October 2009

World Series Game 3: Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (1-1/103-59)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Andy Pettitte P

Pitching: Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16)

phillies.jpgPHILLIES (1-1/93-69)
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Pedro Feliz 3B
Carlos Ruiz C
Cole Hamels P

Pitching: Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32)

Business as usual

By Jon Lane
The Yankees down a game after Cliff Lee turned out their lights, what did Joe Girardi tell them before Game 2?

Nothing. He didn’t need to.

“Our club ha been resilient all year,” Girardi said. “The one thing that we’ve been able to do is we’ve went through some tough losses and we’ve seemed to bounce back. It was just business as usual for us today.”

The usual business came in the form of big hits from Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui. Ahead in the count, Pedro Martinez threw two curveballs. One was low and outside, and Matsui made the adjustment and put a good swing on it.

Two Matsui-related decisions, one immediate, the other in the offseason. Without the DH, the Yankees will have to determine if they want to put Matsui and his balky knees in the outfield, where Matsui said he’s confident he can handle a full workload. After the season, the major question is whether the pending free agent will return for another year in the Bronx.

Matsui was asked if he stops to look around extra carefully and enjoy it a bit more, considering this may be his final opportunity to win a World Series as a Yankee.

He and his knees be ready for outfield if Girardi decides and to play as long as needed

“I’m not thinking about my contract, so I really don’t have an answer for that,” Matsui said. “Even with the atmosphere changes, how I feel and what I do to prepare and my approach at the plate, those things just don’t change for me.

“I don’t feel like I really look at it in terms of success or failure. Obviously every year my goal is to be a World Champion, but I don’t look at it that way.”

_______________________

Mariano Rivera’s 21st World Series appearance moved him past Mike Stanton for second place on the Yankees’ all-time list behind Whitey Ford’s 22, Mariano Rivera threw 39 pitches in two innings, his World Series high, topping 35 in Game 3 against the Braves in 1996. He still extended his own record of 10 Fall Classic and 38 postseason saves. It was also his fourth two-inning save and lowered his career ERA to 1.09.

Despite the workload, Girardi is confident that with Friday’s off day he’ll be OK for Game 3 Saturday night.

_______________________

Was Derek Jeter bunting on his own in the seventh inning? With two strikes, yes, and then the sign was taken off.

“Derek Jeter is a very smart baseball man,” Girardi said. “If he feels he can do the job in that situation, I’m not going to bark at him. He felt he could get it done and he didn’t get it done.”

So why bunt instead of hit-and-run?

“I don’t really like to talk too much about strategy,” Girardi said.

_______________________

Stop the presses: Alex Rodriguez is 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in his first World Series appearance. Lay off the haterade, Girardi isn’t benching him.

“I know he’ll bounce back,” Girardi said. “We’ll get it going with him in Philly.”

_______________________

You knew Yankees fans would give Martinez a rude reception. Par for the course, but one fan stood out when Martinez exited the game after throwing six innings of three-run ball with eight strikeouts.

“It’s a new Yankee Stadium, but the fans remain the fans,” Martinez said. “I remember one guy sitting right in the front row with his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, ‘Your daughter is right beside you. It’s a little girl. It’s a shame you’re saying all these things.’ I’m a father myself. How can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?”

Love Pedro or hate him, we continue to witness one of the greatest (if not the greatest) pitcher of this generation.

“I tell you what, he may not have 96 to 98 (MPH) he did back then when he was a little bit younger, but his command was every bit as good as it was back then,” said Jerry Hairston, who started over the slumping Nick Swisher due in part to his .370 lifetime average against the right-hander. “He was painting pitches at my knees, inner half (of the plate) basically at will on a couple of guys.”

Hairston, like A-Rod playing in his first World Series game, went 1-for-3.
 
“He’s always been a great pitcher and for him to adjust and adjust to what he’s got now, that’s a credit to him,” Hairston said. “He’s really pitched well this postseason and it was a tough win for us.

