• April 30th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 30th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    The Yankees are now 13-10 on the season – and in first place!

    It’s incredible that they are also 10-0 in day games this year. Watch out Willy Clark and Al Lewis – there’s a new version of The Sunshine Boys forming in front of our eyes. (By the way, did I call the 13-10 record, or what? Now, let’s hope that I’m right about the hot May and June as well.)

    Mussina continues to leave runners stranded – he got out of a 1st and 3rd spot in the 2nd, a runner on 3rd in the 3rd, and the bases loaded in the 5th today. Amazing.

    Let’s hope that Wang and Chacon can be as magical in Fenway.

    And, was there no way to do something with Sturtze (to get Small on the roster) instead of sending down Smith? That extra LHP out of the pen could be useful against Ortiz and Nixon this week.

    Target Lugo Or Wait On Pena?

    Posted by on April 30th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    Wild thought of the moment: If New York does become concerned about Jeter’s defense at SS, then sign Julio Lugo after the season.

    Lugo, while not in the class of Adam Everett or Jack Wilson with the glove at SS, would be an improvement over Jeter.

    Then you move Jeter to 2B in 2007. And, you can either trade Cano (who would be a legit trading chip – given his age and contract) or move Cano to the OF in 2007. (With Sheffield – assuming they extend him – becoming the full-time DH in 2007.) Cano goes to LF and you move Matsui to RF.

    Giambi would love to play 1B all the time anyway.

    Or, as a Plan B, you just eat Jeter’s glove for another season after this year, then go with Ramiro Pena at SS in 2008, move Jeter to 2B, and figure out what to do with Cano.

    I know that many are thinking now “What about A-Rod at SS?” While that might make some sense, I don’t see Jeter moving off SS for Alex. Yes, it’s an ego thing. Think Derek doesn’t have an ego? He might move for a new free agent or a kid coming up, but, with A-Rod, that’s an admission of “He’s better than me” that I think Jeter would have a hard time accepting.

    Plus, who can say for sure that Alex, given his size, age, and time off the positon can move back to SS and do a good job?

    When you look around the Yankees team, and their contracts, there’s not a lot of positions to move Jeter to – and if they sign a RF after this season, that’s one less moving part to play with in the shuffle.

    It’s either move Jeter to 2B in the next couple of years, or the OF (which he doesn’t seem to want) next year, or run out of options soon.

    Watching WasWatching.com

    Posted by on April 30th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Thanks to Peter Abraham for featuring WasWatching.com this week under the “Blog Watch” in his Sunday column at the Journal News!

    April 29th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 29th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    There are many things that one could focus on from today’s game – Damon’s power and hustle, Unit’s issues, Sheffield’s injuries – but, to me, here’s the most important thing:

    With a win tomorrow, and if the Devil Rays can beat a tired Curt Schilling, then the New York Yankees will head into the month of May, and a two game series in Fenway Park, tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. Sure, there’s a few moving parts to this plan – but, it’s not impossible.

    Yankees-Sox on Monday. Damon’s return to Boston. And, first place at stake. Wow, what’s a fan of Prison Break to do? Actually, it’s a no brainer. Really. I did say it was Yankees-Sox, right? There will be a whole week following the Fenway games to watch Prison Break on tape.

    And, for those worried about the ol’ “I hate it when they score a ton because that means they’re going to hardly score at all tomorrow” thing, check out (going back a bit) each time that the Yankees scored at least 13 runs in a win. What happened each time on the next day? (Note: We’re only using dates where there was a game the very next day.) The results:

    4/3/06 – Won 15-2. Next day, lost 4-3.
    9/13/05 – Won 17-3. Next day, won 6-5.
    7/4/05 – Won 13-8. Next day, won 12-3.
    5/14/05 – Won 15-6. Next day, won 6-4.
    4/18/05 – Won 19-8. Next day, lost 6-2.
    9/18/04 – Won 14-1. Next day, won 11-1.
    8/28/04 – Won 18-6. Next day, lost 6-4.
    8/19/04 – Won 13-10. Next day, lost 5-0.
    5/27/04 – Won 18-5. Next day, won 7-5.

