• Love To See This

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Via Peter Abraham

    After a brief workout today, Torre gathered the team at home plate for a base-running drill. He had Doug Mientkiewicz and Brett Gardner race to second, with Gardner going around third and Minky around first. As they started, the entire team walked off the field laughing. It was just a prank.

    Related, this picture from the AP:

    New York Yankees’ Brett Gardner, left, and Doug Mientkiewicz walk together from second base after realizing they were victims of a practical joke, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla. Mientkiewicz and Gardner started a base running drill only to discover the rest of the team left for the clubhouse.

    It’s great to see this team have some fun. I would love to see more of this type of stuff from the squad this spring. It helps build spirit and unity.

    I also love the fact that it was Brett Gardner and Rico Bergman who were the unknowing subjects on this one. If it had been two Gung-ho rookies, you could just file this one under rookie-hazing. Including a vet like Rico shows that anyone is open game.

    Keep it coming guys. There’s a month left to Spring Training. What else can you come up with?

    Show me A-Rod getting a shaving cream pie in the face from Andy Phillips during a YES Network interview.

    Show me Mike Mussina fake-spilling a bucket of confetti on Melky Cabrera.

    Show me Farnsworth, Damon and Pratt fooling Phil Hughes into a 3-man Lift trap.

    Show me Hideki Matsui putting a rubber snake into the glove of Mike Myers.

    Live a little and give me just something else to add on to today’s fun.

    The Bronx Tea Party

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From the Star Ledger

    You can set your watch by Ron Villone’s morning ritual.

    The Yankees reliever comes off the field, iPod headphones still in, clothes damp with sweat. He takes a carafe filled with some dark, shriveled-up leaves into the player’s lounge, and fills it with hot water. Five minutes later, Villone strains out the water through the bottom of the pot. He adds a little honey, and takes a slow sip.

    Forget Gatorade and protein shakes. In the Yankees’ clubhouse, tea — particularly antioxidant-rich green tea — has become the beverage of choice for more than a few players and coaches.

    “My best friend is monkey oolong,” says Villone, a native of Bergenfield.

    That would be “Monkey Picked Oolong Oolong” tea, the origin of which the 37-year-old pitcher is happy to explain.

    “Thousands of years ago, monkeys picked the tea leaves from the top of the tree,” he says as his morning cup steeps. “Monks taught them to do that. I guess it’s a lost art because they don’t need the monkeys to do that any longer.”

    Another reason for tea’s prevalence in the Yankee clubhouse is due to the presence of Asian players like Taiwan’s Chien-Ming Wang and Japan’s Hideki Matsui.

    “I drink it all the time,” Matsui says. “Obviously it is good for you, but it’s the flavor. I’ve been drinking it since I was a child. It’s part of the culture.”

    When Matsui joined the Yankees in 2003, Jason Giambi went up to him and quizzed his new teammate on the properties of green tea.

    Giambi, who has visited Japan several times, was fascinated by what he learned.

    Now, Giambi drinks green tea frequently.

    Wang usually waits until after he leaves the ballpark to go home and brew some tea in a traditional Chinese teapot. But when he noticed Villone’s fascination with tea he offered to swap his Taiwanese leaves for some of Villone’s.

    Now, here’s where you expect me to insert a joke tying all this to Mr. Green Tea himself, Joltin’ Joe Tea-orre….right?

    But, I have to confess something. I’m in my early 40’s and I’ve probably had a total of four cups of coffee in my entire life. However, I do have a cup of tea every morning. (Never with milk in it, for the record.) And, in the summer-time, I drink a lot of iced tea as well. So, I know where these guys are coming from with their interest.

    Have I tried Monkey Picked Oolong Oolong? At five bucks an ounce, no – it’s out of my price range. I can get an entire box of Swee Touch Nee Tea Bags for less than that.

    Predicting The ’07 Opening Day Roster

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    The uniform numbers that players are assigned in Spring Training usually tell you about the chance that a player has to make the big league team. (The lower the number means the better their chances.) Let’s look at who is wearing what number down in Tampa (for the Yankees) at this moment.

    Click on the following thumbnail to enlarge the view:

    Those guys to the right (above) with uni-numbers greater than 56, well, they’re probably not making the Yankees opening day roster – barring something unexpected happening over the next 4 weeks.

    Let’s look at the group of players towards the far left of the chart.

    The players in blue are the everyday starters and the players in orange are the pitchers who should make the team without question. The players in yellow are the expected bench players. In total, the blue/orange/yellow group count out to 22 players.

    The players on the far left in rose-shading are three pitchers fighting for the last two spots on the pitching staff.

