• Ryan Dempster

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (5)

    Seems like the Yankees have an interest in Dempster, according to some reports.

    I hope they know what they are doing – if it’s true.

    Dempster is a good citizen and he’s having a standout year.  But, his career numbers against A.L. teams is not pretty.

    This could be another A.J. Burnett, Javy Vazquez, Chan Ho Park moment for Brian Cashman.

    Travel Baseball

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (28)

    My 8-year old son has been asked to play for a 8U Travel Baseball team – starting this Fall.

    From all reports, the organization he’s been asked to join is very good.  In fact, they went undefeated this past Spring and have not lost a game yet this Summer (to date).

    He’s very excited to be asked to play for the team.  So, I am extremely happy for him.

    But, at the same time, I am wondering if there’s more to this than I am aware?  I know that it’s a commitment.

    Anyone out there have any experience with being on a travel team, or as a parent of a player on a travel team, that they are willing to share?

    Yankees Since June 28th & Before May 22nd

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (4)

    The New York Yankees are 14-14 in their last 28 games.

    And, in their first 42 games of the season, they were 21-21.

    Luckily for the Yankees, in between these two blocks of time, they had a run of 32 games where they went 25-7.

    So, why were the Yankees able to play so great during those 32 games and only .500-ball in the 42 before it and in the 28 games since that time?

    A good portion of that was when the Yankees went 10-0 from June 8th through June 18th, all against National League teams.

    It’s too bad the Yankees don’t get to play any more inter-league games this season.

    Kendrys Morales Joins Baerga & Bellhorn

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (1)

    Via ESPN -

    Kendrys Morales broke out of a slump in a big way.

    He homered [last night] from both sides of the plate during a nine-run sixth inning, capping the burst with a grand slam that sent the Los Angeles Angels romping past the Texas Rangers 15-8 Monday night.

    “I’m very excited since it’s not an easy thing to do,” said Morales, a Cuban native who spoke through an interpreter. “They were good pitches, perhaps mistakes they made. I felt comfortable, and I was able to connect.”

    Morales became the third switch-hitter in major league history to homer as a lefty and righty in the same inning. Carlos Baerga did it for Cleveland in [April] 1993 and Mark Bellhorn of the Chicago Cubs duplicated the feat in [August] 2002.

    The Angels won the opener of the four-game series and closed within four games of AL West-leading Texas.

    Morales connected for a two-run shot in the sixth as a lefty off Texas starter Roy Oswalt that put the Angels ahead 5-3. Morales then hit a grand slam off Robbie Ross from the right side.

    Morales became the 25th player in AL history to hit two home runs in the same inning.

    It is interesting that this never happened before 1993.

    Six Father-Son Baseball First Rounders

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Great stuff via Jerry Crasnick -

    When the Pirates chose [Neil] Walker with the 11th overall pick in 2004, the family gained a rare distinction. Tom and Neil [Walker] joined Jeff and Sean Burroughs, Ben and Tom Grieve and Steve and Nick Swisher as the only father-son combinations to go in the first round of the draft. In recent years, John Mayberry Jr. and Delino DeShields Jr. increased the father-son club from four to six.

    Of course, there may have been some other first rounders who had fathers who played in the majors before they started drafting players…

    A-Rod Is Enjoying His Summer Vacation

    Posted by on July 31st, 2012 · Comments (15)

    There may be no “I” in “team” but it seems there is a “U” in “douche” when it comes to Alex Rodriguez…

    Via the Post -

    Injured slugger Alex Rodriguez may be out of the Yankees lineup with a fractured hand, but he still showed some team spirit in the Hamptons over the weekend. The third baseman was seen hitting Southampton’s Omni Health Club — along with his buff gal pal Torrie Wilson — sporting an appropriately blue-and-white cast. Away from the gym, A-Rod hit the social scene — he was seen dining at Southampton’s 75 Main with his kids, then chatting with jet-setting New York State Sen. Malcolm Smith and publicist Todd Shapiro outside. “He was super friendly, even though so many people were going up to him to take pictures,” said a spy. “He stopped and posed for everyone.”

    And, via the News -

    What’s the key to a speedy recovery from a broken hand? A weekend in the Hamptons.

    Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was spotted in the Hamptons over the weekend with his new fashion accessory — a blue (but not quite Yankees blue) cast on his left hand.

    Rodriguez, who suffered the broken hand, while the Yankees were facing the Mariners in Seattle last week, visited with the Bombers’ physician Thursday. But the team still has no firm timetable for his return.

    CC Sabathia was on WFAN this morning and he was asked about these news reports on A-Rod. Specifically, CC was asked if players are prohibited from staying with the team and being in the ballpark when on the disabled list.

