• June 30th vs. The Mariners

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    You know, you can look at this game and say that the Yankees batters did a poor job through the first five innings with runners on base, Joba Chamberlain hit his pitch limit too early, and Brian Bruney was Scott Proctor-like, once again.

    But, at the end of the day, if you were at Yankee Stadium today, and sat through a 58 minute rain delay at the start of the game, and then saw all nine innings of this one, you’d be walking away from this event with a pretty big smile on your face – thanks to the win here. So, I’m going to leave it at that – it’s a good game for the Yankees…thanks to that “W” you can hang on this puppy.

    All told, the Yanks went 15-11 in the month of June – after going 17-11 in May and 12-10 in April. Again, things could be a lot worse. It will be interesting to see how July, August and September unfolds for this Yankees team.

    It’s Nice To Say Hello. Hello & How Are You?

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Raphy, over at B-R Blog & Stat of the Day, shares some stats on The Magic Gardner that would make Carole and Paula sing their fannies off…click here to see it.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/30/09

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (19)

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    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    Now I Know Who Sent The Bucky Dent Card!

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Homerun Derby has the story. (H/T to BBTF.) And, credit to Craig Calcaterra for breaking this one.

    When the Bucky Dent card (to me) arrived this past Saturday, I wondered “What’s this? Is it an anthrax card from some Red Sox fan?” (Yes, I’m kidding.)

    Seriously, I almost posted something on it, when it arrived on June 27th, but, then, I thought “What if this is some sort of bait or something? Maybe it’s better to not publically acknowledge receipt and just wait and see if someone comes foward to claim that they sent it?” And, that’s what I did – I zipped my lip and waited…

    …nice to see that I didn’t have to wait that long. Three days later, the answer is in hand. My thanks to Josh Wilker’s publisher for a nice card.

    Yanks Aquire Eric Hinske From The Pirates

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (34)

    It will be interesting to see who leaves the major league roster to make room for Hinske this evening. Considering that the Yankees gave up two suspect prospects for Hinske, there’s little downside if he doesn’t work out in New York.

    Wild Thought: Release Godzilla?

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    We’ve heard so much in Yankeeland this season about how Hideki Matsui is clogging up the Yankees roster this year because he can only D.H., etc. Just this morning, I heard Kim Jones talking about it on WFAN. So, here’s today’s wild thought. As much as I am a fan of Godzilla – and have been since 2003 – if he’s really a burden to the Yankees roster, why not release Matsui (and then replace him on the roster with a more versatile player)?

    Is it about the money? Heck, at this point, the Yankees owe Matsui another $6.5 million for this season. And, we know the Yankees have tinkled away more money on lesser players. It can’t be about not wanting to eat that cheddar.

    Is it about the fear of paying Matsui to play for another team, if he’s released, where he can come back to haunt you? Well, where is Matsui going if the Yankees let him loose?

    Godzilla cannot play the outfield – so, he’s not going to the National League. And, thanks to players such as Jason Kubel, Adam Lind, Luke Scott, Jim Thome, Hank Blalock, Ken Griffey Jr., Jack Cust, Mike Jacobs and David Ortiz, there’s a limited number of teams in the American League who can use him: The Tigers, Rays, Angels and Indians.

    Since Cleveland is going nowhere, that leaves the Tigers, Rays and Angels. Perhaps that’s why the Yankees, if they truly feel that Matsui is roster blockage, won’t cut him? New York fears Detroit, Tampa Bay or Los Angeles picking him up, with the Yankees paying the tab, and Godzilla then wrecking New York’s season somewhere down the line?

    Or, maybe, it’s the whole “keep good relations with the Japanese market” thing? But, for sure, Matsui is gone from the Yankees at the end of this season. So, is having him for three more months really that important there? In any event, that’s today’s wild thought. If it’s for the good of the team, in terms of having a better roster, should the Yankees release Hideki Matsui. What do you think?

