June 2009

Starting lineups – 6/24 vs. Atlanta

Yankees

Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
Gardner CF
Cervelli C
Chamberlain P

Chamberlain P

Braves

McLouth CF
Escobar SS
C. Jones 3B
McCann C
G. Anderson LF
Kotchman 1B
Francoeur RF
K. Johnson 2B
Kawakami P

Kawakami P

Holy Geez! What happened while I was gone?

By: Joe Auriemma

To say that I went off the grid for a little bit is an understatement. On June 12th, I got married to my lovely wife Kelly. I’m quickly learning to say things like that in the early stages of married life. However, the week leading up to the wedding and then the honeymoon thereafter has made me lose touch with the team that I not only have been covering for the last eight seasons, but watched faithfully since I was a little boy.

wang_blog_062409.jpgBefore I left, the Yankees again got swept by the Red Sox but were still in decent shape in the division — even after the Fenway massacre. I would try and get some sports updates in Aruba, but I was lost. It wasn’t until I came home and watched the team lose to Atlanta 4-0 and saw Chien-Ming Wang fall to 0-6 on the season that I realized how much trouble the Yankees could be in soon. The Red Sox are now five games up in the division, the Yankees still have not beaten them, and they are losing series to the Nationals and the Marlins. No offense to the Nationals and Marlins, but the Yankees that were rolling along in May wouldn’t have had that much trouble with any team.

Are the Red Sox still in their head? Will the offense start to show up again? How long are they going to go with Wang continuing to lose and not give them length in his starts? What happened to that powerhouse that we all saw in May winning day in and day out?

arod_062409_blog.jpgOver the last 13 games, since the beginning of the Sox series, the Yankees are 4-9 and the offense has sputtered. They are averaging four runs per game while hitting .240, and have hit one home run per contest over this span. To make things worse, A-Rod’s batting average is now down to .207. The previous 29 games before this 4-9 stretch, the Yankees were 21-8.  Over that time the Yankees were hitting .279, scoring 5.8 runs per game and hitting 1.8 home runs per contest. The numbers speak for themselves.

This team is at a crossroads right now and it could start spiraling out of control sooner than later. I still think this team is good enough to compete for a championship, but they need to start answering some of the questions surrounding them and move on.

Well I’ve finally given in and I have my own Twitter account. You can follow me at https://twitter.com/JoeAuriemmaNYY. I’ll update it as much as possible, but I’m still on my Facebook kick. I’ll catch you next time.

The Pulse of New York

Every Tuesday, YES Blog takes the pulse of New York on the hottest topics being talked about right now in the world of sports. What’s your take on the below issues?


How many games will the Yankees win this weekend at Citi Field against the Mets?(polls)

Who will start at first base in the All-Star game for the American League?(answers)

Who should the Knicks take with the 8th pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft?(polling)

Which current division leader is least likely to win the division?(surveys)

How many starts will CC Sabathia miss with his biceps injury?(trends)

Who is to blame for the over-coverage of the Brett Favre situation?(poll)

Did A-Rod do the right thing?

By Glenn Giangrande

arod275_062309.jpg

I don’t care what the numbers say. I firmly believe Alex Rodriguez should have underwent his major hip surgery the first time around.

People, who would argue in favor of A-Rod’s decision to have a first, “less invasive” procedure ahead of another operation after the season, would probably start with a couple of factors — the Yankees’ performance when he first returned to the lineup and the positive effects he had on Mark Teixeira, whom he was batting behind. Well, the Yankees have reverted to the scuffling form they showed in April, going 4-8 over their last 12 games heading into Tuesday’s game in Atlanta. They would be 3-9 if not for Luis Castillo’s game-ending error in the first game of the Subway Series on June 12, and save for a couple of big games versus the Mets in that stretch, their offensive numbers are down sharply. As for Teixeira, he has said that A-Rod’s presence has been a big help, but let’s be honest. Big Tex was eventually going to start hitting regardless of who’s batting behind him, even if the caliber of pitches he’d see would be down. He’s a known slumper in April, so who’s to say he wouldn’t have turned it around even without Rodriguez? It’s unfair to assume that A-Rod was the sole answer to Teixeira’s early-season woes.

Now the Yankees are being forced to give A-Rod steady rest, and he’s started to become a distraction again, albeit a mild one. Players with tired bodies should not be out on the town until 2:30 a.m., regardless of how famous they and their company might be. There were rumors about the possibility of Rodriguez’ two-game sitdown in Florida being some sort of punishment, and the conference call in which he was told that he’s “hurting the team.” There’s plenty of time for the superstar to get himself right, and as Michael Kay has pointed out on the YES broadcasts, A-Rod’s timeline is comparable to that of a Major Leaguer just coming out of Spring Training. But, with the prospect of another surgery looming, Rodriguez could wind up doing worse damage to his hip by playing, hurting himself and the Yankees in the process.

