• September 30th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 30th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    Serenity now.

    OK, before that sets in – to the game tonight.

    This season, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra, and Bernie Williams have been hot and cold at the plate – but, more often cold than hot. So, what does Joe Torre do in one of the biggest games of the year? He bats these three men back-to-back-to-back and they go 0 for 12 in the game (as a group). But, because they all trail each other in the order, that’s like giving the Red Sox pitchers a free pass in 4 innings – or close to half the game. Brillant.

    And, of the three, Posada killed them the most tonight – failing twice with a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs. And, by the way, the Yankees lost by two runs tonight – possibly the two that Posada left on the pond and dying to come home.

    Hey, it was that kind of night for the Yankees hitters, outside of Matsui. They hit balls well at people in spots and let too many hittable pitches go by without doing damage in others.

    Perhaps the game, offensively for the Yankees, was captured in this snapshot: Jeter homers in the 7th to make the score 5-3, and says to A-Rod, as he crosses home plate “Come on, let’s go.” And, what does Alex then do? Rodriguez whiffs – looking.

    It’s too bad that Posada failed in the 1st with the sacks loaded with one out – because that could have been the spot to knock David Wells off his game. But, once that passed, Wells was dealing. Without question, Wells is one of the last men that you would ever want your daughter to bring home someday – but, the guy can pitch in a big game when he has a lead.

    Speaking of pitching, I think Wang did OK – not great, not very good, but OK. After the 5th inning, I thought to myself “He’s gone five and allowed two. For a rookie, in Fenway, facing this line-up, in a game like this, that’s very nice.” But, then, thanks to some bad defense and walks, the game got away from him in the sixth. I still find it amazing that Jason Giambi cannot throw the ball 80 feet, at times.

    So, now, it comes down to Randy Johnson. Tomorrow is the day that the Big Unit can earn every penny due over the life of his Yankees contract in just one day. Facing Wakefield, it will not be easy. And, I will make one prediction now – if the Yankees lose on Saturday, they will lose on Sunday as well, and go home with nothing. And, we will know then that the worm that turned last year never turned back again. Yes, now, thanks to tonight, tomorrow is that big.

    Serenity now.

    Damn, it doesn’t work at all.

    September 29th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on September 29th, 2005 · Comments (12)

    It’s Jeopardy!

    I’ll take “Scott Proctor” for “closing,” Alex.

    And, the “answer” was not “How will the Yankees blow this must win game that seemed to be in the bag?”

    Wow. I’ll get back to that in a bit.

    The bigger story tonight was Small Hobbs once again doing his Lucky Charm thing. The guy has made 15 appearances this year and is 10-0. Can it get any better than that?

    And, congrats to A-Rod for becoming just the 3rd RH batter in Yankees history to have 120+ runs and 120+ RBI in the same season. The others? Joe DiMaggio and Ben Chapman. Now, there’s a trivia question for you.

    Was Jason Giambi locked in at the plate in this series, or what? I just hope that he keeps it up in Fenway now. And, perhaps Sierra can muster up one big night tomorrow against Wells in Boston? (By the way, Big Rube, a bright red silk shirt and matching tie on the YES post-game? Way to mack there fella.) And, this is just a hunch, but, I’m calling a big series for Matsui this weekend. He often rises to the occasion on the big stage. This is the perfect set up for Godzilla.

    Now, to the bad news: You have a six run lead in the 8th and you have to use Gordon and have Rivera up and tossing as well? That’s flat out sad. It’s almost as sad as watching Sturtze served up nightly these days – cooked ala’ Torre. It’s a crime what Torre has done to so many promising pen men over the years.

    Back to Proctor, it was scary on a couple of levels to see him closing tonight. First, well, because he’s Scott Proctor. And, the second reason is because he started the Yankees big run this year with a surprisingly good spot start. I hate to think that a surprising good close-job might be the other bookend to frame this collection of stories on great Yankees wins.

    Speaking of a couple of reasons, the Boston win tonight was bad for New York in two ways. First, it was a Boston win. And, second, it was the way that they won – with a run in the 8th and 9th both delivered from Big Papi. Giving those guys some steam is the last thing that you want to do before a big three-game set.

    In any event, it’s clear what the Yankees need to do now – win two games in Boston to lock up the A.L. East. Or, at the least, win one to force a tie-breaker game on Monday in the Bronx. And, if the Yankees win none, it’s over.

    Knowing this, I keep thinking back to the Kevin Millar mantra during the ALCS last year – “Don’t let us win one game.” And, I truly feel that this applies for this year as well. It will serve the Yankees well to win on Friday and have Big Unit win on Saturday – and not let the Red Sox move from the line of scrimmage, at all. But, that’s easier said than done, right?

    September 28th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on September 28th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    Once again, the story is Shawn Chacón. As much as Chien-Ming has been Obi Wang this season, Shawn has been “Neo Chacón.”

    Ever since Morpheus Cashman freed him from the Baseball Matrix in Colorado, Chacón has been “The One.”

    It was also great to see Mo get the save tonight only using 9 pitches.

    Of course, a huge thanks has to go out tonight to Frankie The Cat and Ted Lilly. It must be nice for Lilly to win in Fenway at a time like this – when it was just two years ago that the Boston Bush Leaguers had his name taped to the backs of the jackets in an attempt to get the crowd at Fenway to sing-song his name and try and rattle him.