    Why can’t all three rose-pitchers make the team since there are only 22 of the 25 spots taken by blue/orange/yellow guys? The answer is simple – because one of those players in the small box above (with players in green and yellow) should make the team as well (and because there’s little reason to expect the Yankees to carry 13 pitchers to start the season).

    So, getting away from colors, it boils down to this:

    Bruney, Britton and Villone are battling to see which of the three does not make the team that comes North. Phillips and Phelps are fighting it out to see who will be the back-up 1B on the roster. And, I suppose that you could say that Pratt and Nieves have a contest, to some extent, to see who will be the back-up catcher.

    I have a feeling, knowing Torre, that Villone is going to make the team. Therefore, this assumption allows us to bring it to this level – the roster battles in camp this year are:

    Bruney vs. Britton
    Phillips vs. Phelps
    Pratt vs. Nieves

    Unless Pratt falls completely on his face, that last match-up is almost no contest – expect Pratt to be the back-up catcher.

    Given Bruney’s injury concerns in the past and this spring, plus his control issues (at times), I think the last pitching spot is Britton’s to lose.

    What about Phillips vs. Phelps? This is a tough one. The Yankees will lose whichever one does not make it – because Phillips is out of options and Phelps would have to be offered back to the O’s.

    Phelps probably offers you more stick than Phillips. However, Phillips offers you more options with the glove because he can play 2B and 3B in emergency situations as well. Unless Phelps rips the cover off the ball this spring, I can see Phillips winning this one – because of Torre “knowing the player” (like in the case of Villone) and because versatility is probably more handy than a bat from the last man on the bench. Think about it – when two outfielders go down in a game for the Yankees, now, Miggy Cairo is your second back-up OF. Therefore you need another guy on the bench who can cover you – like Phillips – at some of the non-1B infield positions (just in case).

    As a result, this is what I predict the Yankees Opening Day roster will look like:


    Is this squad much better than last year?

    The starting pitching should be a little better. And, the overall team defense should be a little better as well. But, it’s not as if the 2007 Yankees are a whole lot different than the 2006 Yankees, are they?

    Weighty Matters

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Via The Record

    Saying that he “lost some of my athleticism” by playing at 225 pounds, Alex Rodriguez believes he’ll benefit by being leaner this season.

    Mostly through dietary alterations, A-Rod said his body fat has plunged from 16 percent last year to 9 percent this spring.

    “I just felt a lack of movement last year,” said Rodriguez. But already this spring, “I feel more athletic.

    “I felt that when I gained the weight, I lost some of my athleticism,” A-Rod said. “My ability to move around, everything was kind of a lethargic struggle.”

    Last year, A-Rod committed 24 errors at third base — something that could be partly attributable to a somewhat sluggish feeling of playing at a higher weight.

    Rodriguez, who stands 6 feet 3, said he’s lost “10 or 12 pounds” since the end of last season.

    “I like the idea of being at a lighter weight on the field,” A-Rod said. “My best years have always been at a lighter weight.”

    A weight-loss worked wonders for Posada last season. So, this decision by Alex could be wonderful news. Hey, on the flip side, he could have come into camp looking like this:


    Choose your caption for the above:

    (a) Holy “Homer in a Moo-Moo” Batman!
    (b) Hey, Red Light, when is the baby due?
    (c) “My boyfriend Theo says I’m not fat. He says that I am pleasingly plump.”
    (d) When does Bosox special spring instructor Richard Simmons report to camp this year?

    Shoobie Doobie Do Wop

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    There’s a nice feature on Derek Jeter’s new sleep-over buddy in Newsday today. (Hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org)

    “There’s this great area in Berlin where I walked through thousands of people,” Jeter recalled wistfully this week at the Yankees’ spring training facility. “I don’t think anyone knew who I was.”

    Of course, it helped that Jeter’s traveling companion deflected a lot of attention by being one of the few athletes in this world more recognizable than Jeter.

    Several days after the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs, Michael Jordan called Jeter and told him what he needed to do was get out of New York — way out of New York. He invited Jeter to join him on a whirlwind European tour, visiting Paris, London, Milan, Berlin, Hamburg and Barcelona in six days.

    When I read this, all I can think about is:

    New York, London, Paris, Munich
    Everybody talk about pop musik
    Talk about, pop musik
    Talk about, pop musik

    If you’re wondering if A-Rod knew about Derek’s Eurotrip sleep-over pal, I’m guessing that “Alex doesn’t know.” Then again, there are worse things not to know:

    The Psycho Fan

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    There’s a relatively new Yankees blog on the scene: The Psycho Fan – Watch and enjoy as the New York Yankees slowly kill a grown man.

    If you stop by, tell them that WasWatching.com sent ya!