Game 2 Live Blog

stadium_640.jpgBy Jon Lane
Pedro Martinez is certainly a polarizing figure. One day after his entertaining rant,
during which he recalled the altercation between he and then Yankees
bench coach Don Zimmer during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Zimmer told the St. Petersburg Times,
“Pedro is full of crap. It’s what, six years later? If Pedro wants to
be a big man, I don’t care what he says.” He did, however, soften his
stance during an interview with the New York Daily News. “I was definitely wrong and Pedro didn’t do nothing,” he said.

This
was my favorite line from yesterday: “I might be at times the most
influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium.” I recall
sitting in the bleachers on September 14, 1998 when he squared off
against Orlando Hernandez. Pedro and El Duque each struck out nine
batters, except Pedro gave up three runs to Duque’s none. Duque went
the distance in a 3-0 win, but that didn’t douse the enthusiasm of a
large contingent from Pedro’s native Dominican Republic who took over
the front row, and proudly waved their country’s flag. That was years
before the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was re-ignited and Martinez found
himself on New York’s most hated list.

Speaking of influential, Jay Z and Alicia Keys are performing on the field to a slew of flashbulbs.

Speaking
of influential and inspiring, Derek Jeter was named the winner of the
Roberto Clemente award for commitment to community service.

Chat with you right before first pitch.

7:51 p.m.
Former Yankees outfielder and current YES Yankees analyst Paul O’Neill
throws out the first pitch. Those familiar chants of “Paul Oh Neill!”
echoed around the Stadium, along with loud boos for Philly’s starting
pitcher.

7:57 p.m. A.J. Burnett warming up to Marilyn
Manson’s “The Beautiful People.” Awesome. First pitch 7:59 p.m.
(strike). Game time temperature 52 degrees.

8:04 p.m. A
clean 12-pitch first for Burnett. For Yankees fans’ sake, Bad A.J. must
stay away. For now they’re getting a thrill taunting the heck out of
Pedro Martinez.

pedro_350_102909.jpg8:14 p.m. Pedro in the first: Three up, three down, two strikeouts. He’s come to play.

8:28 p.m.
Ladies and Gents: Bad A.J. Throws 25 pitches, a few in the dirt, and
follows up Raul Ibanez’s ground-rule double that Johnny Damon could
have caught by serving Matt Stairs’ RBI single to left. Of course,
Ibanez was immediately waved home to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

8:42 p.m. Wow.
Ibanez’s great diving catch robs Robbie Cano and saves a run. The good
news is the Yankees are making Pedro work (20 pitches in the second as
of this writing).

9:02 p.m. Burnett at his best is
electrifying. At his worst he puts 50,000-plus to sleep. There’s never
middle ground. As far as “rhythm” between Burnett & Molina, even if
there was a DH in Philly, I think you’re seeing the end of this
experiment.

9:05 p.m. BIG strikeout of Ryan Howard with
two on and two out; Burnett deserves credit there. Howard is 2-for-14
(.143) with eight strikeouts lifetime against the Yankees’ right-hander.

9:29 p.m. Life
for the Yankees and life in this once-quiet stadium thanks to Mark
Teixeira’s moonshot to right field. Walking the concourse, fans were
going through the motions. Just like that, one swing from Texieira
snapped out of it. The bomb also awakened the Pedro haterizers.

9:46 p.m.
He drives you crazy, but Burnett somehow gets it done. He erases a
one-out double by No. 9 hitter Carlos Ruiz by retiring two good hitters
Jimmy Rollins (strikeout) and Shane Victorino (pop up to third). The
latter was on the first pitch, which at 86 total pitches affords him at
least the sixth inning.

9:54 p.m. Memo to Johnny Damon:
Why swing at the first pitch with Derek Jeter on second, Pedro’s pitch
count in the 80s and the Phillies’ pen warming up? Fans in front of me
waved their hands in disgust after Damon’s pop up landed in Ryan
Howard’s glove. Golden opportunity to forge ahead wasted.