    With the Yankees now up by one game, with four to go, it means that – at the worst – New York would need to win 2 of 3 in Fenway this weekend to take the A.L. East (and not a sweep to clinch). Further, with a win tomorrow – regardless of what Boston does on Thursday – New York would then only need one win in Fenway to lock in a tie for the East.

    Throw in the Cleveland loss tonight – which gives a little breathing room in the Wildcard chase, if needed – and it’s just been a very nice night in Yankeeland.

    Now, it’s up to Small Hobbs to keep moving the chains tomorrow.

    September 27th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on September 27th, 2005 · Comments (11)

    Two days ago, I wrote:

    It really bothers me that Boston swept the O’s – for two reasons. First, there’s the obvious one. But, secondly, Baltimore has now lost eight games in a row – and five of them have been by one-run. By virtue of the laws of probability alone, they’re due for a fluke win over the next four games.

    So, I had a feeling that this was coming. Did I know it would be 17-9 bad? No – never, at all. But, thanks to Meltdown Mussina & The Arson Squad (with the latter being Leiter, Proctor, F-Rod, and Sturtze today) it was that ugly.

    Now, it’s up to Chacón and Small to save the Yankees hopes for this season – and, why not? They’ve been doing it for months now.

    At least the Indians and Red Sox also lost tonight. The Yankees got lucky there – both of them losing close games was a huge horse of a gift.

    And, the next five games will tell us if the Yankees decide to look that gift in the mouth – or not.

    September 26th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on September 26th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    I go out walking, after midnight
    Out in the moonlight, just like we used to do….

    At 11-0, after 6, I think it’s safe to put this one in the books.

    Now, of course, you know that the Yankees are going to have scoring issues tomorrow. That’s always how it goes.

    OK, gotta go now, the Escalona-Proctor-Womack-Lawton show is about to begin. Vento and Phillips better not be far behind.

    Yankees magic number is now, assuming the “W” tonight, seven with six games to go.

    Update, 9/27/05, 12:20 am EST: After watching Matt Lawton butcher another fly ball tonight into a hit and seeing Alan Embree once again play human batting tee (both in the 9th), I know (for sure!) that I would rather see the Bacardi and Cola guys on the Yankees post-season roster than Lawton and Embree (should the Yankees make it).

    September 25th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 25th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    A nice little comeback victory on Bernie Appreciation Day at the Stadium really hits the spot today.

    For those who missed it at the very end of the YES Post-game, Bernie’s comment, when asked about the fans today, was funny. He said it was a lot different today than back in 1991 when they were yelling “Go back to Columbus!” at him. Good memory Bernie.

    To the game, what can be said about Obi Wang that has not been said already? Wang, Small, and Chacón have been the glue to this Yankees comeback this season. Amazing – three guys not on the Yankees radar this April. You never really know in baseball, do you?

    And, it was nice to see Sheffield play RF and blast a HR. This would be an excellent time for him to go on a roll and hit something like 8 homers in seven days. Camden and Fenway are the perfect parks for him too.

    So, now, it’s a seven game season. Why do I think that I’m not going to be sleeping very well this week?

    It really bothers me that Boston swept the O’s – for two reasons. First, there’s the obvious one. But, secondly, Baltimore has now lost eight games in a row – and five of them have been by one-run. By virtue of the laws of probability alone, they’re due for a fluke win over the next four games.

    To be honest, when I factor this in, it just adds to the not so warm and fuzzy feeling that I’m starting to get about this race.

    At this minute, I truly feel that the Yankees need to be tied or up by one or two, going into Fenway, to have a chance at this.

    If New York is down by one, maybe they can take 2 of 3 in Fenway and force a tiebreaker – and that’s a big “maybe.” If they’re down by two, they need a sweep to win. With Wakefield on Sunday, they’re not going to sweep. (And, if anyone is up by two going into Fenway, it’s either win or lose – and there can be no tie.) And, if the Yankees are down by three, they would need a sweep just to tie.

    Of course, as we learned last year, over the course of a few games, anything can happen. So, I would never be placing any bets on any of this.

    September 24th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 24th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    Yesterday, I wrote:

    If Jaret Wright can pitch into the 7th tomorrow, I like the Yankees chances to make that (magic) number go down some more.

    What I should have added on to that was: “Of course, if Wright is only able to register three outs and allows 7 runners to cross home plate, then I don’t like the Yankees chances.” Ah, hindsight, it’s so much easier.

    They say that the sun does not shine on the same dog’s ass everyday. Clearly, it was not shining on Wright’s fanny today – for sure. Still, the Yankees had several chances to get back into this game today – and failed. In truth, there were quite a few Yankees’ behinds not feeling the sun’s rays today. What can you do? I guess the Yankees are not a squad of David Dunns? It’s just a shame to waste that wonderful relief effort by Roy Hobbs today in what was ultimately a losing cause.

    And, despite a semi-good fight by the O’s, the Red Sox won today. So, what does this all mean?

    It means that today, and the 173 days that preceded it, are completely irrelevant. Yes, you got it. All the marks on the blackboard have now been erased. Why? Because, as of this moment in time, it’s all been rendered meaningless.

    The only true reality now is that the 2005 season for the Yankees is an 8-game set – no more, no less. And, there’s only one other team in the league: The Boston Red Sox. One of these two teams will win more games than the other in their next 8 contests and that team will be the one to get the glory. Now, it could end up as a tie – but, that should not be the aim of either team. The goal for both sides is the same: Win as many of these 8 games as possible. It’s pretty simple.