    Just three times (out of 9 times) did they struggle to post some runs. Thus, there’s little reason to sweat about Mussina not getting any run support tomorrow. (And, don’t forget, the Jays’ Gustavo Chacín has an ERA of 5.11 heading into the game. That will help some as well.)

    What, No Eggplant Calzone Too?

    Posted by on April 29th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From the Auburn Citizen -

    George Steinbrenner isn’t known as “The Boss” because of his generous reputation.

    The New York Yankees’ 75-year-old owner is famous for his surly demeanor and his no-nonsense approach to running an organization.

    But don’t tell that to Sydney Lattimore, 10, or her brother, Sean, 9. The budding Yankee fans and their parents were granted front-row tickets at Yankee Stadium for New York’s home opener April 11 courtesy of Steinbrenner himself.

    The Auburn family’s encounter with baseball’s most controversial owner occurred on a last-minute spring break trip by the Lattimores. Sean Sr. and his wife, Beth, decided to take their two children to New York City for a few days and ended up staying in the hotel where Steinbrenner lives.

    “My wife and I went down to the lobby and all of a sudden a guy came in and he looked familiar,” Sean Sr. said of his first encounter with Steinbrenner. “I looked down at his hand and saw the (World Series) rings and knew it was him. I went over and introduced my son and daughter and he immediately was taken by them.”

    He said his family’s conversation with Steinbrenner was “just like talking with one of your relatives.”

    “It was cool,” Sydney said. “He was really nice.”

    The next morning, the day of the Yankees’ opener against the Kansas City Royals, Steinbrenner was once again in the hotel lobby. When he saw the Lattimores get off the elevator, Steinbrenner signaled for Sydney and Sean Jr. to come over to him. That’s when he offered up his own personal seats.

    The Auburn family quickly accepted the exclusive tickets.

    “Mr. Steinbrenner asked the kids if they were going to the baseball game,” Sean Sr. said. “They said they didn’t have tickets so he reached in his blazer and pulled out four tickets. He turned to them and said, ‘You’ll love these seats, they’re my seats.’”

    When the family arrived back at the hotel after the game, there again was ever-giving Steinbrenner.

    “We went back after the game to get our luggage and he came right over to the kids,” Sean Sr. said. “He was chuckling with them. He asked them, ‘Were the seats good enough?’ You never see that side of him but we’ve shared the stories with a bunch of people and different people have come up with some really special stories of Steinbrenner. He’s got a real big heart and personal side that people seldom get to see.”

    I gotta start hanging out in hotel lobbies more often. Best I ever did was running into the acts of Ozzfest 2002 in the lobby of a Hilton Hotel in Woodbridge (NJ) while I was waiting for a tow truck.

    That’s nada compared to a Big Stein encounter.

    April 28th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    When the Yankees won last Tuesday, I wrote:

    …tonight was a page from the recent Yankees-great-teams text book. Get an early lead, have your starting pitcher maintain that margin, and then tack on runs until the game is far in your favor.

    Well, tonight, the Yankees were beat with a page from their own book. Luckily, no one has runaway with the A.L. East, and, despite a record of 11-10, New York is only one game out of first place.

    In a way, you can say that it’s now a 141 game season (instead of 162). And, if the Yankees win the remaining games in this series, and then go out and have a big May and June, then no one will care about the 11-10 start.

    Really, the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s butt everyday. I truly feel that tonight was just one of those nights. You’re going to win at least 60 games each baseball season and you’re going to lose around 60 games each baseball season – and it’s those remaining 40 games that make or break you. This evening was probably just one of those 60 games that you’re going to lose, no matter what.

    I expect the Yankees to rub some dirt on it, walk it off, and get ready to keep playing. It also helps to have Johnson and Mussina on the hill for the next two games.

    Steve Howe

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the AP tonight:

    Steve Howe, the relief pitcher whose promising career was derailed by cocaine and alcohol abuse, died Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, Calif. He was 48.

    Howe was killed at 5:55 a.m. PDT, said Dalyn Backes of the Riverside County coroner’s office. The accident occurred about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

    Howe will likely forever be the whipping boy of anyone bounced from the game looking for a second chance. We’ve heard it before – “Why can’t I get a second chance? Steve Howe was suspended seven times and was allowed to keep coming back!”

