at least not in the near future. Back problems, butt problems, arm problems, and car accident lies aside, he has not been the pitcher or the person the Yankees expected. And you know what: It doesn't matter.

What other team can say they made an $8 million mistake in 2006, yet still lead their division by almost 10 games? What other team can make up for such a lack of expected production with a sure-fire Hall of Famer, one of the most reliable and steady pitchers of the 1990's/2000's, and a young gun who, as of this writing, has 16 wins? What other team can score runs in bunches and not even necessarily need any output at all from a free agent pitching siging gone wrong? I only know of one team that can do all of that.

I liked the Pavano signing when it happened, contrary to other fans I knew at the time. But I also knew that, if for any reason it didn't work, it wouldn't hurt the team. The Yankees can hide mistakes like Pavano, thanks mostly in part to the green bills and blank checks protruding from George's pockets. They may have overpaid for Pavano (in hindsight, a dollar and a sandwich would have been overpaying), but it doesn't really matter. The Yankees have All-Stars at almost every position. Gambling $40 million on a one-time NL 18 game winner is a drop in the bucket for a team that, despite such mistakes, is poised to win the AL East for the 9th straight season.

Mistake? Nah...just a bump in the road that leads to winning, and winning, and winning...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Ode to Carl Pavano

Posted By: Miss October

Oh Carl Pavano, where have you gone?
We expected so much more when you signed on
They aired your press conference live on TV
Who would have known what a disappointment you’d be?

The Yanks signed a young pitcher … getting their wish
They remembered how good he was with the Fish
What happened to that man, no one knows
Those days are long gone, as recent history shows

Arm troubles, stiffness, falling on his butt
He’s being paid his $39 million contract – for what?
What he’s been doing all this time nobody knows
They should have made him a batboy or had him wash clothes

They thought he was ready for more rehab, but that all changed
When he crashed his shiny Porsche in the rain
He thought he was fine, telling the Yanks a big fib
When in reality he had cracked two of his ribs

Now Cashman is mad and at his wit’s end
And Pavano can’t call any of the Yankees his friends
His Yankee “career” has just been a wreck
Except for his pizza-making segment on “Kids on Deck” ...

Friday, August 25, 2006

The House That $800 Million Built

posted by: Mr. November

My esteemed colleague has me down 2-0 in the "posting to the blog" category, so I'd better get crackin'!

I was going to use this opportunity to talk about how much I love Yankee Stadium and how I'll hate to see it go in 2009. But, why be schmaltzy when I don't really mean it? Of course I love the Stadium, but that goes without saying. Loving your team's home field is not a passion only Yankee fans can claim as their own (I've been to Shea only once and, though it's an eyesore, I know many Met fans who have a little place in their orange and blue hearts for it). So, really, there's no reason to go on and on about nostalgia, history, or my dad took me so blah, blah, blah. Let's face it: we'd all love a new Yankee Stadium.

I'm certainly not looking to downplay the importance of the current Yankee Stadium. It's rich in tradition, history, and championships. But let's remember, in it's current form, it's only 35 years old. There's not much need to preserve a building that can't even collect social security. The white facade is coming along to the new location, as is monument park. So, if you're a stickler for finding memories and traditions in stone and paint, please don't fear.

However, if you're more interested in keeping your memories and traditions in your heart, and if you're looking to make more memories with every trip to the ballpark, then a new Yankee Stadium is just what the doctor (or the Boss) ordered. The Stadium is rich in tradition because the team is rich in tradition, not vice versa. As free agency and Steinbrenner's wallet run wild, we tend to root more for the idea of the Yankees, as opposed to each and every actual "yankee". So the team, the real tradition, is still going to be there come 2009. The players may be different, the coaching staff may change, and the stadium will definitely be new. But the memories will still be there.

