• Happy Tom Tresh Day! (October 10th)

    Posted by on October 10th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    I would like to wish all my friends at Was Watching a joyous Tom Tresh Day.  So celebrate your Yankees fandom accordingly this holiday.   What? Columbus who? Don’t know him.   Just where was he on this date in 1962?  I know where Tom Tresh was:

    Yankee Stadium, Game 5 of the World Series, played before a crowd of over 63,000 (yeah, this was the old old stadium).

    The Series was tied up at 2 games apiece between the Yankees and the Giants—and with games 6 and 7 to be played in windy Candlestick Park a win today was seen as critical for the Bombers.  Could they pull it off?

    The pitching match-ups of aces Ralph Terry (23-12 regular season) and Jack Sanford (24-7) was a rematch of Game 2 when Sanford bested Terry 2-0 on a 3 hit shutout, so runs would probably be at a premium.   And, as it turned out, they were.

    The day did not start out well for Tresh and the Yankees.  The rookie came to bat in the bottom of the 1st with Richardson and Kubek on 1st and 2nd with none out and hit a line shot—right at Sanford, who stuck out his glove ,  snagged the ball, and flipped it to McCovey to catch Richardson off 1st.  Double Play.  The Yankees would not score.   But the Giants pushed a run across in the 3rd to take a 1-0 lead.   That was the score when Tresh came to bat to lead off the 4th inning and promptly doubled.  He was moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scampered home on a Sanford wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1.     But a Jose Pagan solo shot in the 5th put the Giants back on top 2-1.   The Yankees mounted their comeback (of sorts) one inning later.  Richardson led off with a single.  Tom Tresh laid down a sac bunt (yep #3 hitter sacrifices) to move Richardson to 2nd.  Richardson then moved to 3rd on a Mantle ground out and then, with Sanford facing Maris, the Giant ace unleashed a pitch that catcher Tom Haller couldn’t handle.   Passed Ball.  Game tied again 2-2.   And that was the score going into the bottom of the 8th when Tom Tresh came to the plate with Richardson and Kubek on 1st and 2nd again.  Only this time Sanford wouldn’t catch the ball hit off Tresh’s bat.  Neither would Felipe Alou.  It would be caught by some nameless, lucky Yankees fan in  the Right Field seats cheering hoarsely as Tresh rounded the bases with a 3 run homer.  5-2 Yankees.  What a moment!  And as the Giants went on to score a run in their half of the 9th and then went on to beat Whitey Ford in Game 6 it was perhaps a turning point in the Series.  Yes Ralph Terry got the win.  But the day, October 10th,  belonged to Tom Tresh.

    You know the rest.  Terry and Sanford matched up a 3rd time in Game 7.  McCovey’s liner to Richardson in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, the score 1-0,  and runners on 2nd and 3rd.   And the Yankees are Champions.

    I was 7 years old when the Yankees won that World Series.

    I would be 22 when they won their next.

    Such was my childhood.

    Happy Tom Tresh Day to all!

    Posada’s Last Game?

    Posted by on October 4th, 2011 · Comments (1)

    Unless AJ Burnett comes up big today’s ALDS contest will be the last game Jorge Posada  ever plays for the Yankees.   If this is the case I’m hoping he goes out with a bang—say 2 for 3 with a walk.  And why not?  Thus far he’s 4 for 8 with 4 walks in this series with what I believe to be the only triple ever hit in the Post Season by a 40 year old player with over 1,500 career games caught.

    Vaya Con Dios, Jorge.  You will be sorely missed.

    Happy Berthday To All of Us

    Posted by on September 21st, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Personally, I would have liked to have seen the Yankees clinch against Boston, but this will definitely do.

    The new magic number is now 3 (to clinch homefield in the ALCS).

    The Yankees also extended their record streak to 19 consecutive years finishing at least 12 games over .500 (1993-2011).  The old record was 18, held by (who else?) the New York Yankees from 1926-1943.

    And one wild thought:  What if the Wild Card is neither the Bosox or the Rays but the Angels?


    Happy Birthday To All of Us

    Posted by on September 20th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    Today was Tom Tresh’s birthday.  And mine.  And this morning my niece in Maryland (who’s a huge Yankees fan)  gave birth to an 8 pound 11 ounce baby boy.  What could possibly make this day better?