A cybertour around the A.L.

by Glenn Giangrande

I’m the kind of guy who likes to be plugged in. A few days ago, while I was sitting through the five-and-a-half hour rain delay that turned the Yankees’ 1:05 game versus Washington into about a 6:30 game, I finally gave in and joined Twitter. It was partially out of boredom and because Facebook happens to be blocked at the YES Studios. I have to say that I enjoy it, and the best part has to be being able to track celebrities or sports stars. Paul Pierce and Shaq were in the first wave of people and websites I agreed to follow, along with the official page of the Jets and the phenomenal blog about my Islanders, “Point Blank,” among others. You can find me at http://twitter.com/glenngiangrande. The page is a work in progress though. Shout out to my first follower who’s a fellow blogger, @yankeemeginphl!

The thing we need to worry about on sites like Twitter and Facebook are the imposters, but it’s great to be able to get post-game reactions from players such as Nick Swisher, for example. So in honor of the social networking boon, I thought I’d summarize the season thus far for the American League teams along with some of their problems when applicable, Facebook status update style. Now since Twitter users can link their Facebook status updates to be on both pages, the status updates are limited to no more than 140 characters. Here’s what the members of the Junior Circuit might say if they had pages…

AL East

* The New York Yankees are glad to be where we are given the injuries we’ve dealt with. Could use a bullpen arm and maybe an outfield upgrade.

* The Boston Red Sox are lovin’ life atop the division, but we’re cursing the WBC for ruining Dice-K! Although, Smoltzie could fix that issue.

* The Tampa Bay Rays are really hoping that last season wasn’t a fluke. Yes, Zobrist is this good! We’ll be a-o-k once Price gets on track.

* The Toronto Blue Jays are wondering who has the voodoo doll. How many more pitchers do we need to lose? Eh, we’re still not moving Halladay.

* The Baltimore Orioles hate being in the basement. Time to listen to offers on everyone age 30 and up! How many Wieters shirts can we print?

AL Central

* The Detroit Tigers
are back! 2008 was an aberration. We’ll cruise if Magglio gets himself right. Verlander emerging as a Cy Young candidate?

* The Minnesota Twins are wondering what the heck happened to our bullpen! Can we get  some consistency from Liriano? We all heart Joe Mauer.

* The Chicago White Sox knew Alexei Ramirez would catch fire. Beckham may need more seasoning. We can make a run if Contreras steps it up!

* The Kansas City Royals are down. So much for that great start. Glad we locked up Greinke, now Gordon needs to make strides when healthy.

* The Cleveland Indians are wondering where it went wrong. Hopefully Grady avoids further damage. We could get some assets for C-Lee in trade.

AL West

* The Texas Rangers could really use a veteran in the rotation, though Nolan’s philosophy is paying dividends! Hope Josh gets well asap.

* The Los Angeles Angels have gotten solid production out of Morales after not choosing to spend big in the winter. 2nd half runaway out West?

* The Seattle Mariners are wondering if the Bedard trade was worth it, but the Putz deal has worked! Not sure if we’re contenders though.

* The Oakland A’s would have no problems letting Matt Holliday walk and taking some draft picks, but let’s see what the highest bidder has!

Starting Lineups 6/21/09: Yankees vs. Marlins

yankees.jpg

Yankees

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Gardner CF
CC Sabathia P

CC Sabathia P

marlins.jpg

Marlins

Chris Coghlan LF
Wes Helms 3B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Jorge Cantu 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
Ronny Paulino C
Cody Ross CF
Brett Carroll RF
Chris Volstad P

Chris Volstad P

Starting Lineups 6/20/09: Yankees vs. Marlins

Yankees

yankees.jpg

Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Angel Berroa 3B
A.J. Burnett P

A.J. Burnett P

Marlins


marlins.jpg
Chris Coghlan LF
Emilio Bonifacio 3B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Jorge Cantu 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
Jeremy Hermida RF
Cody Ross CF
John Baker C
Josh Johnson P

Josh Johnson P

Yankees vs. Marlins: 6/19/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgNOTE: A-Rod won’t start until Sunday due to fatigue.