    Cashman: Yanks Have All The Pieces In Place

    Posted by on June 30th, 2009 · Comments (12)

    Via Sam Borden -

    With the Yankees, it’s different. They have struggled as well this season (and are actually further from first place than the Mets right now), yet their needs are minimal. About an hour after Manuel delivered his (not-so-veiled) plea, Yankees GM Brian Cashman sat in the visitors’ dugout at Citi Field [Sunday] and turned questions about potential trades into a discussion of the players already on his roster.

    “We’ve got the pieces in place,” he said.

    Does that mean he isn’t interested in a trade?

    “I wouldn’t say.”

    Is he actively monitoring the trade market?

    “Of course. This is the busy season.”

    These were typical Cashman riposts but there are no glaring gaps for him to fill as the July 31 trade deadline draws closer. The Yankees could afford to add a bullpen arm, if one were available, to firm up their eighth inning situation, and names like Colorado closer Huston Street have been floating around for weeks.

    Call me crazy – and I know that some will! – but, in addition to a reliable and proven arm in the pen, I would love to see the Yankees acquire someone to play right field and provide some consistent offensive contribution along with some above-average defense. This would allow Joe Girardi to use Nick Swisher as a back-up to Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (and, when needed, Mark Teixeira). And, then, General Joe could use Melky Cabrera to spell Brett Gardner against tough lefties and use him as a defensive caddy for whomever plays left field.

    Don’t get me wrong. I know that Swisher works counts and gets walks. And, when he’s hot, Swisher can hit the ball out of the park. But, when he’s cold, he’s beyond ice cold. And, at times, Swisher takes some curious routes on fly balls. Basically, when he’s bad, the Swish Hawk is “T-Long Like.”

    At the worst, maybe it would make sense for the Yankees to pick up a player like the Rockies Seth Smith – assuming they could get him for a couple of Grade B- or C+ pitching prospects – only to have another option in right field, instead of just Swisher or Cabrera – if needed?

    Yanks Purchase Yurendell DeCaster

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Via Our Sports Central -

    Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3B Yurendell DeCaster is trading in his RedHawks pinstripes for a set of Yankees pinstripes.

    The All-Star third baseman has had his contract purchased by the New York Yankees today and will report on Tuesday to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the Triple-A affiliate for New York in the International League.

    DeCaster, 29, joined the RedHawks this spring and was arguably the top player in the Northern League this season. Entering tonight’s play, DeCaster was leading the Northern League in hits (54), doubles (14), home runs (13), RBI (43) and slugging percentage (.682). He was batting .344, good for fifth in the league, and was second in runs scored with 36.

    DeCaster was selected to the Great Plains team for the 2009 Northern League All-Star Game earlier today and was the top vote-getter in the league but will not participate in the game.

    “For my money, he is one of the best players to ever come through the Northern League, and that is the caliber of player we like to have in RedHawks uniforms” said RedHawks Manager Doug Simunic. “We knew this day was coming and we are glad he can continue his career at the Triple-A level. Hopefully we can see him in Yankee Stadium sometime soon.”

    DeCaster, far from being a kid, can play third, first, a little outfield, and, in a pinch, some second base. Perhaps he’s going to take the place of Eric Duncan, Marcos Vechionacci and Timothy Battle on the Yankees prospect list? (And, yes, I know, the Yankees finally got smart and recently released Battle.)

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/29/09

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (7)

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    Getting Your Freak On, Subways Series Style

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (19)

    Via the smart and funny Stephen Dubner with a hat to Craig Calcaterra and BBTF -

    Having now taken the family to the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ new ballpark, I find it hard to believe that any neutral observer wouldn’t agree that Citi Field is a far, far more pleasant place to spend a few hours. It is well-designed and handsome, and fan-friendly in many ways that Yankee Stadium is not. Yankee Stadium is full of pride and tradition and all that, but it is essentially a vast concrete bowl with chairs. Fill in your own blanks: Citi is to Yankee as ______ is to ______. (What comes to my mind is Google is to Microsoft.)