    Tomorrow is the only home game for the Yankees in this new eight game season. It would be nice if they took advantage of it, had some fun, and got a win.

    September 23rd vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2005 · Comments (5)

    From a Bob Klapisch feature on ESPN.com, earlier today:

    “Anyone who tells you they could’ve predicted what Shawn’s done, or did predict it, is lying,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. “When we got him [July 28] we needed a pitcher, and he was better than what we had on the roster. That was about it. The rest you can credit to Shawn.”

    Seriously, how could anyone have predicted that Chacón would channel the pitching skill of Don Newcombe (say, around age 30) once he hit the Bronx? As long as he keeps pitching the way he’s been doing, including tonight, let’s just join hands and keep riding the C-Train. Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo!

    Memo to Yankees: Find a way to trade with the Jays for that Shaun Marcum kid and use him out of the pen. He’s not afraid of pressure, throws strikes, and has some stuff. He’s going to be a good one.

    So, ho-hum, the Yankees win another game today. And, it’s the 14th shutout victory for the team this year – tops in the A.L. (Lousy Yankees starting pitching, huh?)

    Again, it (meaning a win) just seems like a given thing these days – even when they do something like tonight, where they have the bases loaded with no outs (in the 2nd) and the heart of the order up, and plate no one. It just doesn’t seem to matter. They’re just going to win.

    Further, the Yankees actually now have a great shot at posting the best record in the league and getting home field in the post-season. How did that happen? Man, they’ve come a loooong way baby.

    During the game today, I did allow my mind to wander a bit – towards the game on Sunday.

    Will the Yankees fans do something for Bernie Williams, in what may be his last regular season game? I’m thinking no (at the moment) – as they probably expect him to have some post-season games coming in the Bronx. And, he’s not retiring, so maybe there’s no sense of urgency? I’m not sure.

    Also, I wonder what the Yankees rookies will be forced to wear going into the last road trip of the season? Didn’t they do Elvis last year? Or, was last year the pimp suits? I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures for this year – whatever they decide. Wang, Cano, and the boys better get ready.

    I did have one rant from today. It’s the 9th inning, there are 2 outs, you’re up by five, and you have Rivera start to get loose? Torre, man, you’re killing me.

    Lastly, thanks to Miggy (B-12) Tejada, the O’s let down Daniel Cabrera tonight (and cost my prediction from coming true) and Boston won this evening. Nonetheless, the Yankees magic number is now 9. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 9 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 9 games to go.

    If Jaret Wright can pitch into the 7th tomorrow, I like the Yankees chances to make that number go down some more.

    September 22nd vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2005 · Comments (16)

    As this game was coming to a close this evening, all I could think about was how much things have changed this season.

    When the year started, I would watch the games thinking that the Yankees would win, and they didn’t. After a while, I started watching games hoping that they would win, and sometimes they would – but, sometimes they would lose too.

    But, now, I watch the Yankees play and I expect them to win, and, they do – just about every time – regardless if they sputter with the bats in the early innings, or give up runs in the middle of the game, or have pitchers allow runners to reach late in the game. It doesn’t seem to matter. They just win. It’s incredible.

    Lately, it’s like watching a movie where you know the hero is going to get the girl, save the day, and be shining at the film’s close – it’s just that you don’t know what’s going to happen in between the start and the expected end. And, that’s the point to watching the movie – just to see the currents of the story. But, no matter what you see in that “in between” time, it’s pure and clear to you all along that the good guy wins at the end – and he does.

    How sweet would it be if the Yankees kept this up for 10 more games and into the post-season? It would be like “having just thirty dollars to your name and then winning the Lotto” sweet.

    And, in a way, what makes it that sweet is how they are doing it now (in this time of winning).

    Of course, if the Yankees manage to win it all this year, people are going to point to their payroll. But, it’s not that “payroll” which is entirely responsible for what’s happening now – as some large chucks of that (like Brown amd Pavano) have not been contributing to this effort. It’s been the Smalls, Wangs, and Chacóns, etc., who have been a bigger part of this turnaround. And, in the grand scheme of things, they’re in the “take a penny, leave a penny” dish in terms of the total payroll picture.

    To the game today, it was nice to see Mussina shine – although I thought he was going to kill Lawton in the 6th when that ball dropped for a cheap hit. (How has Lawton survived all these years in the bigs being such a butcher with the glove?) And, Posada has been smokin’ the last three weeks with the bat. Also, it’s good for the scouts to see Sheffield drive the ball (like he did tonight). On the downside, Leiter could have done better – and may have hurt his chance to make a post-season roster.

    In the end, while it’s obvious that every win is important now, this one was nice for me – because it gives the Yankees a full game lead. As I stated earlier today, it’s very important to have a 2-game lead heading into the final weekend of the season. And, before you can have a 2-game lead, you need a one-game lead.

    Now, all the Yankees need to do is win one more game than the Red Sox over the next week and they will have that two-game lead heading into that important series in Fenway.

    The Yankees magic number is now 10. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 10 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 10 games to go.

    It’s hard to believe that on the morning of July 2nd of this year that the Yankees were in 4th place in the A.L. East, with a record of 39-39, six games behind the first place Red Sox. Less than 12 weeks later, here are the Yankees – with a magic number just outside single digits. It’s some story, huh? And, as a Yankees fan, it’s an even better feeling.