I'm not denying the greedy reasons for a new stadium - one only needs to compare the number of seats in the new building to the number of luxury boxes. But realisitically, is a new stadium a bad thing? Will fans suffer from nice restaurants, cleaner and newer restrooms, more parking? Of course not. And I don't buy the "it's going to be too expensive" argument either - if you bought a ticket and have the means of getting to the Bronx, you're most likely not on food stamps. So, please, enjoy the new Yankee Stadium. And remember - you don't need to forget the old one.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Broadcast Team I’d Like to See ... John Sterling and ESPN’s Jon Miller

Posted By: Miss October

I know that lots of Yankee fans complain that ESPN announcers have a bias against the Yankees. My Dad has echoed that sentiment for years – claiming that Joe Morgan “hates” the team. I’m fairly certain this is because my Dad still holds hard feelings toward Morgan due to the 1976 World Series when Morgan, as part of the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine, swept the Yankees in four games.

When the Yankees play on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, although it’s usually a good matchup, the downside is having to listen to Joe Morgan, and his broadcast partner, Jon Miller. I hadn’t paid much attention to Miller’s comments in the past, until last night when repeated ranting about a David Ortiz home run went on for about 10 minutes… accompanied by a replay of the home run at least five times.

A sampling:

“a colossal home run”
“that one would have gone over the top of Mount Washington” – (which I had to look up – it’s in New Hampshire)
“If you had HDTV, you would have been able to watch this amazing home run in high definition.”

I also caught a soundbyte of the Yankees radio broadcast in the bottom of the 9th inning, when David Ortiz was on second base with no outs, and the Yankees decided to intentionally walk Manny Ramirez. This causes a loud round of boos from the Fenway faithful.

John Sterling, in one of his usual rants:

“I can’t believe these people are booing...
How STUPID can you be?
Pitch to Manny... what are you NUTS?
That run means NOTHING….”

I had to laugh to myself. One, because he sounded like an idiot; two because I was happy a sportscaster was on the “good guys’ side” for once…

With that said, Mariano Rivera’s “amazing” performance that enabled him to get out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the bottom of the 9th did not receive any type of verbal recognition by Miller. Even “Yankee hater” Joe Morgan caved in and said what we already know…

Mariano is “the man.”

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Newest, NL Yankees

Posted By: Miss October

Besides the roster of Mets that I see in the paper every day, the “big names” that everyone has heard of and ex-American Leaguers, I’ll admit I’m not familiar with many National League players. Of course inter-league play has expanded my horizons a bit, but I’m still not very well versed.

As the Yankees strengthened their team with two National League players right before the trade deadline, I found it ironic that 1) I knew who they were and 2) I had somewhat “personal” stories about each one of them.

June 2002, Baltimore – After watching the Yankees beat the Orioles 3-2 the night before at Camden Yards, we decided to go back to catch another game, Orioles vs. Phillies. We bought bleacher seats in centerfield, which isn’t really a bad view for only $13, and got a free hat out of the deal since it was “hat night.” After eating at Boog’s BBQ pit, we went out to our seats to go catch batting practice.

The Phillies were on the field shagging fly balls, and out in center was, you guessed it, Bobby Abreu. I of course didn’t know him from a hole in the wall, but he was catching just about everything hit to him and he was throwing most of the balls he caught to the kids near the centerfield railing. We watched this for awhile and when he had given balls to all of the kids, I guess I was the only “kid” left. He tossed one right to me. That’s when I found out that batting practice balls are labeled as such. Who knew? Anyway, after that day, I definitely knew who Bobby Abreu was…

March 2004, Tampa, Spring Training – A friend and I took the trip I had always wanted to take – to spring training! Since the Yankees are probably the only team in MLB who sell out their spring training tickets the first day they go on sale, I had my friend buy the tickets while I was on a business trip. We ended up with first row seats down the left field line – right next to the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. On his way to the bullpen, one of the Pirates’ pitching coaches asked my friend and I if we wanted some baseballs, which we of course accepted. Over the course of the game the pitching coach would come share insights and complaints (how can teams like us compete with a huge payroll like the Yankees?).. as well as some color commentary.

That day, a tall left fielder wearing # 36 with long blonde locks flowing out from under his baseball cap made a diving catch. The coach commented, “He’s a great player, can play almost everywhere – even catches. But why does he keep his hair so long?” Of course that was Craig Wilson, who had to clip some of his goldilocks before joining the Yanks. But with Gary Sheffield taking ground balls at first base, Craig might be able to grow his hair back over the winter. Only time will tell.

It will be interesting to see how these former NL stars perform "on the big stage" this weekend when they get their first taste of the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry in Fenway Park.......