    How about the Yankees reducing their magic numbers to clinch a playoff spot and a divisional title to 2 and 3 respectively?   What a thoughtful present!  I must send that Ivan Nova and that Jonathan Papelbon some “thank yous.”

    The Closer: A Short History

    Posted by on September 14th, 2011 · Comments (1)

    1912 – Doc Crandell becomes  first pitcher with 100 career Games Finished

    1930 – Firpo Marberry becomes first pitcher with 200 career Games Finiehed

    1962 – Elroy Face becomes first pitcher with 300 career Games Finished

    1964 – Elroy Face becomes first pitcher with 400 career Games Finished

    1967 – Hoyt Wilhelm becomes first pitcher with 500 career Games Finished

    1971 – Hoyt Wilhelm becomes first pitcher with 600 career Games Finished

    1985 – Rollie Fingers becomes first pitcher with 700 career Games Finished

    1997 – Lee Smith becomes first pitcher with 800 career Games Finished

    2012 – Mariano Rivera will become first pitcher with 900 career Games Finished

    (He currently has 879)

    Rivera 600

    Posted by on September 14th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Bill James once opined that on the average you will see at least one future Hall of Famer in every half inning of play in any MLB game.  Well last night a future first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher got his 600th career save when a future first ballot Hall of Fame baserunner was tagged out by a future  first ballot Hall of Fame shortstop.  That’s a nifty clip for Cooperstown.

    The Next Derek Jeter?

    Posted by on September 13th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    Well, most likely not.  But if you’re a Yankees fan living in the Rochester area you’re proud as punch of Cito Culver:

    Cito Culver and Brian Dupra meet in NYPL Championship Series

    This Day In Yankees History

    Posted by on August 1st, 2011 · Comments (4)

    August, 1st, 1973.  The Yankees are in a virtual tie for 1st place in the A.L. East with the Baltimore Orioles.  This could be it!  The year the Yankees make it back to the World Series.  Visions of a pennant are swirling around my 17 year old head.  Is G.M. Lee McPhail’s  much vaunted “Five Year Plan” finally paying off?  Does manager Ralph Houk have the right pieces in play?  Yes! Yes! Oh, please Mama, say “yes!”  It all made perfect sense.  After all, this was the teams last season at the real Yankee stadium and each Bomber proudly wore a 5o year commemorative patch on his home jersey’s right sleeve.  Why not close the Grey Lady down the same way the opened her back in  1923?  That would make for a most harmonic closure, wouldn’t it?

    Then came today’s game

    Wednesday, August 1, 1973 1:35PM, @ Fenway Park

    For those who want to cut to the chase, skip to the 9th inning, with  Thurman Munson on 3rd,  Gene Michael at bat and the score 2-2.

    A squeeze play gone bad.  A horrendous home plate collision.  A bench clearing brawl.  A double ejection (Munson and Fisk).  And finally a two out game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th off Sparky Lyle by the immortal Mario Guerrero.

    And that was it.  From that point on the Yankees would post the worst record in the A.L. East and finish the season in 4th place at 80-82.  Ralph Houk would retire, almost in tears, almost immediately after the team’s last game, after almost 11 years,  frustrated by season after season of “almost” but not enough.    Gone, too, was McPhail, the architect of the club’s supposed resurgence to the level of contender, his “Five Year Plan” a stunning failure.   And gone, long gone, was the erudite and polished (and, some would say, snobbish) Michael Burke, who as team president had made mediocrity a staple under the eight year aegis of CBS.  All three gone.  Yankee Stadium gone.  And what was left?  This Steinbrenner guy?  WTF could he do?    He didn’t have the experience of a Houk, the skills of a McPhail or the brains of a Burke.   All he had was money—and not a whole lot of it, to tell the truth—and arrogance.

    Well, it seems like only yesterday to me.  As I say, I was only 17 on 8/1/73.  But in many ways today is my 38th birth-day as a real fan.   It was the turning point in the season,  in the season when I came to consciousness, you might say.  It’s when I brushed away all the front office BS images from the Yearbooks, programs, and WPIX placebos circulating about  to see the real portrait “warts and all”  actually playing on the field—and learned to accept it and own it.