    Regardless of your position on that issue, as a Yankees fan, there’s something else to remember about Howe. He was a New York Yankee. In fact, while many think of him as being a member of the Dodgers, consider this: Howe pitched in 231 games for Los Angeles and in 229 for New York. So, what, those two extra games make him more of a Dodger than a Yankee?

    And, while he was in New York, Howe performed. Look at these stats via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia – all pitchers with at least 200 IP for the Yankees from 1991 through 1996:

    howe.jpg

    Some might like to say that, if you looked up the word “schlimazzel” in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Steve Howe.

    But, all things considered, Howe did a fairly good job on the mound for the Yankees. I just hope that some people can realize that when they look back at his life now.

    Baseball Between The Numbers

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    FYI, you might enjoy the review of Baseball Between The Numbers that I just did for NetShrine.com. Click here to read it.

    In addition to the Jeter and A-Rod items mentioned in my review, there’s a study in the book entitled “Are New Stadiums a Good Deal?” that I think is must reading for every Yankees fan.

    Hope For The Wright Stuff?

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    SG at Count the Rings™ goes Inside the Numbers for the Yankees. If you check it out, there is an interesting comment to the study – Could it be, with a better fielding team, that Jaret Wright is not all that bad? Good stuff.

    The Baseball Same Game

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    One year ago today, my first book, The Baseball Same Game, was released. While it now seems like it was more like a decade ago now, rather than just 12 months, that was a very exciting day.

    Writing a book requires a serious amount of commitment. During the process of composing my book, I was focused on the task at hand just about every waking hour – and there were many of those hours as I hardly slept during the time it took to do the book. I probably averaged five and a half hours per night sleep those days.

    And, when I say “every waking hour,” it’s not a reach. I would be thinking about content while in the shower in the morning, in the car on the way to work, during lunch in the office, again on the way home, and, lastly, as I was in bed (waiting to fall asleep). Of course, these thoughts always led to me making notes on odd pieces of paper – or whatever was handy – when they entered my head. I made notes on the back of ATM receipts, the bottom of tissue boxes, the back of junk mail envelopes – and stuff like that.

    In retrospect, writing a book is a crazy process to put yourself through (because of the pound of flesh that you end up extracting from yourself while it’s happening). Still, once you’re done – and at that moment when the book is a reality – it’s a wonderful feeling.

    If you’re fortunate, like I was, the feeling can be sustained for a bit. Receiving good reviews and getting exposure through the media (especially for the first time) like I did with The Baseball Same Game is extremely flattering and does wonders for your self-esteem.

    However, there’s more to this process that happens once the book is out and the reviews are in, etc.

    First, you find out that, even though just about everyone you know said they were excited for you (and about the book), most of your acquaintances who said they would buy the book never actually pick up a copy. (People don’t do what they say they’re going to do. While this should never come as a shock, because it has a personal impact this time, it does sting a bit.)

    Secondly, after a few months of sales, you begin to realize that it’s questionable as to whether or not the commitment and sacrifice expended will ever be equally offset in terms of actual revenue. (In my case, sales were about 20% of what I had hoped for – and that doesn’t come anywhere near what I put into getting the book out there.)

    Further, based on my experience, I would say that, around 9 months after your book is released, you come to the conclusion that the best way to look at your book is to consider it as something that you did for yourself – and, since the book is done, it was a success.

    After this concession, you just pretty much stop thinking about it. It’s done – the whole process – and, in some ways, it seems like it never happened. Of course, that’s silly – because your book does exist. Yet, compared to the feelings that you have when the book is first released, the feelings that you have 9 months after that are almost as if the accomplishment never occurred.

    I should qualify this – if your book is a bestseller, etc., then this timeline and its milestones do not apply. But, I would bet that, in the case of just about every “non-best-seller,” this progression applies over roughly the same time period.

    And, I’m not looking to scare anyone out of writing a book. To be candid, I still expect to write another one someday. I’m just trying to share how writing my book was like a roller-coaster ride. It was a thrill – but, like every roller-coaster ride, while it was exciting, it had to reach a stopping point. And, why not use a one-year anniversary as a point to say “that was fun but it’s over”?