    Now, here’s what I really wanted to write about. Because interleague play puts fans from two teams in close proximity, you can expect a lot of fan interaction. In the section where we sat — right above the Modell’s sign in right field — the yapping between Yankees and Mets was loud but generally friendly.

    A pattern quickly emerged. The many Yankees fans regularly broke into their thunderous cheer: “Let’s go Yankees!” (clap-clap-clap-clap … clap-clap). If you are a Yankees fan (we are; but we do not hate the Mets), this was a sign of what might be called prideful hubris, or maybe hubristic pride: we can come into your stadium and rock it very, very hard.

    How’d the Mets fans respond? Succinctly. In the space where the Yankees fans did their rhythmic clapping, Mets fans shouted “Yankees suck!”

    The first 13 times or so, this was pretty funny. The two cheers fitted together nicely, like a married couple who know their comebacks well. Yes, we told the kids, it’s too bad “suck” is so commonplace and yes, it’s too bad the Mets fans can’t come up with something more clever or (God forbid) more positive, but hey …

    This pattern was repeated all night. What surprised me is that neither side found a way to improve their effort. I kept waiting for the Yankees fans to fill in their clapping with some chanting that couldn’t be hijacked by the Mets fans, and I kept waiting for the Mets fans to either be proactive in their chanting or to move beyond “Yankees suck!” But neither side budged. By the end of the game, the only people chanting were the kids in the stands, all of them up way past their bedtimes, their voices ragged and high-pitched.

    I fear not that we are teaching our children to be coarse (as these things go, suck isn’t the worst word they’ll encounter in a given day) but that we are teaching them to be uncreative and unskilled in the use of game theory.

    More and more, we hear about how Citi Field is better than the new Yankee Stadium. If Big Stein were still calling the shots today, Lonn Trost would be fired, more than likely. As far as the cheering and jeering chants, it is interesting to see such a lack of creativity. Between the Mets choking in 2007 and 2008, and the Yankees 2004 post-season and recent in-season losses to Boston, there’s material there, to pull from, for sure. And, if needed, there’s always A-Rod’s PED usage, Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up, Nick Swisher’s haircut, and David Wright’s lack of homeruns this season, if someone wanted to go in that direction too.

    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    With A Rebel Yell “Mo, Mo, Mo…”

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Via SNY’s Geico SportsNite yesterday, coverage of Mariano Rivera’s 500th career save. Here’s the clip:

    Week 12 – 2009

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    What stands out the most in my mind, this past week, is that the Tampa Bay Rays now have the best record in the American League over the last 60 days. And, on June 28th, the Rays became the fastest team ever to reach 100 homers and 100 steals by the All-Star break. It took the Rays 77 games to reach that mark – and the previous fastest were Cincinnati (1977) and Cleveland (1994), who both did it in 84 games. Watch out Yanks, the Rays are coming, and fast.

    June 28th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 29th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    You can watch baseball for the next 100 years, and, I’ll bet that you’ll never see a player get career RBI #1 and career save #500 in the same game, again. Wow.

    I think the Yankees may have gotten away with one here – as their offensive attack in this one left a little to be desired. Basically, they were no-shows for the seven innings between the first and the ninth. But, a win is a win – and any win against the Mets is a good one.

    Back to Mo, how can you not be happy for this guy right now? He, along with the rest of the Yankees, should have a fun off-day on Monday. They deserve it.

    Lastly, was it just me, or, was A-Rod extra animated in this one? What’s up with that?

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/28/09

    Posted by on June 28th, 2009 · Comments (2)

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    June 27th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 28th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    I missed this game. We took the kids to FirstEnergy Park this evening to see the Lakewood BlueClaws and Delmarva Shorebirds play some baseball. I did get to hear the end of the recap on WCBS 880 on the way home. Sounds like A.J. Burnett stuffed the Mets in this one.