    A Couple of Former Yanks In The News

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From the AP:

    Florida Marlins officials were unhappy to hear that their manager last year, Joe Girardi, gave rival pitcher Jon Lieber helpful tips during the season.

    Lieber said his season with the Philadelphia Phillies turned around shortly after he was roughed up by the Marlins last July 31, and he credits a phone call from Girardi, a former major league catcher. They played together with the Chicago Cubs from 2000-02.

    “He just mentioned that the hitters said everything that was coming in was just very flat,’’ Lieber told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I wasn’t on top of the ball like I should have been.’’

    Both teams contended for the NL wild-card berth, and Lieber beat the Marlins twice in September.

    Florida general manager Larry Beinfest declined to comment Tuesday, but another team official said the front office was angry about the matter. The official requested anonymity because Beinfest wouldn’t comment.

    Is it a “helpful tip” when you tell a guy (on the other team) that the reason why he got pounded was because he was serving up meatballs to the plate?

    Today’s Intra-Squad Game

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Here’s the winner pitcher.

    The boy has arms like El Duque’s legs. There’s some good deception in there.

    Drawing Lines Where There’s No Right To

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (14)

    So, I’m reading this Times Union feature on the raid of a Florida steroids center (hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org) – as it caught my eye that the article fingers Gary Matthews Jr. as a user of PEDs – and then my mind starts to wander/wonder…

    First, to the Times Union report:

    ORLANDO, Fla. — A downtown pharmacy here was raided by a law enforcement task force on Tuesday, apparently as a result of a large New York state grand jury investigation into Internet drug sales.

    The unusual inquiry, led by Albany County’s district attorney, has taken New York narcotics agents and a federal task force deep inside a maze of shadowy pharmacies and Web sites that have reaped millions of dollars in profit by allegedly exploiting federal and state prescription laws, according to court records.

    More than two dozen doctors, pharmacists and business owners have been, or will be, arrested in the coming days on sealed indictments charging them with various felonies for unlawfully distributing steroids and other controlled substances, records show.

    The Times Union has learned that investigators in the year-old case, which had remained quiet until now, uncovered evidence that testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs may have been fraudulently prescribed over the Internet to current and former Major League Baseball players, National Football League players, college athletes, high school coaches, and a former Mr. Olympia champion and another top contender in the bodybuilding competition.

    And, then, to the recent news on Johnny Damon

    Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon rejoined the team Monday after a two-day excused absence to tend to a personal matter.

    Damon spent the weekend at home with his family in the Orlando area. He didn’t discuss specifics, but said the issue has been resolved. He said it did not involve his father or infant daughter, who was born in January.

    “Everything is great,” he said. “Fortunately a little personal matter that I had take to care of was in February and not in June or July or anytime during the season. I feel a lot better today than a couple days ago. Something was worrying me and I took care of it. It’s a non-issue now.”

    Orlando, Orlando….going once, twice…..

    Nah. It can’t be, can it?

    Man, would that ever stink. Forget that I even wandered and wondered about it.

    One Door Closes, Another Juan Opens?

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Suppose that Bobby Abreu does miss the start of the regular season. If Juan Miranda has a strong spring training in Tampa, could he possibly play his way on to the Yankees Opening Day roster?

    With Abreu down, there’s a chance that could mean more At Bats for Miranda to show his stuff this spring.

    Let’s make it more interesting: Suppose that Miranda hits .450 this spring. And, suppose that Rico Bergman bats .080 and looks old. Would you then start Miranda at first to start the year? Or, does the A-Rod factor buy Rico an extra life-line?

    Sometimes something as simple as a tweak in the side during BP can end up impacting more than just the player with the problem – it can open doors that were closed for another player and create position battles where they never existed for yet another one.

    This suggestion would be an interesting development to watch. But, of course, Miranda has to hit to make it all happen.

    Catching Up With Paul Quantrill

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Via NorthumberlandNews.com

    Retirement from major league baseball has not been that tough of a changeup to master, says Port Hope’s Paul Quantrill.

    “I always said the day I stopped enjoying playing baseball I would retire,” says Quantrill. “I was not enjoying coming to the park anymore and with my three kids and family getting older, I wanted to move on to a new part of my life.”

    Quantrill explained his retirement and various career highlights during a recent talk with elementary school students at St. Anthony’s school in Port Hope.

    Quantrill described his time with the Yankees as being similar to being in a rock band because of the heavy media presence in New York.

    When asked what his career lowlight was, Quantrill says the first time he was traded was tough. On May 31, 1994, he was traded from the Red Sox, with Billy Hatcher, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Wes Chamberlain and Mike Sullivan.

    What? How about Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS? Paul threw 8 pitches in that game: Ramirez singled to left, Ortiz homered to right. Game over.