    In closing, I want to thank everyone who supported The Baseball Same Game during the last 12 months. You were what made my particular roller-coaster ride so much fun. I hope that you’ll join me on the next ride when it happens.

    Mark Lamster At Coliseum Books

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    I just found out that Coliseum Books (in NYC) will be having one of their Baseball Book Group Meetings on May 6th. And, Mark Lamster, the author of Spalding’s World Tour will be there. If you’re in the area and looking for something to do, you might want to consider dropping in – as, from what I’ve heard, these meetings are usually a fun time for baseball fans.

    Besides, Mark is a Yankees fan. Remember, in this world of post-2004, we should be supporting each other whenever we can! [wink]

    April 27th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 27th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    One month ago, the question came up: Will Jeter be the 2006 AL Batting Champ?

    Well, he’s sure off to some start, huh?

    OK, when The Farns threw that 0-1 pitch to Ty Wigginton in the 8th, and the YES gun said “100 MPH,” I have to confess that I yelled out “Whoa!” – even though I was watching the game by myself. (And, by the way, did the ump miss that pitch, or what?)

    I was happy to see Matsui get the big hit tonight. Of all the Yankees, when they’re not going well, I worry about him the most. Think of who he was (and/or is) in his country and how important it is for his people for him to do well here (at this level). Then, factor in the cultural implications for him with respect to not losing face. It’s got to kill him more so than most Yankees not to do well. That’s why I feel for Matsui the most when he’s struggling.

    Speaking of happy, how cool was it to see the Red Sox’ Josh Beckett get batted around this evening like a piñata on Cinco de Mayo?

    Lastly, I have to comment on Tanyon Sturtze starting the 9th inning tonight. Clearly, Torre was looking to get lucky there – and it blew up in his face in a hurry.

    It was like the guy who needs a hammer to drive in a nail, but, he’s too lazy to go get the hammer. So, instead, he picks up a rock and tries to bang in the nail by whacking it with the stone. And, after one smack, he realizes he’s going to screw up the whole thing if he doesn’t go get the proper tool – the hammer. Thus, in trying to be creative, in the end, he was just wasting time and assuming risk.

    That’s not smart.

    TSN Interview With Damon

    Posted by on April 27th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    It must be getting close to May 1st. The Johnny Damon features are popping up all over the place. The Sporting News has a nice one up now. This part caught my eye:

    TSN: There’s a perception that the Yankees are corporate, the Red Sox more like a fraternity. Accurate?

    DAMON: The guys we had in Boston definitely brought the fraternity and fun-loving side back to baseball. Over the years, the Red Sox fan base grew so much because of the players we had. We stepped out on the field and smiled, we goofed off and had long hair and dreads. Everybody dyed their hair or whatever, and we made baseball fun. People said, ‘This is the team I want to root for.’ I’m not sure they’re still that way because I’m not there.

    New York has always been more corporate, but we’ve added some great personalities. Myself, Shawn Chacon, Jason Giambi — the whole world knows how great G is. A-Rod — he’s a great teammate, which is something I wouldn’t have realized on the outside looking in. Same with Gary Sheffield. The personalities on this team are incredible, and I think people will realize that this locker room isn’t like before.

    Chacon, A-Rod, Giambi, Sheff………..but, no mention of Jeter? Hmm.

    In The Spirit Of LOB….

    Posted by on April 27th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Last night’s game got me thinking. Which Yankees pitchers are leaving runners stranded this season, so far?

    LOB% for pitchers is a pretty useful tool. Here’s the Yankees staff to date:

    0000LOB.jpg

    There are studies that say a pitcher who does well or poor in LOB%, compared to the norm, will revert to the norm level at some point.

    This could be bad news for Sturtze, Proctor and Mussina.

    Nightengale On Damon

    Posted by on April 27th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    I really enjoyed Bob Nightengale’s feature in USA Today yesterday on Johnny Damon. This part caught my eye:

    A’s fans greeted Giambi with signs that read “Money can’t buy you love” and “There’s no A in $ellout.” While Red Sox fans are wearing shirts that say, “Looks like Jesus, Acts like Judas, Throws like Mary,” Damon wants to believe they actually will forgive him.