    Then again, it’s not like facing the Mets, right now, is the same as having to deal with the 1978 Brewers, 1993 Tigers, or the 2003 Cardinals. In fact, in the post-game coverage that I heard, Mets manager Jerry Manuel even called his team “depleted” and then said something like needing to catch a team on a bad day in order to get a win. (Manuel also said that Burnett had better stuff when the Mets last faced the Yanks. Is that an attempted slap on his team, Burnett, or both?)

    When I got home, I checked the stats and saw that A.J. Burnett had a “Game Score” of 82 this evening. That’s pretty impressive. That’s the best Game Score posted by Burnett since he was a Blue Jay and faced the O’s on May 16, 2007. In fact, A.J. – with this game included – only has ten career starts with a Game Score of 82+ (on his resume). And, seven of those ten came when he was pitching for the Marlins.

    In any event, this is a nice win for the Yankees – as now, in the series finale, they get to play with house money.

    While at the BlueClaws game this evening, I had a chance to meet Jayson Stark and his wife Lisa. Jayson was at the ballpark to meet fans, sign autographs and promote his new book “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.” It was wonderful to meet Jayson and his wife in person – as they’re both very pleasant and down-to-earth people. Here’s a photo of my kids, me, and Jayson (along with a copy of his book):

    JaysonStarkLakewood

    Thumbing through Jayson Stark’s new book this evening, it looks like a great and entertaining chronicle of the 2008 Phillies championship run that ended a quarter-century “title” wait in Philadelphia. And, having also read and enjoyed Jayson’s first book, I’m looking forward to reading this one – and will share a review on it here once done.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/27/09

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    Nady’s Not Coming Back

    Posted by on June 27th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Via George King -

    The Post has learned Xavier Nady’s season is over and next year is in question, too.

    According to several teammates, the Yankees outfielder told them late Thursday night that his right elbow requires Tommy John surgery, a procedure that often takes 12-14 months recovery.

    Reached today, all Nady said was, “I am going to have a lot of time on my hands.”

    Nady, a free agent at the end of the season, felt something in the elbow in the third inning of a Triple-A rehab game Thursday night and removed himself two innings later. He plans on being at Citi Field today and is scheduled to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in California. Yocum performed the same surgery on Nady in 2001.

    According to the Nady, “There was no reason to do tests” today.

    Wow, a year later, that trade for Marte and Nady is not looking so good. Well, maybe, there’s a silver lining here? If the Yankees make the post-season this year, maybe they can use having Marte or Nady on the D.L. and pull one of those “K-Rod clause” moves and request permission from the commissioner’s office to replace someone on the post-season roster with a player from the minor league system, if it makes sense?

    June 26th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 26th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    I’m going to do this one machine gun style – and just let the comments fly.

  • This was the first time that I ever watched a game played at Citi Field (even on T.V.). Sure, I’ve seen clips of games, in highlights, played on YES, SNY, ESPN, The MLB Network, and the local news broadcasts – but, that’s about it. Personally, I don’t see anything special about the playing field. Sure, it’s deep in LCF-CF-RCF and there seems to be a fair amount of foul territory between the dugouts and the infield. Yet, I don’t see anything about the field that makes it standout in a Fenway, Wrigley, Camden, Jake (Progressive Field), Kauffman, PNC Park, Minute Maid, or PacBell (AT&T) kind of way.
  • Wanting to hear the lamentation of their women, I watched the last inning of this one on SNY instead of My9. But, actually, Darling, Hernandez and Cohen did a pretty good job of taking this one on the chin. (By the way, did you know that Lawrence Goldberg story about wanting to rub it in the face of his friends is a myth?)
  • Dude, how ’bout the Magic Gardner?
  • After the fourth inning, I was really starting to think that CC had a shot at a no-no. Sheffield quickly ended that in the fifth when he got a hold of that hanger. Still, as Keith Hernandez said on SNY at the end, this one was all about “Too much CC Sabathia.” Great job by the big man.
  • Was that top of the second inning fun, or what? Wright makes an error. Five batters later, Cora throws one away. And, then, next, Evans bobbles one. I sooooo wanted Luis Castillo to also make an error in that frame. It would have been awesome-cool to see the entire Mets infield make errors in the same inning against the Yankees.
  • Hey, somebody tell Ramiro Pena that it wasn’t his birthday today. El Niño sure had a party in this one, didn’t he?
  • As bad as some of the Yankees relief pitchers have been, at times, this year, Mets fans must want to puke when Elmer Dessens comes into a game. That guy is 38-years old and hasn’t been an effective pitcher since 2006. On the other hand, A-Rod enjoyed seeing him in the game.
  • By the way, Yanks were only 3 for 17 with RISP during this game – and yet scored nine runs. Good luck figuring that out.
  • Lastly, sure, it was 7-1, Yanks, in the eighth inning. But, I still got just a tad nervous when Tomko came into this game for the Yanks. Did you?
  • O.K., and, now, for a little machine gun post-game victory celebration music…