10:08 p.m. A-Rod
is 0-for-7 in the World Series. There are people planning to wait on
hold for two hours for a one-minute platform telling their favorite
host that he and not Nick Swisher should have been benched.

matsui_250_102909.jpg10:12 p.m. The
Yankees needed another big hit. Leave it to Godzilla to deliver. The
Yankees face a major decision on whether to bring him back for another
season. Matsui may have to compromise if he wants to stay.

10:20 p.m.

At 97 pitches I wondered if Burnett had enough for one more inning
(last week in SoCal he did not). Needed 11 pitches to retire the
Phillies in order, with two called strikeouts, this time he did. His
night is done (108 pitches). Despite what Joe Girardi said before the
game, expect Joba Chamberlain to be the bridge to Mariano Rivera.

I was wrong. Rivera is warming. He’ll go for the six-out save.

10:31 p.m.

Jorge Posada pinch-hitting for Molina with runners on first and second
and no one out in the 7th. Pedro was lifted (107 pitches) and left,
head down, to loud boos.The Yankees going for the kill.

10:36 p.m.
3-1 Yankees after Posada drives one home. Still nobody out with the top
of the order coming up. Unless the Yankees blow it open, Rivera is
locking this one down.

10:41 p.m. Still wondering why Jeter was bunting, especially with two strikes. Made no sense.

10:48 p.m.
More
controversy thanks to the clowns in blue. First base umpire Brian
Gorman and the band of idiots failed to see that Damon’s line drive was
not caught by Howard. It bounced, which is why Howard threw to second
in the first place. It was ruled a double play that ended the inning.
Yet another terrible call, but the bad karma started with Jeter’s
decision to bunt. Remember that if the Phillies get to Rivera.

11 p.m. It’s been discussed to exhaustion, but what Rivera did
to escape the eighth inning, no other closer that participated in the
2009 postseason gets done.

World Series Game 2: Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (0-1/103-59)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr. RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C

Pitching: A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04)

phillies.jpgPHILLIES (1-0/93-69)
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Matt Stairs DH
Pedro Feliz 3B
Carlos Ruiz C

Pitching: Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.63)

Hairston in, Swisher out

hairston275.jpgBy Jon Lane
Nick Swisher is not in tonight’s starting lineup. Jerry Hairston Jr. is starting in right field. Joe Girardi cited Hairston’s .370 lifetime average against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez. It also hurt Swisher that he’s batting .114 in the postseason.

“It was something that I kicked around in my head, and I talked to my staff when we got here, and we talked about it. We made the decision to go with Jerry,” Girardi said. “Swish is a team guy. He understands, and I told him be ready because you never know when we might need you, and he said OK.”

The last time Hairston faced Martinez was July 26, 2004 when his Orioles played Pedro’s Red Sox. Hairston went 2-for-3 in that game, but despite his overall good numbers, he had just four hits in 19 at-bats in 2002 and ’03.  It makes you wonder if Girardi would have gone this route if Swisher weren’t batting .114. Then again, we’ve seen during this postseason that he’s not afraid to open the binder and go the unconventional route.

“I can’t tell you because we’re in position where he is struggling, but Jerry has real good numbers off Pedro,” Girardi said. “We also like the way they kind of match up against each other, and that kind of shows up in the numbers, so we thought we’d give Jerry [the start] tonight.”

Johnny Damon lockers next to Swisher (we hope to get a comment from Swisher before or after batting practice). Damon senses that Swisher will find himself involved in the game at some point. Despite his poor performance, you can look at Swisher as a power threat from both sides of the plate now sitting in reserve.

“Obviously Nick wants to be the guy who helps carry us to a World Championship,” Damon said. “At this time of year it’s about team. Hairston has had some success off of Pedro before, and hopefully he has it tonight. Right now we’re just trying to win as a team, and hopefully what we’re doing tonight will work out for us.”