    Maybe Quantrill has blocked all that out already? Probably the good thing to do, to stay sane.

    Breaking Bats Before They Become Bats?

    Posted by on February 27th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From Michael Geffner’s Q&A with Kyle Farnsworth

    What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

    [Farnsworth:] I cut down my neighbor’s trees with a steak knife (he laughs again, uncontrollably). I was around 8 and I got in a lot of trouble.

    I can just see young Kyle now – wearing coveralls and carring a sling shot in his back pocket…and weidling a steak knife in his hand….

    To quote A. Bunker, reading a comic book: “Ha ha ha. Oh that Dennis. He really is a menace. Such a rotten kid I love him.

    The funny part is that “The Farns” went on to attend “Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College” later in life. Sounds like Kyle has a thing for trees.

    The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (0)


    J.C. Bradbury has authored a book that is slated to be released on March 15, 2007: “The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed.”

    In the book, Bradbury uses “sabernomics” to examine particular baseball puzzles – ranging from the field of play and beyond. What is “sabernomics”? It’s taking sabermetrics to another level – by injecting it with a heavy dose of economic study applications.

    Sabermetrics is the statistical analysis of baseball data. However, as Bradbury writes: “Sabermetrics involves analytical and statistical methods, but the analysis is often narrow and is not based on economic assumptions about human behavior.”

    To address this issue, Bradbury – who is an associate professor of economics at Kennesaw State – has enhanced the sabermetric method of analysis by incorporating the tools of modern economics into the process. These tools analyze human behavior and study how people respond to incentives. And, in the end, you have “sabernomics.”

    The Baseball Economist,” powered by “sabernomics,” looks into trends on hit batsmen, the influence of on-deck batters on pitchers, the fallacy of fearing left-handed catchers, the impact of managers chirping on balls and strikes, the value of Leo Mazzone, the myth of market driven competitive imbalance, dealing with steroid use, and ‘putting a dollar sign on the muscle’ (meaning using stats and the economic approach to judge talent and determine worth) – among several other topics.

    I found the content of Bradbury’s book to be original, refreshing, thorough, objective, and thought-provoking. As such, “The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed” is the type of book that the analytical baseball fan will find as worth reading – and reading again. The publisher of Bradbury’s book refers to the work as “Freakonomics meets Moneyball” and I would agree with this label. And, I would not be shocked to see “The Baseball Economist” do just as well (as those two books) on the seller’s charts. I highly recommend Bradbury’s book as one of the “must-read” baseball books of 2007.

    Got Head, In Pocket, And I Hope He Knows How To Use It

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    Now, that’s using your head.

    In case you’re wondering who this player is, look at the name on his glove.

    Abreu Out 2 Weeks?

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From the AP

    Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu is expected to miss at least two weeks after straining his right oblique during batting practice Monday, an injury manager Joe Torre said won’t cause the team to make a new push for Bernie Williams to report.

    Torre said Abreu will be ready for opening day.

    “He didn’t feel anything until he was hitting,” Torre said. “It’s just one of those things. I guess the good news is it’s early. You can afford a couple weeks right now.”

    Abreu was scheduled to undergo tests Monday.

    Torre said there are no plans to contact Williams, who rejected the Yankees’ offer of a minor league contract and spring training invite.

    Two weeks? Try six weeks – that’s what it takes, most times, for an oblique situation. (Unless you’re Carl Pavano, then you’re done for most of the season.)

    If it’s six weeks, then Abreu would miss, around, the first two weeks of the season. Looks like Kevin Thompson might get to collect some big league meal money checks for a tad to start the season.

    Sox and Pinstripes

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    I just noticed this press release about a new Yanks-Sox blog: Sox and Pinstripes

    If you stop by, tell them that WasWatching.com sent ya!

    Reminder: Passing The Hat For The New Year

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    In case you were not aware, you can help support WasWatching.com

    Every bit helps. Thanks.

    Jason, You Don’t Have To Put On That Red Light

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    I was just looking at Jason Giambi’s Batting Home Run Log over Baseball-Reference.com and saw something interesting.

    Giambi has 350 lifetime homeruns.

    How many do you think he’s hit on a 3-0 count?

    Just one.

    Yes, just one of Giambi’s 350 career homers was hit on a count of three balls and no strikes.

    Maybe this is the season that Jason should try and sneak up on some pitchers by taking a big rip on that 3-0 count?


    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    …minutes until the Yankees first Spring Training game this season.

    But, who’s counting?

    OK, yes, I’m counting.

    It will be nice to see some live Yankees baseball soon – even if it is just an exhibition game.

    74.25 hours to go…….man, even that seems long.