YANKEES (37-29)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada C
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera CF
Angel Berroa 3B
Andy Pettitte P

Pitching: Andy Pettitte (6-3, 4.52)

marlins.jpgMARLINS (33-35)
Chris Coghlan LF
Wes Helms 3B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Jorge Cantu 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
Ronny Paulino C
Jeremy Hermida RF
Cody Ross CF
Sean West P

Pitching: Sean West (2-1, 3.00)

The pinstriped bonds that bind

joba_karter_225_061909.jpgBy Jon Lane
This was first published during Father’s Day weekend two years ago. Two months later my son was born and it’s since had a deeper meaning. Happy Father’s Day to all who have been blessed to enjoy it.

_______________________

“I’ve tried all the major religions … and most of the minor ones … and the only church that truly feeds the soul —

day in and day out — is the Church of Baseball.”
— Annie Savoy, “Bull Durham”

You frequently read and hear about the impact of our national pastime and how it makes a difference in people’s lives. Some

look at NFL Sundays as their religious day. Once a week they vent a week’s worth of professional frustration by screaming and

yelling at a television set or blending in with 70,000 people doing the same thing. Others prefer the daily laid-back routine

of baseball, which I think has a stronger awareness of its history.

Such history is passed on by generations, from father to child.

Whether it’s the tangible ballpark atmosphere, or how a game is suddenly and dramatically altered with one swing, many credit

baseball for welding a relationship created at childbirth, and tethered by each game of catch and every family outing

consuming nine innings lasting between two and four hours: That of Dad and his kid.

Baseball fed the soul of Susan Sarandon’s character in “Bull Durham,” and it’s fostered the unique bond of many fathers with

their daughters and sons, including my own.

My dad’s mission statement was to teach me to do what’s right and if I wanted something, I had to earn it. But that didn’t

mean I wasn’t allowed to be a kid, and part of being a kid were those games of catch and the times when I’d rejoice after

each Yankees victory, or complain after every defeat.

Believe it or not, as much as the Yankees win now, there were once plenty of defeats. Growing up in the late 1980s and early

’90s, the Yankees’ record declined each season until bottoming out at 67-95 in 1990. Yet my dad and I persevered through all

the taunts, and were rewarded when, together, we watched a handful of historic events as the team made its way back on top:

Jim Abbott’s no-hitter (1993), Dwight Gooden’s no-no (1996) and David Wells’ perfect game (1998).

Many consider it taboo to mention the words “no-hitter” or “perfect game” while potential history is unfolding, but

television announcers say it so fans can stay tuned and spread the word so more can watch. My father was helping my cousin

tend a garden on May 17, 1998, when I informed them what Wells was doing. Dad dropped everything and came in. My cousin, a

Mets fan, stayed loyal to his tomatoes.

It actually wasn’t until I had reached my adolescent years when he finally took me to the holiest of baseball holies —

Yankee Stadium. We’d attend about once a year, and it was always for Old Timer’s Day, a chance to continue my baseball

education, and prove how much smarter I was each passing season.

There have been many father-son combinations in in Major League history, some even at the same positions. Here’s a list of several prominent duos.
Position
Father
Son
1B Cecil Fielder Prince Fielder
2B Sandy Alomar Roberto Alomar
SS Dick Schofield Dick Schofield
3B Buddy Bell David Bell
LF Bobby Bonds Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey, Sr. Ken Griffey, Jr.
RF Felipe Alou Moises Alou
C Randy Hundley Todd Hundley
P Mel Stottlemyre Todd Stottlemyre
P Floyd Bannister Brian Bannister
P Clyde Wright Jaret Wright
Mgr George Sisler Dick Sisler
Umpire Harry Wendelstedt Hunter Wendelstedt
Umpire Ed Runge Paul Runge

Once I became a regular at the Stadium, a pregame tradition was born: “The Walk,” which took us past the line of souvenir

shops and sports bars that hugged River Ave., Babe Ruth Plaza and the central meeting place known as “The Bat Pole.” During

that time, both my legs and baseball acumen received rigorous workouts.

My dad admitted playing the occasional game of hooky as a kid, forgoing a boring day of math and Spanish — especially

Spanish — to watch his favorite, Mickey Mantle, hit home runs, some launched hard enough to land in the old Polo Grounds on

the other side of the Harlem River. One of our more memorable walks was on Aug. 12, 1995, the day before Mantle died. My

father, knowing Mantle was taking his final cuts, shared his favorite stories, most known by any casual fan, but extra

poignant hearing it from someone who saw him in person.