Here are the lineups. Back with more later.

5:11 p.m. Panic in the Bronx? If you’re a big chunk of the Yankees’ fan base, maybe, depending on your point of view (there were those on watch after the Yankees lost Games 3 and 5 of the ALCS). Damon said during his press briefing that the mood in the clubhouse is “good” and it’s business as usual.

“Every game in the postseason is a must-win,” Damon said, “and we feel like we must win this one.”

girardi275.jpgGirardi remembers the 1998 ALCS against the Indians, when the Tribe to a 2-1 lead over a Yankees team that won 114 games and when George Steinbrenner was still in full force. The Yankees won the next three — two in Cleveland — to win their 35th pennant.

“I remember butterflies in my stomach,” Girardi said, “but besides that, I don’t remember a lot. I remember having a good feeling about that club because we had won so many games and we knew the challenge ahead of us in Cleveland. Maybe I could draw from that experience and say, you know what, I felt good then. I feel good now.

“I can’t necessarily think for my players and know what’s going on in their gut, but as I’ve said all along, I believe this club is very resilient and has a confidence about them.”

History is against the Yankees. Game 1 winners have won the World Series 64 of 104 times, including six straight and 11 of the last 12. In 2002, the Angels dropped Game 1 to the Giants before rallying to win in seven. YES’ Yankees analyst Ken Singleton was on another one of those exceptions. In 1983, his Orioles lost Game 1 to the Phillies, but rebounded to win the next four and the championship.

6:57 p.m. Swisher’s reaction to the benching. As expected, he handled it well:

“Jerry’s got great numbers off him. Hey, let him go out there and do his thing,” Swisher said. “Obviously it’s frustrating and I’m upset, but it’s a team game. It’s about playing everybody we have.

“It’s Skip’s thing and I’m behind him, just like I’m behind everyone on this team.”

hughes_250_102909.jpgStruggling right-hander Phil Hughes, unavailable after walking the first and only two batters he faced in Game 1, regretted baking at plate umpire Gerry Davis over balls and strikes, citing the emotion of the moment.

“I went back and looked at the pitches, and they weren’t as close as I thought they were, so it falls on me,” Hughes said.

“I didn’t execute my pitches. Walks are killers. We can’t afford to have those, especially when we’re trying to keep the game 2-0 like it was. To let those four runs come across really hurt us. I feel like the weak link right now is our bullpen.”

The pen, flammable the early portion of the season, became a major strength after Hughes took over the role as Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man, posting a 1.40 ERA in 44 appearances. In the playoffs, however, his ERA is 9.64 through 4 2/3 innings pitched in seven appearances. Girardi said he would continue to go to Hughes in the eighth, but don’t be surprised to see Joba Chamberlain in that role if it’s a tight game.

Rather than being being aggressive and attacking the zone like he’s done all year, Hughes admitted he’s relying too much on scouting reports.

“That’s something I need to get back to,” Hughes said.

Chris Shearn interviewed Hughes exclusively. Watch it here.

Game 1 wrap

By Jon Lane
Not much you can say about tonight. Cliff Lee was that good. There
was nothing the Yankees could do. The teams from 1927 and 1961 wouldn’t
touch the Phillies’ lefty on this night. Think back to Sandy Koufax
knocking the bats out of the hands of the ’63 team.

“I kept it simple tonight,” said Alex Rodriguez (0-for-4, 3 Ks). “He
kept it even more simple. He threw the ball well. When a guy throws
like that, you tip your cap and move on.”

A-Rod is still batting a healthy .388 in the postseason. Mark Teixeira
(.186), meanwhile, is back on the skids. After compiling five hits in
the final three games of the ALCS, Teixeira went hitless in four
at-bats. He evaded questions on what went wrong, deflecting all credit
to Lee.

“I think Tex is going to be fine. You take tonight out of it. With the
exception of [Derek} Jeter, we didn’t have any good swings at all.”