    “I don’t understand some people, using biblical terms to criticize me when this is just a game,” Damon says. “People saying some stupid things about me: ‘I’m a traitor. All I care about is money. I’m not grateful.’ It’s crazy. People have the right to say what they want, but as long as I can go to bed at night and look myself in the mirror, I’ll be all right. I know who I am. And I know I’m a good person.

    “I mean, are people going to suddenly forget we won a World Series championship two years ago? Are they going to forget when I couldn’t lift my shoulder last year? Or that I played with dislocated fingers? Or that I played with a concussion when I couldn’t see right for months?

    “I did everything I could for that organization, and now they want to forget all of that?”

    Count on it Johnny. It will be instant amnesia on their part. Be prepared for it.

    April 26th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Oh, those El-oh-bees! (Sixteen LOBs, in fact, if you lost count.)

    It’s a shame that Wang’s effort gets wasted today.

    Yankees now have lost 9 games this month. And, the sad part is that 5 of those 9 should have been wins:

    1. April 4th @ Oakland
    2. April 8th @ Los Angeles
    3. April 15th @ Minnesota
    4. April 21st vs. Baltimore
    5. And, now tonight vs. Tampa Bay

    Further, now, three of the last four losses for the Yankees are games that they should have won.

    So, suppose that they won 3 of these 5 “lost games.” That would make their record 13-6 instead of 10-9.

    That’s a fair difference.

    Shifting gears, yes, he does look like a young Timothy Busfield, but, boy, that Chad Orvella sure makes big pitches (at least it seems like) every time he pitches against the Yankees, no?

    Fearless (?) Updated Prediction

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Three months ago, I thought that the Yankees would win 90 games this season. Now, looking at the Yankees schedule, and how they’ve played in their first 18 games, I want to change that to 99 wins for the season. The prediction breakdown now being:

    2006prediction.jpg

    That’s right. I think the Yankees will have a big May and June. Then, they’ll play slightly over .500 during July and August – and will close out with a huge September.

    Mark it down: May, June, and September – those are the months where the Yankees can make their money this season.

    Of course, they also need to keep their head above water during April, July and August to make those 99 wins.

    And, 99 wins should be good for another A.L. East crown this year.

    Update, 4:43 pm ET, 4-26-06:

    Funny, I just went to CoolStandings.com and this is what I saw:

    2006predictioncool.jpg

    Note that their system now predicts 98.2 wins for the Yankees this season – pretty darn close to 99, huh?

    Gift To UNC From Jenny & Steve

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From the AP -

    George Steinbrenner presides over “The House That Ruth Built.”

    Now, he’s adding the family name to the home of the University of North Carolina baseball team.

    The principal owner of the New York Yankees, and the Steinbrenner family have pledged $1 million to name the courtyard at the entrance to Boshamer Stadium. The courtyard will be named the Steinbrenner Family Courtyard. Steinbrenner’s daughter, Jenny, and her husband, Stephen Swindal, are both graduates of the University of North Carolina.

    Swindal is a general partner with the Yankees.

    OK, can the Yankees now have Andrew Miller in return?

    Week Left For Carlos Pena?

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    It could be – from the Detroit News -

    Pena can opt out of his minor league deal for the first time May 2 if the Yankees have not called him up, according to a person familiar with the situation.

    Think the Cubs would have an interest in Pena right about now? But, he would have to think about that – it would be an 8-week gig there (with no DH in the NL). Given that Pena is only batting .167 in his first 6 games at Columbus, he’ll probably decide to chill at Triple-A for a little while longer.

    Keeping Up With The Next Mantle

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Is Ruben Rivera really 32-years-old now? (Yes, and, actually, he’ll be 33 in another 6 months and change.)

    Here’s how Rivera is doing now, with the White Sox Triple-A team:

    0000rubenrivera.jpg

    I’m pretty sure that Rivera made the clubhouse party scenes on the 1996 World Series video. I wonder if he has a copy of that VHS and if he ever looks back that that now? And, if he does, what thoughts come to his mind?

    Mark Down June 7th On Your Calendar

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From the Boston Globe:

    He never had thrown this many pitches in a Red Sox uniform, or for anyone else in almost six years. In 534 big-league starts going back 19 seasons, he’d thrown more pitches just 16 times in his career. In April? Just twice, back in 1998.