    Sabathia said, when he was disabled earlier this year, he came to the park everyday to watch the games and support the team. Obviously, A-Rod doesn’t feel the same way.

    Hey, by the way, what ever happened to that A-Rod who was a supposed “leader” on the Yankees?

    Roy Cullenbine

    Posted by on July 30th, 2012 · Comments (1)

    Interesting career.

    I wonder what kind of salary he would have made in today’s game?

    With A Rebel Yell, Tex Cried “No More, No More, No More!”

    Posted by on July 30th, 2012 · Comments (5)

    Via the Daily News -

    Mark Teixeira makes it all sound very mysterious.

    He wasn’t talking about his 0-for-5 on Sunday night, or the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Red Sox. The Yankees may have hit a bit of a lull here, losing seven of their last 10, but their lead in the AL East is still too big to pretend they’re in any trouble.

    No, this is about Teixeira’s turnaround to his season, and what led to it. It’s about his hot July, in which he has driven in 27 runs, the most in the majors entering Sunday, and how he finally defied a voice from above to get there, taking a stand about who he is as a hitter.

    It was a little more than a year ago, at about the time Teixeira, a switch hitter, had 25 home runs by the end of June, when he says someone of prominence in the Yankee organization essentially insisted that he stop trying to pull everything as a lefthanded hitter, and start using the whole field in an effort to boost his batting average.

    “It wasn’t my decision,’’ he said on Sunday.

    Teixeira doesn’t want to say who it was, except to say that it wasn’t hitting coach Kevin Long. Joe Girardi indicated on Sunday that it wasn’t him, saying it was a general feeling in the organization, and GM Brian Cashman said flatly that it wasn’t him.

    It’s hard to imagine who else of importance would have gone to Teixeira, but the Yankee first baseman made it clear it was more than a request. And, in retrospect, he’s not happy about it.

    “Hey, listen, halfway through last season I was on pace for 50 home runs and 130 RBI,’’ he said, “and I had people telling me, ‘you need to hit the ball the other way.’ I probably shouldn’t have listened to them but I try to please the people that I work for, and it didn’t work out.’’

    Asked if he felt he had a choice in the matter, Teixeira was emphatic: “I was told to do something so I tried it,’’ he said.

    It sounds like something George Steinbrenner would have done in his heyday, but Hal Steinbrenner, the new big boss, steers completely clear from such on-the-field baseball matters.

    Wherever the order came from, it was based on Teixeira’s declining batting average. For much of his career he was a .300 or near-.300 hitter, but in 2010 his average fell to .256, and last season, even after he tried to stop pulling the ball so much when he hit lefthanded, he wound up at .248.

    Teixeira, who is now batting .258, says he doesn’t understand such fuss over his average, since he continued to put up big production numbers, hitting 39 home runs with 111 RBI last season.

    “It’s all about producing runs,’’ he said. “I’d love to hit .300 every year. It would make everybody happy, but I’d much rather drive in 100 runs every year.

    “With the short porch here, why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of that? I’ve played in ballparks where you get rewarded in center field and left-center, but here the ball doesn’t carry to center and left-center. It’s 399 feet to the alley in left-center. It’s a big park that way.

    “I tried to do it the other way in the second half last season and again this season, and the numbers weren’t good. Early in the season, I was swinging at pitches middle-away and hitting lazy fly balls to left or ground balls to short. I’d rather take that pitch and wait for a mistake. I want to do damage.’’

    Not Long, Girardi or Cashman?

    The Yankees Last 10, 20, & 30 Games

    Posted by on July 30th, 2012 · Comments (3)

    The New York Yankees record in their last 10 games is:  3-7

    And, their record in the last 20 games is: 11-9

    Lastly, in their last 30 games, the record is:  17-13

    It would be nice if they start trending in a different direction, no?

    Trenton Fun-der

    Posted by on July 29th, 2012 · Comments (3)

    My son (who is 8-years old) and I went to the Trenton Thunder double-header last night.

    Man, did we have fun!

    Before the game, Vidal Nuno, J.R. Murphy, David Adams, Walter Ibarra, Kevin Mahoney, Luke Murton, Melky Mesa and Rob Segedin all signed a ball for my son. And, Yadil Mujica tossed my son a ball from the field after he was done playing catch. All, very, very, cool stuff for a kid.

    There’s also a picture of me and my son on the Thunder website – if you want to go and look for it (and think you can find it).

    It’s been a while since we went to a Thunder game. But, I suspect that it won’t be as long until our next time there.