    September 21st vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 21st, 2005 · Comments (14)

    rope.jpg

    Another close game. Wow. But, it’s another win.

    September 16, 1964 – the Yankees are a 1/2 game out of first.
    September 19, 1964 – the Yankees take first place and don’t look back.

    September 16, 2005 – the Yankees are 1.5 games out of first.
    September 21, 2005 – the Yankees take first place for the first time since July 18th.

    This year is really starting to look like 1964.

    Tonight’s game is a credit to the good people on staff with the Yankees.

    On July 24th, Joe Kerrigan sits with Randy Johnson. Since then, including tonight, in his last 6 starts, the Big Unit is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.91. He’s only allowed 1 homer in those games and the league is only hitting .158 against him.

    Matt Lawton comes to New York and can’t hit planet earth if he fell out of a space ship. Don Mattingly works with him and tonight he hits the big HR that provided the runs to win this game.

    Wow. Have I said that already?

    And, elsewhere, Mike Timlin blows a game in the 8th inning for the Red Sox. In their last 20 games, Boston has a record of 10-10. Something is happening with that team.

    Is it O.K. to say “Wow” again? Wow.

    Wow-we-wow-wow, in fact.

    There are two concerns from this otherwise wonderful evening. First, Giambi looks like a guy who should be on the DL because of his back. Secondly, Mariano Rivera is not going to have a shoulder left come October the way he has to pitch just about every game these days.

    Nonetheless, the Yankees magic number is now 11. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 11 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 11 games to go.

    Torre better have a very short leash on Mussina tomorrow. While a loss on Thursday would not be the end of the world, a win, giving the Yankees a full game lead, with just 10 games to go, is a gazillion times better than allowing the idle Red Sox to regain a share of first place.

    This is the time to put the pedal to the metal.

    September 20th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 20th, 2005 · Comments (24)

    The good news: How many times do you allow 18 hits, 2 walks, and make an error in a game and win?

    The bad news: When you’re winning 10-3 after five, you probably should be able to close the game out without using your primary set-up man and your closer. The use of Mo in this game was very disturbing – especially since he was warmed, then sat down, and then later brought up again to come into the game.

    Related, just what is the deal with Ramiro Mendoza? He hasn’t been used in three weeks. If he’s not able to throw, just why was he activated at all? And, hearing the stats on YES tonight about Leiter against LH batters as a Yankee (it was something like 0 BB and HR allowed), it’s time to start using him as a LOOGY and forget about Alan Embree.

    Aw, what the hey? The important thing is the “W” tonight. Just keep on keeping on, that’s the thing. Who cares if it’s pretty and/or pristine at this stage? In the end, it doesn’t matter – as long as you win.

    I guess those reports of Sheffield not being to hit for power were not spot on, huh?

    And, that bomb from A-Rod in the 8th, well, I’ve been watching games since 1973 and I cannot ever remember seeing a RH batter go upper-tank at the Stadium before. That’s power.

    The Yankees magic number is now 13. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 13 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 12 games to go.

    It’s a big game for Randy Johnson tomorrow. His ERA of 3.60 for September (to date) is the best mark that he’s posted for any month so far this season. Ditto his opponent’s batting average of .185 this month. He needs to keep pace with that now.

    September 19th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 19th, 2005 · Comments (12)

    Bubbalicious!

    It’s been a long time since I can remember feeling this happy for someone having a moment on a ball field – like I felt for Crosby tonight. In the YES post-game, Bubba said that he’s never hit a walk-off homer in his life – not even in Little League. It’s awesome with a capital “A” that he gets to do it now, given the situation, and the location. It’s a memory that he will have forever. Good for him. The Mattingly-induced new stroke is working for Bubba. He’s batting .379 in 13 games this month. And, also on the YES post-game, Torre said that “he’s become a regular part of this thing.” What a wonderful story.

    Even though the Yankees have been saying for a week-plus now that this is our post-season, tonight’s game was the first one for me that had that true play-off feel. And, despite the stellar picthing of Obi Wang (nine assists for him and just one fly ball allowed!), I was feeling uneasy watching this game with all the runners that the Yankees were leaving on base.

    What a wonderful win. And, tonight, Bubba and Wang sent a message to Torre – “We can play and shine under big pressure.” This is what happens on championship teams – the Wangs, Crosbys, Smalls, etc., of the world come out of nowhere and play big roles. These are good signs.

    And, thank you Devil Rays! The Yankees magic number is now 14. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 14 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 13 games to go.

    Lastly, has anyone ever seen a baseball player as big as Walter Young before? Six-five, three-twenty-two? I would imagine that when he goes to a restaurant, he looks at the menu and says “Okay!”

    September 18th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 18th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    I missed this one today. We took the kids to see the Somerset Patriots – it was their last home game of the regular season. Here’s a picture of us there having fun:

    blog918.jpg

    My thanks to the nice young lady working at the park who agreed to snap the photo for us.

    The kiddies made it through five-and-a-half today. That’s just about their limit: 2 hours – and, then they get antsy/cranky. I’m going to keep running them out to minor league parks until they can make it for three hours. Once done, then they get a trip to the Bronx for the first time. I’m guessing that’s 2008. (Great timing – it’s going to impossible to get tickets in the last season of this current park.)