    So how is it that on a 42-degree night in Cleveland, Curt Schilling at age 39 was left in to throw 133 pitches, and that was without getting through the seventh inning of last night’s 8-6 win over the Indians?

    Schilling hadn’t thrown this many pitches since July 7, 2000, when he was with the Phillies and threw 135 against the Orioles. The last Sox pitcher to throw as many pitches was Martinez, who threw 136 on May 1, 2001. Seven weeks later, by the way, he was on the disabled list with a bad shoulder.

    But, Schilling insisted, ”This was one of those nights where the line score doesn’t match [what happened on] the field.”

    I’m a firm believer that throwing 100 pitches over 6 innings in a 1-0 game against a great hitting team is more stressful than throwing 125 pitches over 7 innings when you’re winning 9-1 against a team with an average offense. So, I’ve never been a slave to a strict pitch count – with a pitcher over the age of 28.

    Still, 133 pitches over 30 batters (in 6.2 IP)? That’s like 20 pitches per IP.

    Granted, Schilling is a special pitcher. But, it will be interesting to see if this game does have any impact on his performance down the road this season. Yes, he did this back in April 1998 and went on to have the third best season of his career that year.

    But, that was at age 31 – and Curt’s 39-years old now.

    Let’s see how Schilling is 6 weeks from now on June 7th. By the way, on that date, the Red Sox will be in New York to play the Yankees.

    April 25th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 25th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    On one side, tonight was a page from the recent Yankees-great-teams text book. Get an early lead, have your starting pitcher maintain that margin, and then tack on runs until the game is far in your favor.

    On the other side, Tampa Bay was clearly playing their “B” tonight.

    Regardless of the side that you may choose to run with, the Yankees are now two games over .500 for the first time this season. And, since you need to get to two over before you can do three, and then four, and then five, etc., the win tonight has meaning.

    Actually, something came to me tonight – watching Scott Proctor close out the game.

    You’re a baseball player. You spend your entire life just trying to get to the major leagues. You have some talent and that allows you to get there. But, once at that level, there’s tremendous stress to do well – along with having doubts in your ability – and that hurts your performance (because you’re playing tight, as if every outing is “major league” life or death).

    Then, you have a huge life event. Your one-month old daughter has to have surgery to fix a serious heart ailment. Any parent can tell you how such a matter can slap you in the face faster and harder than anything else known to man. It also gives you a very quick lesson in what really matters in life – and what’s not so important in reality (despite what you may have thought in the past).

    All of a sudden, that past situation where you would have been stressed is not as dire because you now know, without question, that it’s not the end of your world if it doesn’t work out – because of that slap wake-up call that brought your attention to what really is important.

    Ironically, once that stress is removed from the situation, you’re no longer tight and your talent flows instead of being choked off at the source. And, because you actually have talent, you start to succeed. As this is repeated, you build confidence and become more successful.

    Now, I’m not saying that I know for sure that this has happened with Proctor. But, it’s possible. All the pieces are there on the timeline. Again, it’s just a thought that passed through my mind tonight as I watched what looked like a new Scott Proctor on the mound (to me). Your mileage may vary.

    The Curse Of HAL 9000?

    Posted by on April 25th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From Byte and Switch -

    While the Boston Red Sox were sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, Red Sox director of IT Steve Conley hardly felt like an 86-year curse was lifting.

    Despite the Series sweep that broke the club’s championship drought, the computer system running the club’s video archiving program kept going on the fritz. “The system crashed four times in four games,” Conley says. “We were crossing our fingers that it would come up. That drove us to go to a new system.”

    The Red Sox consider video archives a crucial part of their success. Management identifies it as a major reason for Dave Roberts’ stolen base in the ninth inning of a victory over the New York Yankees when Boston trailed the playoff series three games to none. The triumph started Boston on an eight-game winning streak that carried through the World Series.

    “In the sixth inning of that game, Dave Roberts pulled up every at-bat he could find of [Yankees reliever] Mariano Rivera pitching with a runner on first base,” Conley says. “He played that on a loop. He was trying to gain an edge. Then he went in as a pinch runner in the ninth inning, stole second base and scored, and we turned things around. Having that video was another tool in the shed.”