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/26/09

    Posted by on June 26th, 2009 · Comments (11)

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    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 26th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    3 Pitchers Hurt, And 3 Batters Carry, Yanks Team Stats

    Posted by on June 26th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    You can say a lot of great things about Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia – and many have said great things about it – but one of the things that I love most about it is that you can get daily updates to it during the season (where, each morning, you can update your Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to have statistics through games of the day before that morning).

    And, of course, with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, you can look at stats like Runs Created Above Average [RCAA] and Runs Saved Against Average [RSAA].

    RCAA is the difference between a player’s runs created total and the total for an average player who used the same amount of his team’s outs. And, RSAA is is the amount of runs that a pitcher saved versus what an average pitcher would have allowed.

    So, how are the Yankees looking, through last night’s game, in terms of RCAA and RSAA? Via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia here are the numbers:

    BATTER	       RCAA	PA	PITCHER	       RSAA	 IP
    Mark Teixeira	22	312	Alfredo Aceves	9	33.1
    Johnny Damon	17	301	C.C. Sabathia	9	102.0
    Derek Jeter	11	319	J. Chamberlain	6	75.2
    Nick Swisher	6	281	Mariano Rivera	5	29.1
    Jorge Posada	6	176	Phil Coke	4	32.1
    Hideki Matsui	4	232	David Robertson	3	16.1
    Alex Rodriguez	4	185	A.J. Burnett	3	87.0
    Robinson Cano	2	307	Brian Bruney	2	11.0
    Melky Cabrera	0	223	Nick Swisher	1	1.0
    Brett Gardner	0	170	Andy Pettitte	1	90.1
    Xavier Nady	-1	29	Mark Melancon	0	3.1
    Kevin Cash	-2	28	Phil Hughes	0	45.1
    Jose Molina	-2	49	Edwar Ramirez	-1	17.1
    Fran. Cervelli	-3	68	Jon. Albaladejo	-3	21.0
    Angel Berroa	-3	24	Brett Tomko	-3	14.1
    Cody Ransom	-5	58	Jose Veras	-4	25.2
    Ramiro Pena	-5	83	Damaso Marte	-6	5.1
    				Ant. Claggett	-7	1.2
    				Chien-Ming Wang	-23	31.1
    

    As you can see, when you take away the ugly results of Chien-Ming Wang, Anthony Claggett and Damaso Marte, on the whole, the Yankees pitching has not been terrible this season (to date). In fact, again, on the whole, sans those three it looks pretty good.

    The Yankees offense, on the other hand, to date, has been a three-man attack of Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter. If you take those three out of the picture, as a whole, the Yankees offense has been just league average. Clearly, it’s time for some guys other than Teixeira, Damon and Jeter to step-up with the sticks for New York.

    Finding Ways To Live From Death

    Posted by on June 26th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    The world is still reacting to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson – who both passed away yesterday. And, that should continue for a while. Remember how long the media played with the passing of Anna Nicole Smith?