    OK, let’s just say “3 days to go!”

    Britton’s Got The Look

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    In one of his books, Sparky Lyle talked about Jim Beattie and Ken Clay coming out of nowhere to win Game 1 of the ’78 ALCS. The way he described them was like:

    They were throwing hand grenades – the way their stuff was so nasty. Plus, they were pitching with a look on their mug that said “OK, go ahead, try and hit this!”

    Chris Britton is working on that look this Spring.

    Being Jason Giambi

    Posted by on February 26th, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Via Mark Feinsand of the News

    Life is good for Jason Giambi.

    Of course, it hasn’t been so easy for the Yankees’ slugger for the past few years, as he found himself embroiled in the BALCO steroids controversy, battled a mysterious illness and watched his status as one of the fiercest hitters in the game wither away in the blink of an eye.

    Those experiences could have destroyed Giambi’s career. Instead, they strengthened his resolve.

    “I’ve gone through some tough times, so I’m definitely stronger,” Giambi said Sunday. “I might have come over here as a boy, but I’m a man now. There’s no doubt about it.”

    Giambi has realized his desire to win outweighs his desire to post numbers for the back of his baseball card.

    “Over the last couple years, being hurt with my wrist and my knee, I didn’t go on the DL,” Giambi said. “I may have sacrificed some personal numbers, but it gave me more gratification when we won. It was better than hitting .290 and not making the playoffs. You learn that as you get older that it’s all about winning.”

    Part of me likes Giambi – probably because it’s said that he’s a good guy and most people seem to like him. However, there’s a part of me that feels like you cannot count on him – because he’s going to breakdown at some point in the season.

    And, I really can’t shake a vibe that I have now on him that suggests to me that he’s going to be a bust in 2007.

    With Melky Cabrera on the team, it will not be a huge blow if Giambi had some sort of injury that will prevent him from playing for a long time. Matsui, Damon and Abreu would fill in at DH and Melky would sub in the outfield. Still, it would be a blow to some extent – as Melky’s OPS will not match what a healthy Giambi would provide in terms of reaching base and slugging. And, of course, having Giambi out and having Melky playing full-time means that the Yankees bench will be shooting blanks from that point out.

    I suppose that a long-term Giambi injury could be good news, in a way, to a prospect like Eric Duncan. It could open a door. However, that would require Duncan to show something this Spring – and get off to a good start in Triple-A.

    Hopefully, I’m wrong on this feel – and Giambi will be “The Man” for the Yankees this year – the full season, meaning every month.

    But, it I had to place a bet on Giambi being the team MVP this season, or him being a disappointment in the end, my head would win out over my heart and I would lay the money down on the latter.

    Chass: Did A-Rod Want Another Shot At Mets?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From Murray Chass of the New York Times

    The recent talk about the opt-out clause in Alex Rodriguez’s contract prompted a theory on why the clause was put in the contract.

    As rich as the contract is, a record $252 million over all and salaries of $27 million in each of the final three years, there is no need for Rodriguez to walk away from the contract after its seventh season for economic reasons. But had Rodriguez stayed with Texas for the first seven years, the opt-out clause might have served as a way for him to go where he really wanted to go six years ago.

    The Mets were Rodriguez’s first love, but Steve Phillips, then the Mets’ general manager, shattered that desire by recoiling at the initial asking price uttered by Scott Boras, Rodriguez’s agent, and running as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

    By having the opt-out clause, Rodriguez, now 31, preserved his ability to go to the Mets while he was still young enough to make a difference and to give the Mets a chance to make up for the mistake they made in December 2000.

    I’m not buying it.

    To me, it’s simple: In September 2000, Major League Baseball signed a six year, $2.5 billion, contract with FOX to carry baseball. This meant that there would be a new TV-contract for baseball in 2007. A-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, knew this as well as anyone. A-Rod’s agent also knew that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would come into play in 2007.

    Boras probably figured that there would be “new” money to be found in baseball starting in 2007 when the next television contract and CBA kicked in – and he wanted Rodriguez to be able to tap into that “new” money (should the dough be there as Boras expected).

    The opt-out clause has nothing to do with some desire to go play for the Mets. It’s all about having leverage at a time where it’s best for you – a Boras specialty.

    Donnie Or Mex With The Leather?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    Bob Klapish takes on the question with the aid of some Yankees:

    Just who was the area’s best first baseman of the 1980s, Keith Hernandez or Don Mattingly?

    “Come on, you know I’m not going to touch that one,” Joe Torre said with a laugh. “I’ve always hated Keith because he took my job [with the Cardinals in 1975]. But there’s no way to choose between them.”