    Art “Pinky” Deras

    Posted by on July 28th, 2012 · Comments (1)

    More on him via a Detroit News feature from a couple of years ago -

    “Gifted, phenomenal, amazing.” Tom Paciorek, the longtime major league outfielder, kept using those words, but not about one of his numerous All-Star teammates in the major leagues. Paciorek, who started his career on the fields of Hamtramck, was talking about Art Deras.

    Or, as many of that era knew him, “Pinky” Deras.

    “He was just better than the rest of us, it’s that simple,” said Paciorek, who played on a national title-winning Hamtramck Pony League team with Deras in 1961. “I say this to everybody who listens to me, and I’m not the only one to think or say this: Pinky was the greatest 12-year-old ballplayer who ever lived.”

    It was Deras who led Hamtramck to the 1959 Little League World Series title. It remains the only Michigan team to win.

    “We were good, but Pinky just had that much more talent,” said Mark Modich, a teammate of Deras’ from age 9 through 18 on various Hamtramck teams.

    “Artie was just a little bigger, taller, stronger. You’d look at us and we were like runts. He was a whole head bigger.

    “He had a lot of talent for that age.”

    Deras’ exploits are chronicled in the documentary, “The Legend of Pinky Deras: The Greatest Little-Leaguer There Ever Was,” which will premiere Monday night at the Hamtramck Community Center.

    The 64-year-old Deras, however, isn’t comfortable talking about himself or his Little League exploits.

    “It’s what our team, what we all accomplished,” said Deras, a retired Warren police officer who lives in Sterling Heights and happens to be a Little League father these days.

    But the accomplishments of Deras can’t be overlooked.

    Little League officials in South Williamsport recognize Deras as one of the best players in history in publications and records regarding the tournament. During that 1959 championship season, Deras had an 18-0 record with 16 shutouts and 10 no-hitters. He struck out 298 in 108 innings.

    “You couldn’t see the ball,” said Paciorek, who played against Deras in Little League. “He had such a fastball — there was no such thing as a radar gun back then — but his fastball would be the equivalent to a 90 or 100 mph fastball, given the distance (to the plate), no doubt about it.”

    And at the plate?

    Deras hit .641 with 33 home runs and 112 RBIs

    Deras figures he was about 6-foot in those days, solid and well-built, and says he played baseball in the summer from morning until the sun disappeared.

    “In those days, everyone played,” Deras said. “It wasn’t like these days when you have the video games, the phones, and everything else these kids have. Back then, we didn’t have anything to take away our attention. It was just baseball.

    “That’s all we would do. It kept us out of trouble.”

    Only two cities have ever won both the Little League and Pony League World Series.

    Marietta, Ga., is one. Hamtramck is the other.

    “A lot of people are surprised to know that,” said Stan Nalepa, a teammate of Deras’ on the Pony League team. “We’re very proud of that fact. We had a close-knit group and we remain that today.”

    Can you imagine the hype around such a player today? Sadly, it did not work out for Deras as a pro.

    Meet The New Phil Hughes

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (6)

    The sauce is no longer so secret.

    With an ERA of 2.77 over his last 9 starts, it seems to be working for Phil…

    Bosox G.M. Says Team Not Quitting On 2012

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (11)

    Via WEEI.com -

    Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, during an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, said he’s confident the team can turn its fortunes around and make the playoffs without mortgaging the future.

    Cherington said the baseball operations staff has been active and will continue to be so leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline. The Sox play the first-place Yankees in New York this weekend.

    “We spend more time in the room talking with each other about deals, and maybe have 30 or 40 phone calls with other teams throughout the course of the day,” he said. “I assume that will continue, and the subject matter of those phone calls will depend some on what other teams do and some on what we do this weekend.”

    Cherington stressed that the Sox are well within contention for the playoffs.

    “When we look at where we are in the standings, I guess particularly the teams that are right ahead of us in the wild card chase, we don’t believe that any of those teams are better than us, or necessarily more talented than us. So in that sense we’re not of the mindset of giving in on anything. We want to try to win, and if there’s ways to improve our chances of winning and catching those teams, we want to do that. You have to be smart about it. You have to gauge the potential return you’re getting on a deal relative to where you are.

    “Like I said, we are where we are. We’re 49-50. We feel this is as good a team as the other teams that are sort of clustered right ahead of us. We also have to be mindful that you have two months left and we’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, and we’ve got to be smart about giving up too many long-term assets to try to get a little better the next two months. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to improve the team, and do it in a wise manner and a prudent manner. We’ll definitely work to do that.”

    Added Cherington: “It’s an unusual position for us to be in. That’s the truth. Our approach at the deadline most every year that I’ve been here in the front office has been pretty clear. We’re trying to improve the team. This deadline is going to take more of a nuanced approach, but we’re certainly still focused on 2012 and doing everything we can to win as many games as we can this year.”