    Luck is the residue of design, indeed.

    Red Sox’s Foundation To Yankees: Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

    Posted by on April 25th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From WTNH in Bristol:

    The Red Sox Foundation is stepping up to the plate in Bristol today. A brand new playscape for the city’s Head Start program is being dedicated, and there’s a challenge out there aimed at the arch-rival Yankees baseball team.

    These three and four year olds at the Bristol Head Start program are getting a little piece of Fenway in their own backyard.

    “I love baseball, everyone in my country loves baseball.”

    Maria Marmol and her four-year-old son Carlos, both from the Dominican Republic, love the Red Sox — especially number 34, David Ortiz or “Big Poppy.”

    When she heard the big league foundation decided to step up to the plate and donate money for a new playscape at Carlos’ school she was grateful.

    “We are happy they can go outside and play,” says Marmol.

    The entire playground cost $40,000. Through grants and the Red Sox Foundation, Head Start has the thing almost paid for. But they are $10,000 short, so the Red Sox’s Foundation challenged the Yankees to step up to the plate and donate.

    So far there’s been no word from the Yankees on whether they’ll match the funds. Head Start says they are lobbying ESPN and other big names and they’re confident the park will be paid for.

    Come to think of it, why can’t the Yankees just give every person in the world $10,000 while they’re at it?

    They won’t do it? Oh, those nasty Yankees. Boo. Hiss.

    Everything Rosie Now For Ruiz?

    Posted by on April 24th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    From the Norwich Bulletin -

    Prior to Sunday’s the Connecticut Defenders rainout at Dodd Stadium, the visiting Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced the signing of Randy Ruiz.

    What’s the big deal, you ask?

    For starters, Ruiz. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, the first baseman/designated hitter is hard to miss. He also won the Eastern League batting title last season with the Reading Phillies.

    But what is also big on Ruiz is his strength. And the baggage associated with how he acquired said strength.

    Last season Ruiz served two suspensions after testing positive for a anabolic steroid, Stanozolo. This is the same substance that Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson used to capture gold at the 1988 Olympics before his medals were taken from him.

    Ruiz denied he ever used the drug. Instead, the Bronx-born slugger alleged his positive tests were the result of his use of Viagra.

    “I’ve been clean [ever since],” said Ruiz. “I’ve been tested three times already. I’m willing to take as many test as [baseball] wants.”

    Does this include an IQ test?

    I just hope, that while Ruiz is in Trenton, that he doesn’t get into Ramiro Pena’s head the way that Mondesi got into Soriano’s noggin (when Raul planted an attitude seed in Sori).

    Andy Phillips Is Not Going To The Minors

    Posted by on April 24th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    With Carlos Pena looming in the minors, I’ve seen more than one reference lately about Andy Phillips going to the minor leagues. It’s not going to happen. Phillips is out of minor-league options and cannot just be sent down. If the Yankees want to take him off the major-league roster, Phillips would have to clear waivers first. And, do you think that will happen?

    For Pena to make it to the Bronx, either someone has to go on the D.L., or, someone like Matt Smith or Scott Proctor comes off the big league roster. Then again, one of them probably goes for Small’s return.

    This is probably why the Yankees are giving Phillips some ABs now. They need to see if they want him or Pena on the roster. It’s going to be either/or – not both – outside of a D.L. thing.

    Yankees vs. Red Sox 2006

    Posted by on April 24th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    On May 29th of last year, I wrote:

    Actually, I think I can sum up the difference in the Yankees and the Red Sox over the last couple of years in two names: Jason Giambi and David Ortiz. Yankees have the former and the Sox have the latter.

    And, if the last 11 months have shown us anything, it’s told us that this difference no longer exists. In fact, on the whole, the Yankees can hit with the Red Sox, toe-to-toe, and stay with them all day that way.

    If anything, when it comes down to the Yankees and Red Sox now, there are three match-ups to focus on:

    1. Schilling & Beckett vs. Johnson & Mussina
    2. Wakefield & Clement vs. Wang & Chacon
    3. The Sox 5th SP vs. The Yankees 5th SP (whomever it may be in both camps)

    In “Group 1″ above it will be all about health. The side who is able to stay sound the best will win that match-up.