    Jason Giambi picked Mattingly for sentimental reasons – “Donnie was my favorite player” – while Alex Rodriguez was on the verge of choosing Hernandez because, as a die-hard Met fan growing up, “I watched every single Met on WOR for four straight years. I saw so much more of Mex than I did Donnie.”

    A-Rod didn’t officially choose Mattingly, however, because as he said with a rueful smile, “Yankee fans already hate me.”

    But that’s not to say Mattingly was conceding to his Mets counterpart. Quite the contrary. Donnie Baseball said, “I could pick it with anyone.”

    Yet, Mattingly had nothing but praise for Hernandez, standing by his assertion that if it would’ve meant becoming teammates with the Met first baseman, he would’ve vacated the position.

    “I meant what I said, I would’ve moved to left for Keith,” Mattingly said Saturday. “I would’ve done it because we would’ve been a better team with the two of us on the same field. I wouldn’t have minded if he played first instead of me.”

    As a Yankees fan who suffered when things were not going perfect in the Bronx during the mid-’80’s, while the Mets were winning a ring with Mex at first, I will share that I learned to hate Keith Hernandez. I was sick of hearing from, and about, him. And, while he was with the Mets, I rooted, hard, for him to do poorly.

    Now, years later, to be candid, I will now confess, looking back at it all, Hernandez probably was the best fielding first baseman of all-time (or darn close to it) and he should be in the Hall of Fame (at Cooperstown).

    As I wrote in my book, in terms of relative career offensive production, Don Mattingly was more like Rocky Colavito and Keith Hernandez was more like Enos Slaughter.

    Slaughter is in the Hall. Factor in Hernandez’ brilliance with the glove, and he should be there too. Why Keith got dismissed by the voters so quickly, I have no clue? Perhaps it’s because Mex was done by the time he was just thirty-four? (Too many lounge visits catching up with him, maybe?)

    Donnie was right – the Yankees would have been a better team with Mattingly in left, and Hernandez at first, than with Mattingly at first and guys like Gary Ward and Dan Pasqua in left.

    In fact, add Hernandez to the Yankees in 1985 and maybe the Bronx Bombers win the pennant that year – and the Mets don’t win in 1986. How sweet would that have been (for Yankees fans)?

    Mo: The Sox? Nah……..

    Posted by on February 25th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    From the Times, with a hat tip to XM MLB Chat

    Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ closer, smiled while he was told some of the recent developments regarding the Boston Red Sox. Curt Schilling will become a free agent after the season. Manny Ramírez is not yet in camp. Daisuke Matsuzaka is a pitching machine.

    But Rivera, who also said he would test free agency after 2007, turned serious when he was asked if he could envision himself pitching for Boston.

    “I don’t think so,” Rivera said. “I respect the players and I respect the organization, but we’ve had so much happen between us. I don’t think I could do it.”

    “There’s too much between the teams,” Rivera said. “I like some of their players. They’re my friends. I just don’t think it would be possible.”


    One Trick Toy

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    Alex Belth at Bronx Banter has a feature up today on Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn.

    When I hear Wynn’s name, I think of 1977. The Yankees had acquired the (then) 35-year old to be their DH that season. Wynn cracked a homer on Opening Day at the Stadium in 1977 – and it was looking like the Yankees had a find.

    But, he tanked from there and was a bust. That tater in the Bronx at the Opener would be the last one in the Toy Cannon’s career.

    The Yankees released Wynn on July 14, 1977.

    A Tale Of Two A-Rods?

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From Peter Abraham

    There was a small crowd at Legends Field today, maybe 1,000 people, and the music was softer than it usually is.

    So it was easy to hear when some joker yelled out, “Hey, A-Rod, you suck!” as Alex Rodriguez was leaving the batting cage after taking a few swings against Kei Igawa.

    Even Rodriguez turned and look at the guy, who was wearing a Dartmouth t-shirt. It sort of made you wince because you knew everybody had heard it. A few people turned and told the guy to shut up.

    When it was Rodriguez’s turn again, the crowd gave him a nice ovation with some fans standing and shouting encouragement. He cracked a ball into right field and the cheers got even louder.

    From Michael Geffner

    A few in the crowd at Legends Field were especially rough on A-Rod during BP today yelling lustily at one point after he hit a lame grounder: “You suck, A-Rod! Just like you did in the playoffs!” Then, after he drilled one into the left-center field gap during his next group of at bats, the fans cried: “Why didn’t you do that in the playoffs last year?” He acknowledged the jeering only with a wave of his helmet, but without ever turning around to look at the section where it was coming from.

    Go with the story that floats your boat.

    The Major League Strength Dugout

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Dana Cavalea is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the New York Yankees. He’s also got a blog: The Major League Strength Dugout

    If you stop by, tell them that WasWatching.com sent ya!