Any other night, CC Sabathia might have emerged victorious, but he
admitted he wasn’t at his sharpest (113 pitches/70 strikes). For the
fifth time in his playoff career, Sabathia allowed a pair of homers in
one game, the third time to one batter (Chase Utley).

“I felt pretty good,” Sabathia said. “I had three walks but I was behind a lot of guys. It was just one of those days.”

Phil
Hughes’ postseason troubles continue. He walked the first two batters
he faced to begin the eighth before getting the hook Both came around
to score. And while Lee put the game away a long time ago, those
insurance runs essentially quashed any hopes for the patented Yankees
comeback.

“He missed with his fastball a little bit tonight,” said Joe Girardi. “We’ll continue to talk to him. I mean, he’s been great for us all year. He walked two guys and ended up hurting us tonight, but we still believe in him.”

Hideki Matsui on facing Pedro Martinez:
“He’s always had good command and throws a wide variety of pitches,”
Matsui said. “I don’t know what to expect, but what’s going to be
important is to make sure we have a plan at the plate and make sure we
execute that.”

Live from Section 405 – The Game

stadium_450_102809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Slight exaggeration, but this measures the height of my view of the field. For the first time since I can recall, I’m closer to the blimp flying overhead.

The rain has let up, but there’s that dreaded wind chill. I’m dressed in layers but wishing I was wearing a hat. Until tomorrow ….

Anyway, less than 10 minutes from baseball. Click here for documentation of my pregame activities. And Yogi Berra, escorted by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, met retired Army Captain Tony Odinero at the mound for his throwing of the ceremonial first pitch. A nice touch.

Enjoy the game.

8:14 p.m. After two quick outs the heart of the Phillies’ order loaded the bases – Ryan Howard’s double was sandwiched between two walks – but Sabathia escaped by getting Raul Ibanez to ground out to second. The big guy threw 24 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

Early fan behavior: Chants of “CC! CC!” and “Philly sucks!”

8:28 p.m. CC settles down in the second, needing only 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

lee_250_102809.jpg8:54 p.m. Sorry for the lack of updates. To better protect my
laptop, the mist circling above the outfield chased me from my post.
Thus far it’s been the pitchers’ duel we’ve all expected, except the
Phillies made Sabathia (58 pitches after three) work before Chase Utley
homered with two out in the first to put Philadelphia on the board.
That said, the ball hasn’t carried here like it did during the regular
season. Teams combined for 237 homers in 2009, but only seven to date
in the playoffs. Furthermore, Utley’s homer was the first by a Yankees’
opponent in this building.

9:11 p.m. We’ve seen this often during the regular season. Sabathia has a bad inning or throws a bad pitch. Then he works with more anger, more of a scowl. After Utley’s homer he retired the last four, including a clean fourth with two strikeouts.

9:21 p.m. Lee is dealing, striking out the Yankees’ 3-4-5 hitters on nasty breaking pitches. Ruben Amaro Jr. made the trade of the season in my view. For all the hoopla over Roy Halladay, Amaro told J.P. Riccardi to shove it and made the better deal with the Indians. Halladay remains in Toronto, Riccardi is out of a job and Lee could be the final piece to a repeat World Series win for the Phillies.

By the way, it must stink to be a Cleveland sports fan. The Indians trade Sabathia, Lee and Victor Martinez, and the Cavaliers may lose LeBron James after this season. Then there’s Eric Mangini’s Browns. Whoa boy.

9:48 p.m. Utley goes yard – again. He’s been the Phillies’ entire offense, supplying both of their two runs. Seeing how Lee has been turning out the Yankees’ lights, rare has a 2-0 lead been insurmountable. Lee has thrown just 69 pitches through five innings. Unless the Yankees can make him work and get to the Phils’ bullpen, Lee could all the way and lead Philly to a 1-0 series lead.

Then again, the Yankees have rallied from worse.