    Me? I’m not really thinking about them – as, yesterday, I found out about another person passing away, suddenly, and it’s hitting me harder than the news of Jackson and Fawcett.

    (more…)

    June 25th @ The Braves

    Posted by on June 25th, 2009 · Comments (19)

    He’s back!

    No, not Cody Ransom – although he’s back too. Yes, A-Rod’s mashing the ball again. Jeter and Damon were ripping in this one too.

    Then again, Derek Lowe, coming into this game, had an ERA of 5.46 and a BA allowed of .306 over his last 5 starts (covering 29.6 IP and 131 Opp PA).

    And, in the end, the Yankees did allow an 8-1 lead after 4 1/2 innings turn into a 11-7 win where the Braves had the tying run on deck in the bottom of the 9th inning. That’s not too pretty.

    Hey, bottom line, if you have to play a 9-inning game, in June, in Atlanta, in 90 degree heat, over three hours and forty nine minutes, it’s better to win it than to lose it, right?

    And, it’s now off to Metsville for three games. Let’s hope there’s no let-down in Camp Girardi for this set in Queens.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/25/09

    Posted by on June 25th, 2009 · Comments (9)

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    Coming Soon To Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Kei “To The City” Igawa?

    Posted by on June 25th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    Meant to comment on this yesterday from the Times Leader:

    Kei Igawa will have to wait a few more days before he gets another opportunity to enter the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre record book.

    One win away from equaling the franchise record for most career pitching wins, Igawa suffered his first loss in his last six starts – a tough 6-1 loss to Syracuse on Tuesday night at PNC Field.

    Igawa entered the game with 25 career wins, one shy of the franchise record held by former SWB Red Barons pitcher Evan Thomas. Igawa (6-2) scattered six hits and allowed four runs – just two of them earned – in six innings against the Chiefs. The left-hander, who was the victim of a costly error in the sixth inning, also struck out six and walked two.

    Do they have a “Key To The City” in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? If they do, maybe they’ll give it “Kei” when he breaks the record? If Igawa does set the record, will the folks back in Japan think he’s now a success? Man, the Hanshin Tigers must still be laughing their tails off on this one.

    June 24th @ The Braves

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Finally!

    A win! Seems like forever, don’t it?

    Hey, I guess the lack of offense was Joe Girardi’s fault? As soon as he was tossed from the game, and Tony Pena took over, the Yankees bats came alive. (Yes, I’m just kidding with this one.) By the way, was that a terrible call by Bill Welke, or what? Brett Gardner was back safe by a mile. General Joe had to get run on that one.

    Great game by Joba. Then again, it was expected – since he had an extra day’s rest between today’s game and his last start, and, if you’ve been paying attention, you know what that means.

    And, nice nights at the plate for Damon, Teixeira, A-Rod and Swisher. Now, of course, the key is…doing it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…

    Lastly, was it just me, or, did Francisco Cervelli’s homerun trot seem like it was under 15 seconds?

    Me, Dad & Thurm

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    I became a Yankees fan in 1973. And, my first favorite Yankees player was Thurman Munson.

    In the summer of 1975, I came down with a bad case of mononucleosis. Due to that, I was housebound for eight weeks at the end of the summer with a fever. That’s a tough break for a 12-year old (as I was at that time). I caught it, of all places, in Little League.

    Back in that day, during games, we all shared the same water jug. Basically, it was a big empty plastic one-gallon milk jug that the coach filled with water before the game and kept in the dugout. By the third inning or so, the water was usually piss warm. But, that’s what we used, back then, to keep hydrated during the game – with each player on the team taking a swig from the communal jug when we needed to wet our whistle. I guess we were all too stupid in the ’70′s to understand the concept of backwash? In any event, that’s where I caught mono.

    My father and I have a great relationship – and always had one. But, it was once I got into baseball where it took on another fun dimension. When I was young, just like two baseball players, we would needle each other – as much as possible. (And, this was when “needle” meant something different from what it means today in baseball.) When I was twelve, my father was thirty-eight. So, there we were: Two young guys, both Yankees fans, doing what guys do when they’re hanging out during a baseball season.