    I did catch the score of the Yankees game at one point on a TV that they have in the Patriots’ gift shop. It was the top of the 7th at that point. Needless to say, when I saw it, I said “Aw, come on Yanks!”

    What’s with ESPN.com? I looked at the game summary later this evening and this is what I saw:

    000espnscore.jpg

    A negative run in the bottom of the 6th? What the…….

    I’m really torn about the result today. Part of me is OK with it – in the sense that I know they cannot win everyday, and that they had won 6 in a row coming into this game. But, the other part of me wanted this game because they were in it and had a chance to tie it at the end.

    In a way, this game reminds me of that May 18th game against the Mariners. That was another game where they had a chance to win the game, and extend a winning streak, but failed.

    I’m not worried about Wright – he’s tough and should be OK. And, if Mussina can come back, that will help if Wright cannot return. Giambi, even though he says that he’s playing tomorrow, concerns me.

    If I saw this right, on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, Jeter is now 0 for 8 this year, meaning he was the last out in 8 games this season, where he left the tying run on base. Wow, if only he was able to come through on two or three of those eight games. That could have meant a difference in the standings.

    Last night, I wrote:

    I’m disappointed in the A’s current showing at Fenway. They’ve pitched well – but, they need to score more runs against the Sox.

    Attaboy Oakland! Thanks for listening!

    The Yankees magic number is now 16. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 16 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 14 games to go.

    In my mind, the next series for both Boston and New York just may be the key to the Yankees chance to win this thing. The Yankees must take 3 of 4 from Baltimore. And, the Devil Rays must win at least one game in their series with the Red Sox. If this happens, then the Yankees will pick up a half-game and will be just one game out with 10 games to go.

    And, those 10 remaining games for both Boston and New York will be the same – 3 with each other and the rest with Toronto and Baltimore. See, I told you last month that it was the Jays and O’s who would have a say in who wins the East.

    September 17th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 17th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    For the second day in a row, it was one of those games where, if this game was in the first half of the season, the Yankees would have found a way to blow this game. It’s truly been a new world since July 1st. If I heard it correct on the YES coverage today, the Yankees have the best record in baseball since that date. Hearing this fact provides confidence for what may be in store for the rest of this season.

    And, while I confess that there were several moments today where the fear of losing this game crept into me, Shawn Chacón’s effort was uplifting. Not only did he provide the bullpen with some much needed rest, but, he reestablished himself in terms of “Who is Shawn Chacón for the Yankees? Is he the guy who was gang-busters at the start of his tour here – or the the guy who has been banged around at times lately?”

    Also, am I the only one who thought that DP in the 9th to save Gordon, and the game, looked like a replay of the DP that ended the 1977 ALCS? Nettles to Randolph to Chambliss. And, the reaction today, especially from A-Rod, at the end of the game seemed like it was an LCS win.

    Still on A-Rod, his play on the DP was another example of why he is the Total Paquete. He had a very bad day at the plate this afternoon – but, with the glove, he has a huge part in saving the game. That was clutch – and, something that a DH could never provide.

    The win today puts the Yankees in a good spot. If they can sweep this series, it probably allows them some rope in one of the four-game series with the O’s. And, then, maybe if they end up splitting one of those sets, and not winning both, a sweep of this three game series offsets that issue.

    Speaking of series, I’m disappointed in the A’s current showing at Fenway. They’ve pitched well – but, they need to score more runs against the Sox. I really thought that these four games would be a split. Maybe tomorrow will bring good news?

    The Yankees magic number is now 17. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 17 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East.

    15 games to go.

    September 16th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 16th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    No question about it. If this game was in the first half of the season, the Yankees would have not held on – and would have blown it. What a difference three months make.

    Fieldin Culbreth.

    With a name like that, I’m sure he got his butt kicked more than a few times during recess in grammar school. Maybe that’s the reason for the short fuse and the chip on his shoulder? Without going further on him, or Johnson, on this issue, what I want to bring up here is Joe Torre.

    It’s September. You’re a game back in the loss column. There are just 17 games left – including the game you’re in. Your ace just gets tossed in the 2nd inning.

    You have to get yourself run in this spot if you’re the manager. You have to make a scene – and a statement at the same time. It’s a statement to your team, the umpires, and the league – “You do something to get in our way, and we’re not going to take it like sheep.” (And, it’s not that big a deal to get tossed – you can still manage from the runway.) Oh, well, at least the Yankees bats came back and made that statement in place of Torre.

    Still on Torre: It’s the bottom of the 6th and you’re up by seven. The bases are loaded and Reed Johnson is up – who is Pat Tabler-ish with the sacks juiced. And, you bring in Felix Rodriguez? Gosh, that’s where the Blue Jays got back into this game. Just what is in that green tea?

    On the subject of Rodriguez, let me bring up Total Paquete for a moment.

    Stupid Yabu! Sorry, I had the A’s-Bosox game on as I was writing this and he just hit Manny with a pitch to hand Boston the game.

    Anyway, back to Alex. He hits the monster HR in the 4th with no outs, when the Yankees were up by 3, to make the score (then) 8 to 3. Now, the “Ortiz for MVP” camps will scream “Not clutch!” here. However, in a normal world – where Torre does not allow F-Rod to pitch to Johnson – Total Paquete’s bomb here is the blow that ices the game for New York. Maybe it’s not the 8th inning. And, maybe it was not a one-run game at the time. But, that’s still a big and important homerun. It’s a shame that more people don’t get that.