    Josh Beckett has become a focal point of fans’ frustration with the underachieving Sox, but Cherington said the team is more focused on adding players.

    “Taking Josh Beckett off this team is not necessarily improving things,” he said. “We need to add, we need to improve the rotation, if anything — improve internally or add to the rotation. I think we’re sort of stuck in neutral if we start taking guys out of the rotation who are good major league pitchers.”

    Related, when was the last time that a Yankees/Red Sox series in late July had as little “buzz” as this weekend’s match-up?

    Starling Marte Goes Boom On First Pitch

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Yesterday, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte became the 13th player since 2000 to homer on the first pitch he saw in the Majors. And, that includes Mark Saccomanno – who should not be confused with Bob Sacamano.

    Barry Bonds Cycling Down

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (3)

    The story.

    He’s not the first.  I remember Jeff Nelson taking up biking and really slimming down after he retired.

    What Do Derek Jeter & Jay Jaffe Have In Common?

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (3)

    Strange encounters with Logan Morrison.

    Click here for the story on Jaffe. And, via Yanks Go Yard, here is the story with Jeter.

    In a scene from Showtime’s “The Franchise”, Miami Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison stands with a camera crew greeting fans at the top of a set of escalator steps. Morrison was waiting for Hall of Famer George Brett, his childhood idol, when up comes future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. LoMo called out, “Hey Jeet, how’ya doing man,” to the New York Yankees shortstop. With Morrison’s hand outstretched, Jeter responded courteously by shaking Morrison’s hand, but obviously had no idea who Morrison is as he just kept walking by.

    The scene transpired at some point in the pre-season, as the Marlins were the subject of the second season of the Showtime series.

    Give LoMo credit for laughing it off. Who knows if Jeter had ever met Morrison in a uniform, let alone in street clothes. This wasn’t exactly Jeter and Morrison meeting on the diamond, where Jeter may have recognized the popular Marlins outfielder.

    Jeter, one of the most popular players ever to play the game, contends with people calling out his name everywhere he goes. Coming off a plane and heading wherever, who could expect Jeter to be aware that he’d be put on the spot.

    Anyway, Jeter did provide Morrison with a handshake before moving on, thus maintaining his “good guy” image. Place Jeter among the few people who enjoy baseball not following Morrison on Twitter or apparently anywhere else for that matter.

    For a young guy, Morrison sure does have a knack for finding himself in the middle of some interesting things.

    Everybody Wang Fun Tomorrow

    Posted by on July 27th, 2012 · Comments (2)

    Chien-Ming Wang will be pitching in Trenton tomorrow. Via PennLive.com -

    Rain suspended Thursday night’s Harrisburg Senators game at Trenton’s Waterfront Park.

    The Senators leading 3-1 in the middle of the second inning, the game will resume Friday night at 6:05.

    After completing the nine-inning game, the teams will play a seven-inning contest Friday night. Then they’ll play a doubleheader Saturday night starting at 5:05 and finish off the five-game Eastern League series with a 5:05 p.m. game Sunday.

    Harrisburg (51-53) fell behind 1-0 in the first but had just rallied for three runs in the second against the host Thunder (60-43). Highlights were Brian Goodwin’s two-run single and Jeff Kobernus’ RBI single, both with two outs.

    Danny Rosenbaum started for the Senators but will not continue Friday.

    Trevor Holder will pick up the action in the bottom of the second, and Kevin Pucetas will start the nightcap for manager Matthew LeCroy’s bunch.

    Saturday’s starters will be rehabbing Washington Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and spot starter Ryan Tatusko. Ryan Perry is slated to start Sunday.

    Wang pitched the very first Yankees game that my kids ever saw (back in 2007). That seems like such a long time ago now…

    Ending Career With A 100+ Game Season With The Yankees

    Posted by on July 26th, 2012 · Comments (1)

    It’s a smaller list than I thought:

    Rk Player G Year Age Tm PA R 2B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
    1 Bobby Richardson 149 1966 30 NYY 648 71 21 7 42 6 .251 .280 .330
    2 Chili Davis 146 1999 39 NYY 554 59 25 19 78 4 .269 .366 .445
    3 Mickey Mantle 144 1968 36 NYY 547 57 14 18 54 6 .237 .385 .398
    4 Paul O’Neill 137 2001 38 NYY 563 77 33 21 70 22 .267 .330 .459
    5 Joe Sewell 135 1933 34 NYY 606 87 18 2 54 2 .273 .361 .323
    6 Buddy Hassett 132 1942 30 NYY 581 80 16 5 48 5 .284 .325 .364
    7 Bernie Williams 131 2006 37 NYY 462 65 29 12 61 2 .281 .332 .436
    8 Tino Martinez 131 2005 37 NYY 348 43 9 17 49 2 .241 .328 .439
    9 Dave Fultz 129 1905 30 NYY 482 49 13 0 42 44 .232 .308 .277
    10 Don Mattingly 128 1995 34 NYY 507 59 32 7 49 0 .288 .341 .413
    11 Johnny Sturm 124 1941 25 NYY 568 58 17 3 36 3 .239 .293 .300
    12 Scott Brosius 120 2001 34 NYY 478 57 25 13 49 3 .287 .343 .446
    13 Gil McDougald 119 1960 32 NYY 387 54 16 8 34 2 .258 .337 .401
    14 Hersh Martin 117 1945 35 NYY 479 53 18 7 53 4 .267 .368 .392
    15 Joe DiMaggio 116 1951 36 NYY 482 72 22 12 71 0 .263 .365 .422
    16 Jorge Posada 115 2011 39 NYY 387 34 14 14 44 0 .235 .315 .398
    17 Tony Kubek 109 1965 29 NYY 370 26 5 5 35 1 .218 .258 .295
    18 Jack Reed 106 1963 30 NYY 82 18 3 0 1 5 .205 .293 .274
    19 Herm McFarland 103 1903 33 NYY 423 41 16 5 45 13 .243 .333 .378
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/26/2012.

    .
    Jack Reed? Really?

    Zack Greinke Will Be Traded

    Posted by on July 26th, 2012 · Comments (7)

    Source.

    The Rangers have to be the favorite to land him, no?

    Honus Lisa

    Posted by on July 26th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    This is story is about two weeks old, but, I still can’t get over it. What a find!

    More on it:

    Karl Kissner picked up a soot-covered cardboard box that had been under a wooden dollhouse in his grandfather’s attic. Taking a look inside, he saw hundreds of baseball cards bundled with twine. They were smaller than the ones he was used to seeing.

    But some of the names were familiar: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner.

    Then he put the box on a dresser and went back to digging through the attic.

    It wasn’t until two weeks later that he learned that his family had come across what experts say is one of the biggest, most exciting finds in the history of sports card collecting, a discovery worth perhaps millions.

    The cards are from an extremely rare series issued around 1910. Up to now, the few known to exist were in so-so condition at best, with faded images and worn edges. But the ones from the attic in the town of Defiance are nearly pristine, untouched for more than a century. The colors are vibrant, the borders crisp and white.

    “It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic,” Kissner said.

    Sports card experts who authenticated the find say they may never again see something this impressive.

    “Every future find will ultimately be compared to this,” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator.

    The best of the bunch — 37 cards — are expected to bring a total of $500,000 when they are sold at auction in August during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. There are about 700 cards in all that could be worth up to $3 million, experts say. They include such legends as Christy Mathewson and Connie Mack.

    Kissner and his family say the cards belonged to their grandfather, Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. Hench ran a meat market in Defiance, and the family suspects he got them as a promotional item from a candy company that distributed them with caramels. They think he gave some away and kept others.

    “We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them,” Kissner said. “They remained there frozen in time.”

    After Hench and his wife died, two of his daughters lived in the house. Jean Hench kept the house until she died last October, leaving everything inside to her 20 nieces and nephews. Kissner, 51, is the youngest and was put in charge of the estate. His aunt was a pack rat, and the house was filled with three generations of stuff.

    They found calendars from the meat market, turn-of-the-century dresses, a steamer trunk from Germany and a dresser with Grandma’s clothes neatly folded in the drawers.

    Months went by before they even got to the attic. On Feb. 29, Kissner’s cousin Karla Hench pulled out the dirty green box with metal clips at the corners and lifted the lid.

    Not knowing whether the cards were valuable, the two cousins put the box aside. But Kissner decided to do a little research. The cards were at his office in the restaurant he owns when he realized they might have something. He immediately took them across the street and put them in a bank vault.

    Still not knowing whether the cards were real, they sent eight to expert Peter Calderon at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, which recently sold the baseball that rolled through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series for $418,000.

    Calderon said his first words were “Oh, my God.”

    “I was in complete awe,” he said. “You just don’t see them this nice.”

    The cards are from what is known as the E98 series. It is not clear who manufactured them or how many were produced, but the series consists of 30 players, half of them Hall of Famers.

    The experts at Heritage Auctions checked out the family’s background, the age of the home and the history of the meat market. They looked at the cards and how they were printed.