    And I suppose it all started on this day in Yankees history.

    Major Day for Minor Star

    Posted by on July 28th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    Not quite the star that Abby Wambach is (yet); but he’s on his way.   Our local gazette has the story:

    Cito Culver belts two home runs against the Batavia Muckdogs

    These Yankees Are Young And Play For Free

    Posted by on June 6th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    …and they average less than 80 fans per game:

    No home advantage for college-aged Webster Yankees

    For those of you who are fans of organizations like the Cape Cod League this article should interest you—particularily with regards to the amateur draft.

    What To Do With Jorge? No, The Other Jorge

    Posted by on April 12th, 2011 · Comments (4)

    As a Yankees fan living in the Rochester area I always take an interest when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (or the S-WB Masons, as I call them) come to town. The following is from today’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle sports page, and it raises an interesting question in my mind: What to do with Jorge?

    Rochester Red Wings shut out by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

    Yankee Fan Is Champion

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2011 · Comments (9)

    …on JEOPARDY! , that is.   My niece, Megan Barnes, is a big Yankees fan (she likes Derek Jeter, of course) and lives in Baltimore.  My brother usually co-ordinates his Summer visits to her with the Yankees away schedule so the two of them can catch a game or two at Camden Yards—much cheaper than Yankee Stadium you know.

    Well, last night Megan was on JEOPARDY! facing off against a 5 time Champion and another challenger AND SHE WON!!  $37,000+ in fact.  What sealed it for her was Final Jeopardy.  The category was “Garments of the World” and the question (or answer rather) was a type of veiled article of clothing mentioned by Rudyard Kipling.  Now Megan’s father (my brother) served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and while he was in the former he sent his wife (Megan’s mom) a veiled outfit worn by Muslim women called a “burqa.”   So Megan wrote down “What is a burqa?” for her response AND SHE WAS RIGHT!   The other challenger wrote down “What is…?” and lost everything but $2.   And the reigning champ,  WHO IS A MUSLIM, wrote down “What is a sari?” (a garment worn by Hindu women, I believe) AND HE WENT “ALL IN!”  Yup, he lost EVERYTHING.  So the final score was:

    My Niece …….$37,000+

     Challenger 1………… $2

     Returning Champ……$0

    I don’t know about you, but I’m counting this as a good omen for the coming season.

    MLB’s Top 50 Prospects

    Posted by on January 26th, 2011 · Comments (25)

    A few Yankees on the list—not as many or as high up as you might like—but still, we’re represented:

    Click here for the list.

    Running A Ball Club With True Grit

    Posted by on January 4th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    This past week I took myself to the local multiplex to catch “True Grit.” Now I’m not a big filmgoer and no fan of the Coen brothers to be sure. But I had seen the John Wayne version in the theater back in 1969, enjoyed it immensely, and heard that the remake was even better. And I must say it was better. In fact, it was just about the best movie, Oater or not, that I had seen in quite some time, and both the box office and reviews are bearing that out. It’s on track to become the second highest grossing Western ever, and has an “Oscar Buzz” about it. I ate up this movie so well that I went out just yesterday, bought the book, and read it in about four hours. And I can tell you it’s the best novel I’ve read in some time as well. A real “American Classic.”

    After I put the book down last night I mulled over the character of Mattie Ross, the shrewest horsetrader and surest judge of men and ther peculiaralities in perhaps all of fiction, and I thought, “What an excellent general manager she’d make! She’d have her team in contention every year regardless of payroll.” And now that I’ve slept on it I’m even more certain on the point: Given my choices of any character in fiction to be General Manager of a major league baseball franchise I would go with Mattie Ross. There’s no Captain Ahab or Rhett Butler about it—although both were superb dramatis personae—It’s all Mattie Ross for me.

    Which leads me to the question for the day: If you could replace Brian Cashman with any character from fiction to run the Yankees, who would it be? The answer may tell you as much about your understanding of the role of a MLB GM as it does about your choices in reading material.

    It’s Not Just A Ford Jeter’s Driving Home

    Posted by on December 8th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    …it’s his teammates, too.