    Lastly, we might have to start calling Robinson Cano “Little Papi” if he continues to blast these homers. And, please, can Mo get a day or two off soon – before his arm falls off?

    The Yankees magic number is 18. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 18 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East.

    16 games to go.

    September 15th @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 15th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    If I’ve done my math right, Robinson Cano is now the first left-handed Yankees batter, age 22 or younger, to have 10 or more HRs in a season since 1963 (when Joe Pepitone did it). Funny, I would have thought that it happened more often.

    There’s something about tonight that’s bothering me. Once the lead became 4 runs, was it necessary to have Rivera come out for the 9th inning? I’m sure there’s good cases to be made both ways on this one.

    Of course, because of the slam, Cano will get the headlines on this one. But, the clutch hit tonight belonged to Alex “Total Paquete” Rodriguez. It was his 2-run bomb that won the game.

    And, let us not lose Aaron Small in this story. One hanger to Hall and a couple of ground ball hits before Gomes went catwalk. That was the damage tonight. Mussina who?

    The sweep of the Devil Rays was a big step. This allows the Yankees to have one game lost in each of their next five series and still probably win the A.L. East. It’s looking more and more doable these days.

    Lastly, thank you Oakland. The Yankees magic number is 19. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 19 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East.

    And, if the Yankees make the post-season, and the last roster spot is between Womack, Lawton and Crosby, Bubba better be on the team.

    September 14th @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 14th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    Holy Deborah Van Valkenburgh Batman! That was too close for comfort. Oh, those LOBs. Nice tag by Jeter to end it.

    Speaking of Jeter, he made it what Joey Tribianni would call a moo point, but, I would have pinch-hit for Cano with Bellhorn on the 7th with the score 4-4, and the bases loaded, with the lefty on the mound.

    Speaking of the 7th, it was nice that Wang managed to get into that frame. When I saw Proctor warming up with Embree in the 5th, I freaked. Every game is must win, no?

    Memo to Torre: Only use Scott (The Mouth Breather, seriously, doesn’t it seem like his mouth is always open?) Proctor when you’re up by 5 or more. Do not bring him into a close game.

    The Yankees magic number is 21. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 21 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East.

    September 13th @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 13th, 2005 · Comments (9)

    Quick, someone tell Jonny Gomes that the bully is not going to be pushed around today.

    Poor Mike Vento, it’s one thing to look like “Boner” Stabone from Growing Pains, but, it’s another thing to pull a rock like he did tonight in his big league debut. Lucky for him it was a blow-out. (By the way, “Boner” was played by the son of Walter Koenig who played Chekov on Star Trek. Just a little TV-trivia for you there.)

    I caught the first inning tonight, and then switched to FOX, to watch the season premieres of Bones and House. (The jury is still out on Bones, but, House was just as great as it was last season.)

    I did peak in during commercials to get the scores. When I left, after one, it was 5-2. It was funny to then see it jump to 10-2 after two and then to 17-2 in the seventh. I got back to the game in the top of the 8th – just in time to see Vento’s first AB.

    And, by the way, thank you Blue Jays. Yankees now two back in the loss column with 19 to play. Considering all the hard, tough, and stupid losses that New York has piled up this year, this position is amazing. Maybe I should say thank you Red Sox?

    So, now, like everyday now for the Yankees, tomorrow is key. Will it be the typical “can’t score any runs the day after a mercy rule game” thing – or, is this going to be the Tampa Bay Massacre – like the one in Boston in 1978? Tune in tomorrow.

    September 11th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 11th, 2005 · Comments (1)

    To me, the keys to this 1-0 win were, outside of the performance by Unit, the pop-up play in the 8th where the PR, Adam Stern, was erased and that catch that Rivera made off Renteria in the 9th. Otherwise, it’s the Dave Roberts/ALCS situation all over again in both those frames and that’s never a good thing in a 1-0 game. (By the way, how many good games in a row is it now for Johnson after that meeting with Kerrigan?)

    OK, now, to the standings, it’s a three-game gap with 20 games to go. Assume that Boston plays .500 ball. This means the Yankees would have to play .700 ball to pass them. If the Red Sox play .600 ball, then the Yankees have to play .800 ball to pass them. I still do not see the Yankees catching the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

    As far as New York’s wildcard chances, well, the Yankees next stop is three games in Tampa Bay. Let’s see how that plays out.

    September 10th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 10th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    Ah, the final nail.

    So, the Yankees season ends at 141 games.

    This one reminds me so much of Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. Curt Schilling comes back from the grave, again, and stuffs it to the Yankees in their own park. Watch, tomorrow will be just like Game 7 of the ALCS last year. Boston will be partying by the 5th inning.

    Actually, this game is the story of the Yankees 2005 season. They never win the games that they are supposed to win, according to all the stats coming into the game – instead, they tank it, and they tank it as bad as they possibly can tank it.

    In the spectrum of measuring baseball teams, there are:

    *Great teams.
    *Strong teams.
    *Good teams.
    *Almost good teams.
    *OK teams.
    *Below average teams.
    *Poor teams.
    *Bad teams.
    *Terrible teams.

    The 2005 Yankees, in the end, are not a great team, or a strong team, or a good team. On a daily basis, they fall somewhere between “almost good” and “terrible.”

    Today, as this is penned, it’s the 9th inning of the game today, and, I can safely say that they were a terrible team this afternoon – at a time where they could least afford it.