    “Everything lines up,” said Chris Ivy, the company’s director of sports auctions.

    They then sent all the cards to Professional Sports Authenticator, which had previously authenticated fewer than 700 E98s. The Ohio cards were the finest examples from the E98 series the company had ever seen.

    (more…)

    Albert Walter Turns 68

    Posted by on July 26th, 2012 · Comments (7)

    Via the Star-Ledger two days ago -

    Sparky Lyle pulled off his Somerset Patriots cap, ran a hand through his long silver hair and eyed the lineup card.

    The everyday perks — microwavable cheese macaroni, a Milky Way bar and a pack of Winston cigarettes — are sprawled out in front of him like a hand of cards on his desk. A jug of Tito’s Vodka sits in the closet.

    Baseball great Sparky Lyle talks about managing the Somerset Patriots and nearing 1,000 wins Baseball great Sparky Lyle talks about managing the Somerset Patriots and nearing 1,000 wins Cy Young winner Sparky Lyle, the only manager the Somerset Patriots have ever known, is one win away from 1,000 victories in the Atlantic League, a dazzling accomplishment considering many teams — and nearly all players — don’t survive from year to year. His team faced the Sugar Land Skeeters Monday night but were defeated 5-4. Lyle and his team once again face the Skeeters, and will play a Tuesday double-header at their home ballpark in Bridgewater.

    What’s missing are arms. One of his pitchers retired, another fled to the Taiwanese league, a third was signed to a Major League farm team and a fourth broke his middle finger playing with his young niece.

    Life as a manager in the Atlantic League means making due, but enduring is Sparky Lyle’s strong suit. It has been more than 30 years since the days he played beside Munson and Reggie, and sparred with Steinbrenner. In 1977, he became the first American League reliever to win the Cy Young award. He had a salty look at a time when Yankee players could grow their hair long and go unshaven. He played in the majors for 16 years for five teams and has now managed the Patriots for nearly as long.

    Today, in his 15th season as the only manager in Somerset Patriots history, he will go for his 1,000th career victory — a stunning achievement in the Atlantic League, where players are limited to one-year contracts, and eight other franchises have disbanded or switched leagues since the independent Atlantic League was formed in 1998.

    Lyle has managed 401 players in Somerset, including the group that will take the field in his 1,881st game today. He has the most wins, the most league championships (five), the most playoff appearances (nine), the most single-season victories (86) and the most trips to the championship round (eight). He is the team’s identity, a constant through the years. His face is plastered all over TD Bank Stadium, and a massive, shaggy canine mascot named Sparkee mugs for photos with young fans and dances on the dugout.

    This daily grind, the art of piecing together a group of major league hopefuls and castaways, was never a part of the plan when he finished a 16-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and White Sox. Now, it seems to fuel him. Many managers might treat the Atlantic League as a bus stop on the way to a Double-A coaching job. Lyle presses for another win, another title.

    He looks like a manager, a life of baseball weathered in his skin and in his bones. He bristled as he tried to figure out how he would deal with a pitching staff depleted by injury and defections.

    “We’ve been trying to get a halfway decent lineup all year,” he said. Then, offering up a choice cuss word, with a resigned tone he asked a question to no one in particular. “Where are we right now?”

    The baseball man still drawn to the game’s inner workings lives alongside another part of Lyle. He would be just as happy, he said, on a fishing dock near his South Jersey home, 75 miles from the Bridgewater stadium.

    “I’m one of these guys that time off actually means that. I don’t have a problem just sittin’ around and doin’ nothing. I’m good at that,” he said.

    But there is a man inside the manager, someone who found the game growing up in in DuBois, Pa. He is the son of a carpenter and a seamstress who worked in a coffin factory. He regularly struck out 16 and 17 batters each Saturday at the Legion Post and was discovered by a Baltimore Orioles scout at 20 years old.

    After five years in Boston, he landed with the Yankees in 1972. His roots in New Jersey are now deep. He has three grown sons and five grandchildren. Two days ago, Lyle, still an outsized character, turned 68 years old.

    Gosh, I love this guy.

    When Did Maryland Become Venezuela?

    Posted by on July 26th, 2012 · Comments (4)

    The story yesterday on Cal Ripken’s mother via the AP -

    Cal Ripken Jr.’s mother told a neighbor that the man who kidnapped her at gunpoint, tied her up and blindfolded her didn’t seem to know she was part of a famous baseball family as the two drove around together in her car.

    The gunman, who has not been found, forced 74-year-old Vi Ripken into her silver Lincoln Continental Tuesday morning and she was found bound but unharmed in the back seat about 24 hours later near her home in Aberdeen outside Baltimore, police said.