    With all the attention surrounding Jeter’s new deal I did a little checking on his career numbers and noticed that over the last 3 years had 69, 66, and 67 RBIs, and that if he collects 65 more rib-eyes in 2011 he’ll reach 1,200 for his career.  Now that might not seem like a lot to some of us but it’s more than Rocky Colavito or Joe Torre or Jack Clark—none of whom were slouches.  Heck, Chuck Klein, a Hall of Famer and a triple crown winner had a career total of 1,201 RBIs.  Or take George Foster.  He played 18 years in the majors, drove in 90 or more runs 7 times, even led the league 3 straight years, and retired with a career total of 1,239.  So, yeah, 1,200 career RBIs is rather significant.

       It’s even more significant when you realize that of Jeter’s thus far 9,322 career ABs only 509 (5.5%) have come while batting 3rd, 4th or 5th.   Just think of the great Yankee teams of 1996-2001.  Their 3rd, 4th and 5th batters were basically Paul O’Neill (1,269 RBIs), Bernie Williams (1,257) and Tino Martinez (1,271).  Good career totals all; but Jeter’s going to blow by them.

       So I got to wondering:  Who’s the big RBI man among hitters who didn’t bat 3rd, 4th or 5th for his career?   There’s Robin Yount.   1,406 career RBIs.   But he had over 3,200 ABs batting 3rd, 4th or 5th (about 35% of his career total).   Pudge Rodriguez has 1,313, but he’s had about 33.3% of his ABs from the middle of the order. Ditto Paul Molitor: 1,307 RBIs and 32.6% of his ABs from the RBI slots.  Now 33% or so might not seem like a heck of a lot at first blush, but it’s the equivalent in these cases of about 5 or 6 full seasons; and it is a heck of a lot more than Jeter who will be pushing  1,300 by the end of his current contract.  So that just leaves Pete Rose—unless I’m missing someone—with a career total of 1,314 RBIs while batting leadoff almost his entire career.   That’s 178 RBIs more than Jeter at this moment, and a possible target for him over the next 3 years. So will Jeter become the all time RBI leader for non-RBI men?   An oddish honor perhaps, but an honor nonetheless.

    Junior, Juice and Justice

    Posted by on June 4th, 2010 · Comments (25)

    Years ago (you may tell your grandchildren) Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez played on the same team.   Indeed, both were highly touted prospects, the #1 overall draft picks, and actually lived up to their hype.   Both broke into the majors as teenagers.   And both were All Stars before their 21st birthdays.   Strong up the middle?  The Seattle Mariners had the world’s best SS-CF combination ever.

    But it was not to be—at least not for all that long.  Junior and A-Rod would both leave small market Seattle for the greener pastures of Free Agency and from there their careers would follow two very different arcs.  Griffey, playing for his father’s team in his hometown (he was a graduate of Cincinnati’s Moeller High School),  would be beaten down by injuries and—for the most part—mediocre teams over the next eight years.  A-Rod would sell his bat to the highest bidder, eventually landing the fattest contract on the fattest team, a two time MVP and World Champion with the New York Yankees. 

    And it was not just their choices of teams that differentiated their legacies.    Due to his many injuries Junior became sort of a Pete Reiser-tragic hero figure—what could have been?   While  A-Rod, with his steriod admissions,  became more like a  Barry Bonds-tainted idol character—what should have been?

    But, in the end, Junior and A-Rod will meet up in Cooperstown, former teamates wearing different caps and playing to different crowds, and their stories will be joined together again at last.

    Treshfan Gets Called Up

    Posted by on May 31st, 2010 · Comments (4)

    First of all I would like to offer my thanks to  Steve for giving me the opportunity to join the team, as it were, and also to those who have welcomed me to the clubhouse.   I hope to fit in here as a sort of Ramiro Pena —I’ll contribute when and where I can while hoping not to embarrass myself and  letting the big sticks in the lineup do most of the talking.

    As my brief little bio states I have been a Yankees fan since 1962.  I have seen the team bought and sold, torn down and built up,winning World Championships and finishing dead last, all while playing in four different home ball parks.   It’s been quite the experience—and continues to be—and I’d be pleased to share a bit of it with you.