9:58 p.m. Kudos to Yankees radio announcer Suzyn Waldman. The Yankees’ media relations department paid homage to her being the first woman to call a World Series game.

Tonight’s attendance: 50,207 – a new Yankee Stadium high.

clifflee_250_102809.jpg10:09 p.m. Here’s the Yankees offense in a nutshell: It has four hits, two from Derek Jeter. Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, and the former two stranded Jeter on first base to end the sixth. Lee’s been that good and at 86 pitches is showing no signs of letting up. If Sabathia and Co. keep it at 2-0, the only chance the Yankees have is against Brad Lidge in the ninth.

Lidge, incidentally, has pitched four scoreless innings with three saves this postseason.

10:18 p.m. A good stat passed on by Howie Karpin, one of the Yankees’ official scorers: The Yankees have gone 15 straight World Series innings without scoring a run (Game 5 of the 2003 WS) and 19 at home (Alfonso Soriano’s two-run homer in Game 2).

10:35 p.m. What has happened to Phil Hughes? Joe Girardi put him in to start the eighth in hopes of getting his confidence rebuilt. Instead, Hughes walked the first two batters and got the hook for Damaso Marte (I never thought I’d write that). Hughes has a 5.79 ERA (three runs in 4 2/3 IP) in six appearances. For someone who thrives on confidence, Hughes’ body language did not look good.

10:50 p.m. Phils get a big third run with Ibanez’s two-out single to right off David Robertson, after Damaso Marte recorded two outs in relief of Hughes. Down three against Lee and (perhaps) a rejuvenated Lidge. Not good odds.

11:24 p.m. If only the bullpen had done its job – the Phillies scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth – the Yankees would be in business. Alas, to quote Miracle Max, “It would take a miracle.”

At least the Yankees snapped their postseason scoreless streak at 17 1/3 innings. Barring a big comeback, I’ll check back in after postgame.

World Series Game 1: Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (103-59)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF

Pitching: CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.37)

phillies.jpgPHILLIES (93-69)
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Ben Francisco LF
Pedro Feliz 2B
Carlos Ruiz C

Pitching: Cliff Lee (7-4, 3.39)

Live from Section 405

rally_350_102809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Well, not yet. It’s raining and the media auxiliary press area is soaked at the moment. I’m told that not only will there be a Game 1, but the rain is expected to let up by around 5:30.

I love it how all of us make a simple attempt at meteorology.

Showers did not prevent a bevy of Yankees fans from attending a pep rally this afternoon at Times Square, where New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Yankees legend Reggie Jackson and the YES Network’s Michael Kay addressed Yankees Nation.

Joe Girardi is speaking at 3:45, followed by Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett. Later it’ll be Charlie Manuel and your favorite, Pedro Martinez, addressing the media.

Once the rain (hopefully) let’s up, I’ll be watching Game 1 from a unique vantage point. Right field is where I camped out during postseason (and the All-Star) games across the street, though in the loge section. Yet there’s something about being amongst the fans, as my colleague and friend Jerome Preisler can attest.

Oh, if you’re reading this and have tickets for the game, shut the computer off and leave now. Gates open at 5 p.m. and on top of New York/New Jersey’s prolific rush-hour traffic, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, wil be here and Major League Baseball is implementing additional security measures in select seating locations. The additional security screening will occur every time guests enter their location before the start of the game. If guests leave their seats, they will be screened again upon returning.

Additional security measures are in effect from the time gates open until the start of the game, so please allow yourself extra time to enjoy batting practice and the pregame ceremonies scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the latest hour-by-hour forecast, which calls for a 55 percent chance of “light rain” by first pitch.

Back with more later.

4 p.m. I cannot tell a lie … the sun is out!

4:35 p.m. Joe Girardi said the expected when asked about the
roster adjustments. Eric Hinske provides another pinch-hitter and Brian
Bruney an extra arm that will be important in Philadelphia. The
exclusion of a third catcher (Francisco Cervelli) also increases the
likelihood of Jorge Posada catching A.J. Burnett if he gets the call
for Game 5.