    Cal Ripken Jr.’s 74-year-old mother was found unharmed in her car near Baltimore Wednesday after she was kidnapped at gunpoint a day earlier and driven around blindfolded by her abductor, police and neighbors said.

    She described her abductor as a tall, thin white man with glasses wearing camouflage clothing, but police had no other details. The FBI and Maryland State Police were also involved in the investigation.

    Ripken told next-door neighbor Gus Kowalewski that the gunman didn’t seem to know her son was the Hall of Fame infielder nicknamed “Iron Man” for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore.

    “He said he just wanted money and her car,” Kowalewski said.

    Investigators do not know the kidnapper’s motive and there was no ransom demand for Vi Ripken’s release, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert said at a news conference.

    When asked if police believe the kidnapper knew who he was abducting, Trabert did not answer, saying investigators don’t know if the suspect has any ties to the Ripken family.

    Kowalewski said he spoke with Vi Ripken later Wednesday morning and she told him the gunman tied her hands and put a blindfold on her, but said he wouldn’t hurt her.

    “He lit cigarettes for her, they stopped for food,” Kowalewski said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to take you back,’ and that’s what he did.”

    Kowalewski said Ripken told him the gunman originally planned to put tape over her eyes.

    “But he didn’t do that because she said ‘please don’t do that ‘cause I’m claustrophobic,’” said Kowalewski, a 72-year-old retired autoworker.

    Instead, the gunman put some type of mask or blinders on her, and she could see somewhat out the sides, he said.

    This is very scary. And, I am happy that it worked out well, in the end, for the Ripkens. I just hope this doesn’t start to become trendy in this country now.

    Hamilton, Ryan & Washington

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (4)

    It’s a Texas Tango -

    Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said Wednesday that he agreed with CEO Nolan Ryan’s take earlier this week that Josh Hamilton sometimes gives away at-bats.

    The manager, on The Ben and Skin Show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, said Hamilton wants to perform, but that he needs some more patience.

    “A lot of people see things, but they’re afraid to say it,” Washington said. “That’s a fact. He has to stop giving away at-bats, get a little patient, bring the balls in the zone. That’s a fact. That’s not something someone is making up. That is the fact. Nolan sees it, I see it. Everyone else see(s) it, they just don’t say it.”

    Ryan told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Galloway and Company on Monday that he felt Hamilton was giving away at-bats at times.

    “I think we’re all seeing the same thing,” Ryan said. “You’re right that some of his at bats aren’t very impressive from the standpoint that he doesn’t work deep into the count, he’s swinging at a lot of bad pitches, he just doesn’t seem to be locked in at all. So what you’re hoping is that his approach will change and he’ll start giving quality at bats because there’s a lot of those at bats that he just gives away. One of the things I’ve always commented on is I can’t ever say that I ever saw Henry (Hank) Aaron give an at-bat away.”

    Hamilton, who was the AL player of the month in April and May, has struggled for nearly two months now. He hit .223 in June and .161 in July to see his average drop below .300 in the past few days. He’s hitting .290 on the season with 28 homers and 81 RBIs, though he’s hit just seven homers since June 1 with 24 RBIs. He had 39 strikeouts the first two months of the season and has 53 since the beginning of June.

    Washington talked about Hamilton’s release of emotion on Tuesday and he flung his helmet in the tunnel behind the dugout after grounding out just past the mound in the sixth. The slow-roller scored the club’s only run, but Hamilton was jammed and unhappy with the at-bat. He went 0-for-4 on the night.

    “Hamilton wants to perform just as bad and to a high level as anyone out there,” Washington said. “If you were a star, have the star status that Hamilton does and you were doing something and all of a sudden it’s not happening and you’re doing everything you can to make it happen and it’s not happening, all of a sudden you are knocked into reality. This night he showed that emotion. Because he knows the talent that is and he knows he’s capable, he contains it. That’s what good athletes do. Sometimes you have to let it out. Last night, he let it out and maybe from now on he’ll let it out and it won’t be so hard on him.”

    Worst July for Hamilton in Texas since 2009.

    Yankees To Bat Lead-Off In Starting Line-Up Since 1996

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (2)

    Add Ichiro to the list today.

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    Joshua Prager: My Personal Half-Life

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (1)

    Great story. H/T to Repoz.

    I can’t help but to be touched by a tale like this one. And, hearing Joshua speak, it’s a reminder that I will never be able to put together words as well as those who excel at it.

    The Mets Tanking In July

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (8)

    So far,  the Mets are 4-13 in the month of July.

    That’s pretty hard to do, isn’t it?