    I actually think “Group 2″ above is a push. Clement and Chacon should run hot and cold all year. And, Wakefield and Wang both need their signature pitch to be on – to be effective – and they both should be OK most of the time.

    This leads to “Group 3.” Will it be Wells for the Red Sox? Will it be Pavano for the Yankees? Both are injury plagued now. Will it be Lenny DiNardo for Boston and Jaret Wright for New York? That’s ugly all around. How about Jon Lester for the “Saux” and Matt DeSalvo for the “Bombers”? It’s possible – but not yet likely.

    The dark horse here could be someone like Roger Clemens. If he decides to pitch, and outside of Houston, the side that gets him has an edge over the side that does not. Then again, if either team can make a trade for another good SP – like a Dontrelle Willis, Andy Pettitte or Barry Zito – that would also be a huge edge.

    What about the bullpens (you might ask)? Right now, they’re about even too – like the hitting.

    Between Boston and New York, this season, it’s going to come down to starting pitching. And, the answer just might be “The pitcher to be named later” on both sides.

    April 23rd vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Randy Johnson was just about perfect today. Then again, he went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts against Baltimore last year. Maybe he just can’t pitch well in Toronto and just can’t pitch bad against the O’s?

    I thought Giambi’s quote after the game was interesting:

    “This is the best I’ve felt in a while, putting on the Yankee uniform. My swing has felt good this year.”

    This is the fifth year that Jason’s had that Yankees uniform. Could we be looking at a 120 RBI season from Giambi? That would be nice.

    More Than Just A Fish Story

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Today, we took the kids to the Aquarium down in Camden. (Right next to Campbell’s Field.) It was the third time there for my daughter. And, the second for my son. But, now that he’s two and she’s almost four, they really had a good time there together today – as they’re both old enough now to realize what’s there.

    Funny story: At one point, I was holding them up by a tank and a felt someone shove my right shoulder from behind. I hesitated and then turned around. Behind me was a young woman holding a baby around 18-months old. She was embarrassed and said “I’m so sorry, it was him” – meaning it was the baby who gave me the shove.

    I looked at the little guy and noticed right away that he had on a navy blue pullover wind-breaker with “Red Sox” across the front of it. So, I said to the woman “It’s OK. He probably figured out that I was a Yankees fan and that’s why he hit me.”

    I don’t think she really got it. Either that, or, she was just too surprised by the whole thing.

    Just think, the kid was probably born right around October 2004. Get used to it Yankees fans – there’s a whole new generation of Red Sox fans coming at you. And, they don’t have 86 years of losing behind them. And, they’re ready to push first and ask questions later!

    Anyone Have Some Gamma Radiation To Spare?

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From the Daily News:

    Johnson had never lost a game after being staked to a four-run lead, and yet what seemed most alarming, at least to professional observers, was his docile demeanor.

    “The thing that shocked me,” says an American League scout, “was that Randy just kind of hung his head when he was getting lit up. They were digging in, looking for his slider, hitting everything hard, and he never came up and in on them and knocked somebody down.

    “From a pitching standpoint, I just think it was one of those nights. But the thing is, his slider is his out pitch now, and I think he needs to start putting some fear in hitters with his fastball, to let them know they might pay a price for diving in on his slider. He needs to get a little meaner.”

    Funny, I must be an AL Scout – because I was thinking the same exact thing as I was watching that game in Toronto.

    More from the News:

    Even if mechanics dictate his ability to throw strikes inside, Johnson surely would be more effective if he’d send batters sprawling or even drill them, a la Clemens.

    Stottlemyre said that based on Johnson’s reputation when he became a Yankee, he expected to see more of that type of pitching.

    “He probably does not do that enough,” Stottlemyre said. “I’m not trying to be a coach now, just an observer.

    “I think that’s something the Yankees expected, that he’d be more intimidating. I think a lot of it has to do with command. But sometimes it’s better to take a chance on hitting someone, so that you don’t get hit.”

    Guidry was asked if he reminded Johnson of the need to pitch that way.

    “I try,” Guidry said with a smile.

    Do they have any of those shirts left over from last year that said “There is no trying. There is only doing or not doing”?

    Maybe Gator could use one of those?

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