    Too bad that I no longer follow the NFL. It’s perfect timing, today, to close the Yankees season and start following something else. Thousands are probably planning a switch at this moment.

    September 9th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 9th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    When it started to look like this was going to be a win for the Yankees, some lyrics from an old Nik Kershaw song, started to play in my head:

    …Even if it was for just one day
    And wouldn’t it be good if we could wish ourselves away

    Wouldn’t it be good to be on your side
    The grass is always greener over there
    Wouldn’t it be good if we could live without a care

    But, first I had to survive that scary top of the 7th before the music started to play. Related, who was the last sure-handed Yankees 2B anyway? Pat Kelly in 1993?

    Anyway, even if it’s for just one day, it’s nice to have something positive happening in Yankeeland. At this stage, I’ll take it.

    Lucky Charm Small comes through again – albeit with the assistance of some line-drive outs. And, it was fun to see the Yankees play pinball, with 2 outs in the 6th, off the Sox pen-bookend knuckle-draggers. And, kudos to Bernie for cracking 2,200 hits tonight. Only Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle and DiMaggio have more in pinstripes – simply amazing company.

    OK, now, on to two gripes on this game. One on a player from each team.

    First, Matt Lawton. My gosh, with the leather he is The Butcher of the Bronx in the OF. And, as a Yankee, he’s something like 4 for 34. Is there no one else that they can play instead of him? At this stage, I’d rather see Mike Vento out there.

    Now, Jason Varitek – who I know is the patron saint for RSN. However, must he channel that Carlton Fisk “I invented this game” arrogance all the time? Man, he plays that too thick. It’s interesting that someone like A-Rod gets slammed for supposedly being a phony with the way that he resonates but no one ever says a word like that about Varitek.

    September 7th & 8th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 9th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    I watched both of these games from Cooperstown and made some notes to myself while watching them.

    I was thrilled that the Yankees came back to win on the 7th – because the kids and I planned to wear our Yankees garb to the Hall of Fame the next day. And, had the Yankees lost two-in-a-row to Tampa, I was not looking forward to hearing comments all day from the anti-Yankees fans also touring the Hall.

    For the record, it was amazing how Main Street in Cooperstown was full of Yankees and Red Sox rivalry “stuff.” I can only imagine what a turnoff that must be if you are a fan of the Brewers, Angels, Padres, Rangers, White Sox, Pirates, etc. – and were visiting Cooperstown. You probably want to see some representation of “your team” in the shops and all you see are shirts that say “Choke” on them, etc.

    We did run into some Sox fans on Thursday – and they did rib us a bit on being in our Yankees stuff. But, it was all good-natured and polite. And, face it, after the ALCS last year, and the Yankees play this season, you better be able to take some shots – as a Yankees fan.

    As far as the game on the 8th, I think it was appropriate that the Yankees started wearing Salvation Army patches on their sleeves for during this game. The Salvation Army has an expression for someone who passes away – they call it being “promoted to glory.” And, in this game, the Yankees played like they were “promoted to glory” – as in being dead. They’re probably out of time for the A.L. East now – and it would not shock me at all to see the Indians now get the Wildcard (and the Yankees go home after the season for the first time in a long time).

    Back to being in Cooperstown, we arrived around 3:30 pm on the 7th, bummed around that afternoon, spent most of the day on the 8th at the Hall, and then left on the 9th around lunch-time (after doing some shopping). We had fun. Here’s a shot of me and the kids goofing around on a statue of Campy during the afternoon on the 7th:

    kidscooper.jpg

    More pictures to come soon.

    September 6th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 6th, 2005 · Comments (10)

    scream.jpg

    There is no pain, you are receding
    A distant ship smoke on the horizon
    You are coming through in waves
    Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
    When I was a child I had a fever
    My hands felt just like two balloons
    Now I’ve got that feeling once again
    I can’t explain, you would not understand
    This is not how I am
    I have become comfortably numb

    You-Gee-El-Why. Actually, it’s worse. It’s Fugly – yes, with a capital “F” baby.

    I saw “The Joe Torre Report” on the YES Postgame – where he was asked what happened on the Cano error in the 9th. Joe’s answer: “He just booted it. No reason.”

    This made me remember what it was like when my daughter was going through the terrible two’s. The word “No!” became one of her favorite words – and, one day I decided to try and reason with her on such an offering. It went like this:

    Her: No!
    Me: Why not?
    Her: Not!
    Me: Honey, “not” is not a reason. You need a reason.
    Her: No reason!!!
    And then she stormed off.

    Yes, it’s true, the best Torre can do after a disgusting game like this is apply the logic of a two-year-old – in terms of an explanation.

    Then again, I guess he just can’t come out and say “We suck” on the network owned by his employer, huh?

    September 4th @ The A’s

    Posted by on September 4th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    For a guy who was having some issues, esp. going to his right, in the field earlier this season, A-Rod has turned into the second coming of Puff Nettles at the hot corner. Nice grab there tonight to end the game.

    Coming into this game, I was not sweating Zito – I never have been overly concerned about him. He has talent. Yes, he does. But, he always seemed, to me, to be one of those guys who is too into his stuff off the field (like his music, current girl friend, the stars, etc.). And, until he starts to focus just on baseball, he’ll never be that force to fear. Sorta like Bernie Williams, in a way. It’s not uncommon in baseball these days. I just read that the Red Sox have asked Bronson Arroyo to hold off on his music stuff from here until to the end of the season. Lots of these guys need to be reminded that they’re ball players first – and that should be Job One.