He’s also not in any rush to name a starter for Game
4; the current great debate is whether he’ll throw his top three arms
on short rest. “The focus is Game 1 tonight, and that’s what we’ll
worry about,” he said.

You can watch the full presser here.

burnett_250_102809.jpg5:01 p.m. There was his first postseason start in the Division Series. Now A.J. Burnett is set to make his World Series debut in Game 2 tomorrow night. Burnett played for the 2003 champion Marlins but missed out while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

I”m looking forward to it, I’m excited,” Burnett said. “I’m going to prepare, yeah, maybe, as another game, but deep down I know what it’s about. I know how real it is and I don’t want to change it. I want to go out there knowing it’s my first World Series start.”

Burnett, of course, said he’s all for making a potential Game 5 start on short rest. First there’s Game 2, when his opponent will be Pedro Martinez.

“He’s come back and what he’s accomplished this year is great,” Burnett said. “As a fellow starting pitcher you can respect that. I’m looking forward to going up against him. I’ve seen him pitch and he’s going to bring a lot of excitement here tomorrow night, and I think everybody in the world knows what he can do in the postseason this year or in the past, or whenever he takes the ball.”

Burnett was also asked about facing Ryan Howard and his 45 home runs and 141 runs batted in. He kept the Phillies slugger hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout in a 7-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on May 22. In 12 career at-bats, Howard is 2-for-12 (.167) with six strikeouts lifetime against the Yankees’ right-hander. Both hits have been homers.

“You try to get ahead and strike him out, I guess,” Burnett said. “I think you’ve seen him do more this postseason than hit home runs. He’s hit the ball pretty much everywhere. I’m going to probably pitch him the same as I pitch all lefties, pretty much the same. Just try to get ahead and put them away as quick as I can, and not leave anything over the plate or in his hot spot when the game is on the line.”

Here’s the Burnett conference in its entirety.

7 p.m. What’s a Yankees game, especially a World Series game, without Freddy Sez (aka) Freddy Schuman, who since 1988 has encouraged fan interaction by walking around hitting a pot with a teaspoon while allowing fans to do the same? In the Great Hall, fans lined up to get their picture taking with Freddy.

“We’re here to celebrate the Yankees winning,” he said before two clanks of his famous pot.

The Hard Rock Cafe was already packed well before 6 p.m. The wait for a table was 2 1/2 hours and climbing.

All fans received a 2010 MLB calendar along with a protective cover to hold their World Series ticket.

Two hours before first pitch, Yankee Stadium was playing highlights of the 1950 World Series. The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games in what before tonight is the only time the teams met in the Fall Classic.

pedro_250_102809.jpgCharlie Manuel spoke in depth about Pedro. It’s amazing the amount of attention he’s receiving but given his history with the Yankees and his legacy of, from where I sit, being the greatest pitcher of this generation, that attention is justified.

“I looked at him in Dodger Stadium, I think he’s a guy who’s in good shape physically, and I think with the knowledge and knowing how to pitch, I think that definitely he’s ready, and I think that he can handle the big setting,” Manuel said. “He’s been there before, and he likes being there, and he likes everything about it.

“I saw a guy who was cocky, which is fine. Sometimes to be good you’ve got to be cocky and you’ve got to be — someone has to let you be who you are sometimes. Sometimes you don’t want to take who somebody is and their identity and stuff or what they stand for and try to change it because who they are sometimes makes them — that’s why they’re good. He had an arrogance about him, and you would think — at times I thought he was kind of arrogant, but at the same time everything about him, I felt like — I always thought he was a professional and that he loved to pitch.

And since I got to know him, not only does he love to pitch and the competitive part I already knew about, but the guy, he really studies the game and he loves baseball and he’s a baseball guy. If you sit and listen to him talk and everything, he’ll impress you with what he knows and how he kind of sees things. That’s the part about it I’ve gotten to know him, and I’m very proud that he was able to sign and come on our team and pitch for us because that way I got to know who he is.”