Old Timer’s Day for us was when dad and son were joined by mother and either younger brother, random family member or good

friend. We’d do “The Walk” and enter the Stadium in time to watch Yankees legends prove they can still whack a baseball

during batting practice. That would segue into the highlight of the day, something more meaningful that seeing Reggie Jackson

go yard or Ron Guidry’s slider still take the twists and turns of a Wet ‘N Wild Attraction.

Our favorite part of Old Timer’s Day was listening to Frank Messer (and these days Michael Kay) introduce the greats of the

distant and recent past. Neither of us are marketing geniuses, so we titled it “The Guess Who Game.” As the emcee began to

read off a player’s career highlights, the first one to guess the correct player prior to his introduction would earn a

point. For example, “On Sept. 1, 1963, he became only the ninth player to homer from each side of the plate in a single game

… ladies and gentlemen please welcome back, Tooommmmm Tresh!”

Guys like Tresh and obscure names (to me) like Stan Bahnsen, were introduced first, which would give my dad an early lead.

But then details like “slick, pesky outfielder who played those games at Shea Stadium” would click and I would say “Elliott

Maddox,” Once Mickey Rivers walked on the field, I’d start my comeback, as more stars from the teams of the 1970s and ’80s

were introduced.

By the time the ceremonies concluded with Reggie, Don Mattingly, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford — and many years ago, Mantle and

Joe DiMaggio — we’d be about even. There were never any bets to be cashed in, for it was never over money or a hot lunch,

but about enjoying a common experience.

A few years after one of our early excursions, I arranged for tickets to a Yankees-Mets game at Shea Stadium. Dad and I

walked to the gate when I unveiled a Father’s Day surprise: “Dad, the seats are on me.” They were box seats. It could have

been the Bob Uecker special, but it didn’t matter. My dad’s reaction said it all: “Thanks, kid.”

No, Dad, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.

What went wrong

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are in Miami seething after a 2-4 road trip capped off by dropping two out of three to the hideous Washington Nationals. They are 3-6 in their last nine games, which would be 2-7 if not for Luis Castillo. The mojo they showed for much of last month has been hiding along with the sun during this June swoon, and it started after the first pitch at Fenway Park on June 9. I’m afraid to inform you that’s not a coincidence.

Here were the issues during a miserable Thursday at Yankee Stadium:

? A five-hour, 26-minute rain delay, leaving everyone not employed as a farmer cursing Mother Nature. That said, you cannot control the weather and the Yankees did right by their fans by allowing them to move down from the upper deck and issuing rain checks to a future, non-premium game either this season or next. That’s more than can be said about the boneheads at the USGA, who probably buckled under public pressure when they actually decided to treat their customers fairly by allowing tickets for Thursday to be used on Monday. The fact that it came down to that was downright stupid.  

? As far as what the Yankees can control, Joba Chamberlain continues to struggle. Given his inconsistency, Chien-Ming Wang’s attempted recovery, Phil Hughes ready and waiting and the Pedro Martinez rumors, those Joba to the bullpen calls are getting louder. I don’t see Pedro coming to the Bronx and you can’t call for Joba to be yanked from the rotation every time he’s not lights out. Leave him be.

? Seven runs in 26 innings – two in the last 18 – against the Nationals’ pitching staff? Alright, even the best teams are shot down by pitchers on a hot streak, like John Lannan. But it is inexcusable to not score one run off Craig Stammen. This history of morphing no-names into a hybrid of Cy Young and Walter Johnson is ridiculous. How is it that Stammen owned a 5.86 ERA in five starts prior to yesterday against teams that had never seen him either?

? Bill Madden documents such a track record that goes back to Billy Traber (remember him?). Other immortals on the growing list are Adam Eaton and Daryl Thompson, and Fernando Nieve remains fresh in everyone’s mind.

? The Yankees had chances to win yesterday and Wednesday night – and failed against that vaunted Nationals bullpen. For the series they batted 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position (3-for-13 on Tuesday, a win). No wonder why Joe Girardi was in a sour mood.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Girardi said. “The more we talk about it, the more people think about it.”

The truth hurts: The Yankees are 1-10 against the Red Sox and Phillies, and 36-19 vs. the rest of baseball. They play three decent teams during this road trip (Marlins, Braves, Mets). Tonight they face Marlins left-hander Sean West – for the very first time. A good showing and most of the bitter taste of the past two days will be gone. But it starts with Andy Pettitte working beyond the fifth inning, which he hasn’t done in three of his past four starts. And it needs to continue with the offense reawakening against West, who has alternated between great and mediocre.

Stay tuned for a Father’s Day tribute and tonight’s lineups. After that I’ll be away for the next seven days. Enjoy the games.