    Now, even though my father was/is a Yankees fan, the aforementioned urge to bust chops on his son superceded his outward loyality to the team. And, since Thurman Munson was my favorite player, back in the day, any chance that “Pop” had to ride me about Munson, and/or my devotion towards him, it was coming – in a good natured, loving, way…of course.

    So, here I am, in August of 1975, trapped in the house and losing my mind because of my illness – and, remember, these were the days where T.V. in New York was limited to six commerical channels, and that’s it! – bored beyond belief. And, one afternoon, the mail arrives with a letter addressed to me – but with a return address of my father’s employer.

    That was strange. Nonetheless, I opened the envelope and found a note inside that read “To Steve, Thanks for being such a good fan. My best regards, Thurman Munson, N,Y. Yankees.”

    Hey, I was twelve – but I wasn’t brainless, at least totally. Seeing the envelope, with my dad’s place of work as the return address, I figured that my father was pranking me with the letter – and I tossed it into the kitchen trash can.

    A few hours later, my father came home from work and I quickly went at him with (something like) “Nice try there today. I got that letter that you wrote – pretending to be Munson. You didn’t fool me. I threw it out.” Hearing this, he said to me “You did what? That wasn’t a fake! Where is it? Did you really toss it?”

    Since my older sister and I were the only ones at home during the day, sans when my mother came home on her work lunch-break to check on us, there wasn’t a lot of garbage being created – and, when my father got home, the “Munson letter” was still near the top of the trash in the can. (My sister is 4 1/2 years older than me – but, she was skipped twice in grammar school. So, by this time, she was hanging with an older crowd and out of the house during parts of the day, enjoying her summer.)

    Since the letter was retrievable, I was able to pull it out of the trash pile and show my father. Nonetheless, I still didn’t believe him – even after what he said.

    But, as I stood there, in the kitchen, with the rescued letter in hand, he then explained the whole thing to me – in detail.

    Since I was practically bedridden, and so down in the dumps, he took a shot and wrote a letter to Munson – explaining how his 12-year old kid was sick in the house, losing his summer, and how all he (meaning my dad) heard, all day long, day after day, was “Munson-this” and “Munson-that.” And, in the letter, my father explained how it would be a huge thrill for me to have his autograph. Further, to make it simple, with his letter, my father enclosed a blank sheet of paper, a pen, and a self-addressed stamped envelope – and that’s why, when the letter arrived to me, it came in an envelope with his employer’s information on the return address (as he was at work when he wrote and sent the letter, etc.).

    Well, while I don’t remember for sure, I probably soiled myself, a little, when it all finally sank in that this was an actual letter from Thurman Munson. And, to think how close I came to tossing it away. (Thank the baseball gods for the fact that, when I put it in the trash, I didn’t tear it up or place it on something wet or that would stain it.) Keep in mind that I was 12-years old here – and how important your baseball idols are to you at an age like that.

    I quickly added that letter to the Munson shrine that I had going in my room. The “shrine” was a Snoopy Bulletin Board where I had thumb-tacked Munson’s Topps baseball cards from 1973, 1974 and 1975 – along with some photos of Thurman that I had cut out of the newspaper, programs and yearbooks. (Back then, we didn’t know you were supposed to save those things and keep them pristine.) It wasn’t until Munson’s death that I eventually moved all that stuff into a scrapbook. Of course, by then, the autographed letter had yellowed with age.

    But, today, I still have it. Here it is, cleaned up a bit via a photo editing program:

    [Click on image to enlarge]

    On my way over to see my father this past Saturday, to celebrate Father’s Day with him, a day early, I thought about this story for the first time in a long time. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool. And, I hope, someday, I’ll have a similar type baseball/Yankees-related event that I can share with my kids (now ages 5 and 7) that they can look back on, thirty four years later, and enjoy it as much then as when it first happened…like me, now.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/24/09

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (30)

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