7:21 p.m. Pedro Martinez says he’s “older and wiser,” but he remains very entertaining. Check out these money quotes from his meeting with the media. Warning, he pulled no punches taking shots at the scribes.

pedro2_250_102809.jpg“Because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that. I mean, I have been a big fan of baseball for a long time, since I was a kid. My first ball I ever got from a Big League player I actually got to purchase in Dodger Stadium in a silent auction, was Reggie Jackson. I was actually a big fan of the Yankees, too.

For some reason with all the hype and different players that have passed by, maybe because I played for the Red Sox, is probably why you guys made it such a big deal every time I came in, but you know, I have a good bond with the people. After playing in New York, I went to realize something: New York fans are very passionate and very aggressive. But after it all, after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they’re real human beings. It’s all just being fans.

I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you’re wearing. All those things you can hear when you’re a fan. But at the end of the day, they’re just great fans that want to see the team win. I don’t have any problem with that.”

On his rumored meeting with George Steinbrenner :

“I remember quotes in the paper, ‘Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.’ Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things. There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That’s a sign of the devil. I’m a Christian man.

“I don’t like those things. I take those things very serious.”

On hearing “Who’s your daddy?”
“It really reminds me that God is my daddy. It gives me strength. It keeps me strong and healthy, and I believe I can do anything. And when you have — I said it before, when you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a
purpose out there.

“Maybe when I said that quote out of frustration, I had the purpose of maybe hearing it now, hearing it the following few years that I played, because every time I hear it, it reminds me not to make the same mistake. And at the same time it reminds me that God is my real daddy, and he’s the one that keeps me strong to compete, just like he does to Mariano [Rivera]. I’ve seen Mariano when I know his shoulder is barking, and he still succeeds. Men of faith. It’s only God who can probably do that for him.”

On his tangle with Don Zimmer during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS:

“We are both, I consider, mature people, Zim more than I am, wiser than I am, and he acknowledged that it wasn’t my fault; that it was his fault.

“I never wanted to apologize to you guys because why should I apologize to you guys or come to a press conference and say, I apologize for something I didn’t intend to do? It’s a normal human reaction to defend yourself when you feel threatened, and that’s what happened to me at that point. I had to defend myself, and I know how. Don’t let this small body fool you; I know how. I just don’t put it into play.

“I mean, that Zim situation is over with. I didn’t feel like I had to apologize at that time, give an apology because I didn’t feel like I did anything to apologize. But it’s something I’m not happy about. It’s something I don’t condone, and it’s something that I don’t want to see in baseball.”

A sweet deal

By Jon Lane
Here’s something pretty cool passed to my attention: The Cupcake Stop, New York’s first Mobile Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe, whipped up this collection of tasty treats featuring the Yankees’ starting lineup.

cupcakes_275.jpgTo quote a wise man: “So much time, so little to do – strike that, reverse it.” I’ll be back with a lot more once I’m settled in for Game 1 of the World Series. Of course, it’s been raining, but there’s optimism that it will taper off by game time.

Also, if you’re in the NYC area on Sunday, the Yankees announced they will again open the Yankee Stadium Field Level and Great Hall to the public to watch the broadcast of the World Series Game 4 from Philadelphia. Turnstiles between Gates 4 and 6 will open at 7:00 p.m. for the 8:20 p.m. game, and fans can watch the game in the Great Hall or in the opened sections of the Field Level.

“When we opened the Stadium for Game 3 in the ALCS, the response was positive and the energy from our fans was truly infectious. They really enjoyed coming together to watch the game,” said Hal Steinbrenner. “Once we reached the World Series, we felt that it was the perfect time to open the Stadium again. We remain grateful for the support of the best fans in baseball.”

Food and concession stands will also be open and available to fans, as will NYY Steak and the Hard Rock Cafe.