     

    Cole Hamels Signs $144 Million 6-Year Extension

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (11)

    Source.

    There have been few better since 2006:

    Rk Player ERA+ G From To Age GS W L IP BB SO ERA
    1 Roy Halladay 144 207 2006 2012 29-35 206 113 54 1498.0 236 1189 2.94
    2 CC Sabathia 141 215 2006 2012 25-31 215 117 54 1511.2 373 1373 3.12
    3 Johan Santana 138 174 2006 2012 27-33 174 80 51 1163.1 301 1081 3.03
    4 Clayton Kershaw 136 138 2008 2012 20-24 136 54 33 851.0 313 877 2.86
    5 Josh Johnson 135 139 2006 2012 22-28 132 54 30 832.2 268 762 3.13
    6 Chris Carpenter 132 134 2006 2011 31-36 133 59 32 908.0 204 708 3.04
    7 Adam Wainwright 132 199 2006 2012 24-30 138 73 45 988.1 279 835 3.12
    8 Jered Weaver 131 194 2006 2012 23-29 194 94 48 1242.1 332 1058 3.21
    9 Justin Verlander 128 217 2006 2012 23-29 217 118 60 1452.2 439 1350 3.40
    10 Felix Hernandez 127 213 2006 2012 20-26 213 89 68 1444.2 437 1330 3.23
    11 Cole Hamels 125 200 2006 2012 22-28 199 85 58 1295.0 325 1222 3.38
    12 Zack Greinke 125 201 2006 2012 22-28 160 72 48 1067.2 274 1035 3.43
    13 Roy Oswalt 125 189 2006 2012 28-34 186 79 55 1202.2 281 934 3.38
    14 Tim Lincecum 124 176 2007 2012 23-28 175 73 51 1139.2 432 1248 3.25
    15 Cliff Lee 123 194 2006 2012 27-33 190 85 58 1309.1 253 1075 3.40
    16 Matt Cain 123 216 2006 2012 21-27 215 77 75 1405.2 481 1183 3.33
    17 Erik Bedard 121 134 2006 2012 27-33 134 49 43 771.2 290 772 3.56
    18 Jon Lester 120 175 2006 2012 22-28 174 81 42 1078.0 400 994 3.75
    19 David Price 120 113 2008 2012 22-26 108 54 30 701.1 243 640 3.25
    20 Dan Haren 119 222 2006 2012 25-31 221 94 70 1474.0 292 1294 3.55
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/25/2012.

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    For Three-Quarters Of 2012 Yanks Near A .500 Team

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (12)

    The Yankees have gone 12-10 in their last 22 games.  Cause for concern?

    For kicks and giggles, here’s how the Yankees season has gone, to date, in 24-game snapshots:

    • 1st 24 games of 2012:  13-11
    • 2nd 24 games of 2012:  13-11
    • 3rd 24 games of 2012:  18-6
    • Last 24 games of 2012:  14-10

    If not for that nice run of 18-6, for the most part, the Yankees have played around .500 ball this season.

    It will be interesting to see how they do in their next 24 games.

    It’s Hanleywood!

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (2)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough, according to a person familiar with the deal. (Source.)

    Good luck, Donnie Baseball.

    Ramirez is a dog.

    A-Rod Injured

    Posted by on July 25th, 2012 · Comments (31)

    Via David Waldstein -

    A distraught Alex Rodriguez spoke briefly in a barely audible whisper late Tuesday night, knowing his season is in jeopardy. It was shortly after he was given the report of an X-ray of his left hand, and the news was not good. Rodriguez had broken the fifth metacarpal bone and will probably miss at least a month.

    “It’s difficult,” he said after a long pause. “Tough break.”

    Rodriguez was hit on the side of his hand by an 88-mile-per-hour changeup from Seattle Mariners starter Felix Rodriguez in the eighth inning of the Mariners’ 4-2 victory. He immediately dropped to the dirt in agony, his face contorted by pain, and after being looked over by the trainer Steve Donohue, was taken out of the game.

    Rodriguez will travel back to New York with the team after Wednesday’s game and see Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees team physician, on Thursday. Before that the Yankees will not have a clear sense of how long Rodriguez will be on the disabled list, but Manager Joe Girard said a displaced fracture would mean more time on the D.L.

    Rodriguez’s replacement at third base, Eric Chavez, said he broke the same bone in his hand on a fastball from Damaso Marte in 2004. He recalled that he was out for two months, but in fact he missed a little more than a month and 33 games.

    This will now be the 5th season in a row that A-Rod has failed to play more than 138 games for the Yankees.  And, I guess  this pushes his 3,000th career hit out to some time late in 2013 or early in 2014.

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