    The New Ballgame: Understanding Baseball Statistics for the Casual Fan

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Back when I was in the 5th grade (in 1972), I bought a book at our school ‘Book Fair’ that was very important to me (at the time).

    The book was called “How to Play Better Baseball.”

    It was a ‘learners’ book on baseball – how the playing field was made up, what equipment was used in the game, how to field each position, pitch, hit, run the bases, game strategy and how to keep score – all with many illustrations that looked like they were right out of Schoolhouse Rock.

    I probably read the thing (at least) 50 times after I bought it. And, I still have it – I guess that I’ve kept it, all these years, just for old-times sake.

    I just had the pleasure to read Glenn Guzzo’s new book – “The New Ballgame: Understanding Baseball Statistics for the Casual Fan” and it reminded me of that ‘learner’ baseball book from my youth.

    The New Ballgame” (which was just released this month) provides a user-friendly primer for the newer baseball fan (or those just new to appreciating the numbers that are tied to the game) on the use and history of baseball statistics.

    In this book, Guzzo runs through the conventional everyday baseball statistics, offers a brief statistical history of baseball, teaches the basics of keeping score and reading a box score, details how statistical appreciation can be applied at the park or watching TV, and gives a hint at the future of baseball statistics – as well as touching on the use of baseball stats in fantasy games.

    The New Ballgame” is a quick read. And, to be candid, if you’re the type of fan who can recite the formula for Bill James Win Shares calculation (without looking it up) and/or you have been a member of a historical review board at SABR for the last thirty years, then this is probably not the book for you.

    Nonetheless, if you’re a new fan to the game of baseball, or someone who has been a fan but has never really understood baseball statistics, I would recommend picking up “The New Ballgame.” You will learn something by reading this book. (Even this 30+ year fan of the game picked up some new tidbits when reading the brief statistical history of baseball section in the book.)

    Just as I have kept “How to Play Better Baseball” for over three decades, I could see someone still having “The New Ballgame” on their bookshelf thirty years from now.

    It’s that “first kiss” effect – many seem to always want to remember that first lip-lock. And, if you’re in need of that “first kiss” in terms of learning about baseball statistics, “The New Ballgame” is a great way to get introduced to something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

    Big Yankees Dates 1904-2003

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (14)

    Via this PDF File of a New York Times feature:

    October 8th 1904 First game taken by Greater New Yorks
    January 12th 1915 Yanks transferred, Peckinpaugh signs
    January 6th 1920 Ruth bought by New York Americans
    June 14th 1921 Ruth’s record hit helps Yanks win
    April 19th 1923 Yanks open new stadium, Ruth hits home run
    April 19th 1923 Size of stadium impresses crowd
    September 28th 1923 Gehrig hits first home run, Yanks win 8-3
    October 16th 1923 Yanks grasp title
    May 17th 1927 Meusel steals 3 bases
    October 1st 1927 Ruth crashes 60th to set new record
    October 9th 1927 Yankees overjoyed over clean sweep
    June 13th 1928 Gehrig gets 14 total bases including 2 “homers”
    October 10th 1928 Yankee’s “homers” put Cardinals to rout
    May 5th 1929 3 “homers” by Gehrig, Yank’s win 11-9
    August 12th 1929 Ruth hits 500th “homer”
    March 9th 1930 Ruth accepts $160,000 for 2 years
    May 23rd 1930 3 “homers” each for Ruth and Gehrig
    September 29th 1930 Gehrig streak ends
    August 22nd 1931 Ruth drives 600th “homer”
    June 4th 1932 Gehrig ties record with 4 straight “homers”
    October 2nd 1932 Ruth’s famous called shot
    October 3rd 1932 Yankees rout Cubs 13-6
    July 14th 1934 Babe Ruth hits 700th home run
    September 25th 1934 Babe Ruth’s farewell appearance
    May 4th 1936 DiMaggio’s first game as a Yankee
    October 7th 1936 Yanks win Series routing Giants
    June 14th 1937 DiMaggio’s 5 consecutive “homers”
    October 11th 1937 New records set in 1937 classic
    June 1st 1938 Gehrig extends string to 2000
    October 10th 1938 Yankees dominate final Series battle
    January 14th 1939 Ruppert owner of Yankees dies
    May 3rd 1939 Gehrig voluntarily ends streak at 2,130 straight games
    July 5th 1939 Fans roar tribute to Gehrig
    October 9th 1939 Yanks fourth straight World Series
    June 3rd 1941 Gehrig, iron man of baseball dies
    June 26th 1941 DiMaggio nearing record
    July 18th 1941 DiMaggio’s record streak
    October 7th 1941 Yanks win Series
    October 12th 1943 Awesome start in World Series finale
    October 3rd 1947 Berra first pinch hit home run
    October 7th 1947 MacPhail retires as President of Yankees
    November 28th 1947 DiMaggio named M.V.P for the third time
    June 14th 1948 Babe Ruth day
    August 17th 1948 Babe Ruth dies
    August 19th 1948 77,000 file by Ruth’s Bier; Cardinal to preside at Mass
    August 20th 1948 75,000 stand in rain for Babe Ruth’s funeral
    October 13th 1948 Stengel signs as Yank’s Manager
    October 10th 1949 “Won like Champs” is Stengel praise
    June 21st 1950 DiMaggio 2000th hit
    October 8th 1950 Triumphant Yanks in sixth sweep
    October 27th 1950 Rizzuto wins most valuable player
    April 18th 1951 Mantle debut
    May 2nd 1951 Mantle, first “homer”
    October 11th 1951 Jubilant victors pay tribute to Baur
    December 12th 1951 DiMaggio retires
    October 8th 1952 Yanks take Series down Dodgers 4-2
    April 18th 1953 Mantle’s 565 foot home run
    October 6th 1953 Yankee’s World Series triumph
    May 19th 1956 Mantle hits homer from both sides of plate
    May 31st 1956 Mantle hit almost leaves stadium
    October 1st 1956 Mickey Mantle wins triple crown
    October 9th 1956 Larson pitches only perfect game in World Series history
    October 11th 1956 Yankees take Series
    October 10th 1958 Yankees win Braves offer no excuse
    September 27th 1961 Maris hits No 60
    October 2nd 1961 Marris hits 61st
    October 10th 1961 Houk calls Yanks best all round team
    June 25th 1962 Yanks win in 22 inning record 7 hour game
    October 17th 1962 Yanks triumph again
    November 8th 1963 Elston Howard wins M.V.P award
    May 15th 1967 Mantle’s 500th “homer”
    March 2nd 1969 Mantle retires
    June 9th 1969 Mantle’s day at stadium
    January 4th 1973 Steinbrenner buys Yankees
    January 17th 1974 Mantle and Ford elected into Hall of Fame
    April 7th 1974 Yanks win; Shea debut
    October 15th 1976 Yankees win world series
    November 30th 1976 Yanks buy Reggie Jackson
    October 19th 1977 Jackson’s 3 “homers” power Yanks to title
    June 18th 1978 Guidry record “strike outs”
    August 12th 1980 Yanks win; 400th for Jackson
    May 5th 1981 Davis strikes out 8 in row
    December 15th 1985 Death of Roger Maris
    October 3rd 1986 Mattingly sets record for hits
    July 19th 1987 Don Mattingly ties record
    September 30th 1987 Mattingly breaks slam mark; clouts 6th of season
    February 26th 1994 Rizzuto makes Hall of Fame
    August 14th 1995 Mickey Mantle dies
    June 17th 1996 Mel Allen dies
    October 27th 1996 A return to glory, Yankees win World Series
    May 18th 1998 David Wells pitches perfect game
    September 28th 1998 Yankee’s glittering regular season
    October 22nd 1998 Yanks sweep Series and ensure legacy
    March 9th 1999 Joe DiMaggio, Yankee Clipper, dies at 84
    July 19th 1999 Cone pitches perfect game
    October 28th 1999 Yankees sweep Braves for 25th title
    October 27th 2000 Yankee’s third straight World Series title
    October 23rd 2001 Yankee’s 4 in a row
    June 14th 2003 Roger Clemens wins 300th game
    October 17th 2003 Yanks win 39th title

    Here’s a question – if you could choose what dates to add to this list, post-Boone HR, what would you add?

    Have there been many highlight moments in the last three seasons? Not in the post-season, by many folks opinion, I would imagine. How about the regular season? Any no-hitters, perfect games, or records broken?

    Would you suggest Rivera’s 400th career save? I would agree with that.

    A-Rod won an MVP in 2005. I would include that one too. Would you include A-Rod’s 400th and 450th career homeruns? OK, be honest – does anyone even remember the details on these?

    How about A-Rod’s three-homer game from 2005? Should that be on the list? Gee, has anyone but A-Rod had many memorable moments for the Yankees in the last 3 years?

    Maybe it’s just early and I’m tired? But, why can’t I think of many milestone moments for the Yankees over the last three years? Have things been that insignificant in Yankeeland the last three seasons?

    The Pinstripe Pen

    Posted by on February 24th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    There’s a relatively new Yankees blog on the scene: The Pinstripe Pen

    If you stop by, tell them that WasWatching.com sent ya!

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