    Shawn Chacón is becoming very interesting with respect to ‘What to do next year?‘ Do the Yankees try and sign him to a multi-year contract – or, just go another year and see how it goes? It’s a tough call right now.

    So, now the Yankees have 26 games left – and only the six games against Boston, as of now, are against teams with a record over .500. This said, anything less than a 17-9 record to close out the season would be unacceptable.

    And, it starts with the next series against Tampa Bay. The Yankees have to sweep the Devil Rays in these gamesno excuses. If anyone wants to try and use that “Well, the D-Rays are a pretty good team now” line, I say “Bull Dung.”

    Tampa Bay just got swept by the Red Sox, in Fenway, in a four-game set. If Boston can sweep them, then New York must do the same. Again, no excuses.

    There’s only four weeks left to the season and the Yankees have to make up four games in the loss column. Assuming the Yankees and Sox split their six remaining games with each other, this means the Yanks must win every time that Boston wins, from here to the end of the season, and they also must win five times when Boston loses a game. Considering that the Red Sox hardly seem to lose these days, that makes every one of these 26 remaining games as must win for the Yankees.

    This is the hand that you have to play when you go 39-39 to start the season.

    September 3rd @ The A’s

    Posted by on September 3rd, 2005 · Comments (0)

    The many travels of Aaron Small, before joining the Yankees, are well documented. But, I’m not sure if many realize how Small was pitching this season with the Yankees Triple-A team, the Columbus Clippers, before joining New York.

    At Columbus, Aaron Small made 11 appearances – 10 of them being starts. In those opportunities, he won just one game. His ERA was 4.96. Triple-A hitters batted .310 against him in 49 IP (where he allowed a whopping 62 hits in that span).

    Fast-forwarding to today, in what was a very close to must-win game, Aaron Small throws a complete game 5-hitter to raise his Yankees record this year to 6-0 with an ERA of 2.42.

    Simply put, what Aaron Small is doing for the Yankees is a miracle. I have no idea why it’s happening or how he’s doing it. But, any Yankees fan who wants to look this gift horse in the mouth is a fool.

    Back on July 15th of this season, I wrote:

    Marty Bystrom, at age 21, came up in September 1980 with the Philadelphia Phillies and was an overnight sensation for the team that would eventually win the World Series. In six games, five of which were starts, he had a tidy ERA of 1.50.

    Then arm problems came and he was one of the worst pitchers in the NL for a few years – including 1984 when the Phillies finally gave up on him and traded him to the New York Yankees on June 30, 1984.

    What happened over the final three months of the 1984 season? Bystrom made 7 starts for the Yankees and had an ERA of 2.97. You could probably make a case that Marty Bystrom was the second or third best starting pitcher on the Yankees for the second half of 1984.

    In 1985, Bystrom reverted to his terrible pitching form and only made 8 starts for the Yanks and that would be the last time he pitched in the major leagues. His big league pitching days were over before his 28th birthday.

    There is no question, that in 1984, the Yankees caught lightning in a bottle with Marty Bystrom – an extremely rare grab, indeed.

    As this is being penned, the 2005 Yankees are in desperate need for starting pitching. Will lightning strike twice in a bottle for New York? Can it happen again this season? Stay tuned.

    Two days later, the Yankees purchased the contract of pitcher Aaron Small from Columbus. And, he’s been a “Marty Bystrom.” If the Yankees make the post-season this year, Aaron Small deserves to be voted a full post-season share by the team. Heck, he probably deserves to get two-shares for what he has done so far this season.

    Small this year has been a gift to the Yankees from the baseball gods. And, when you get blessed like this, you better do the right thing. If I’m Brian Cashman, I sign Small to a 2006 contract right now. Even if he never pitches for the Yankees next season, he’s earned it with his 2005 contribution. This is just an amazing story.

    September 2nd @ The A’s

    Posted by on September 2nd, 2005 · Comments (2)

    I’m pretty sure this is the first time all season that I’ve done an entry on a night game before the game was over. But, as I start to compose this, it’s the 3rd inning and the Yankees are losing 11-0. So, while it’s not official, this game is over to me.

    Just how bad is this game? Put it this way – the Yankees were losing 10-0 before they were able to record the A’s first out of the 2nd inning. In their first three innings, the Yankees left four men in scoring position – and had 6 LOB in total (and failed to score a run).

    As a Yankees fan, watching this game was like watching that very uncomfortable Ned Beatty scene from the movie Deliverance. If you happened to listen closely to the field microphone by the Yankees dugout in the first two innings of this game, you could actually hear them in there squealing like a pigs.

    So, Mussina is probably out for at least two weeks. And, if this score tonight holds up, the Yankees are out of the post-season dance as of this moment.

    And, just imagine how thrilled RSN will be waking up to see this score tomorrow AM after Boston actually lost a game in Fenway this evening.

    Gosh, it’s probably been three months since a Yankees game got me this low.

    September 1st @ The Mariners

    Posted by on September 1st, 2005 · Comments (9)

    4:03 pm EST: Today’s prediction is that Lawton and Matsui are going to have a big days at the plate – and that the Yankees win this game by the score of 6-4.

    Let’s see how I do with this one.