Tagged: Derek Jeter

Now for an opponent

By Jon Lane
What to watch for this week:

? Yankees games meaningless only to the standings. The AL East may be wrapped up, but Joe Girardi will be resting regular players (read: Alex Rodriguez) while evaluating who may grab the last couple of ALDS roster spots (read: Brian Bruney, Freddy Guzman). Peter Abraham had a funny line looking ahead to who may comprise tonight’s batting order: The Hangover Special.

? Whether Mark Teixeira can become AL home run champion. Teixeira’s 38 home runs are one behind leader Carlos Pena, out for the season with a broken hand.

? One last chance for Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Joe Mauer to convince voters they deserve to be AL MVP.

? CC Sabathia’s first and only shot at his first 20-win season (he’s a two-time 19-game winner) Friday night against the Rays in St. Petersburg. Sabathia is a top contender for the Cy Young, though Royals ace Zack Greinke may have sealed it after holding the Twins to a run over seven innings on Sunday. In five September starts (Twins, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians and Angels), Greinke has allowed three runs (two earned) in 33 innings.

(Before I get to the Twins, allow me to digress. From this person’s point of view, Mariano Rivera belongs in the Cy Young conversation and deserves a place in the top three. His 44 saves are his most since 2004 [53]. He has two blown saves and allowed only two runs since June. There’s Jeter, Teixeira and Sabathia, but where are the Yankees without Rivera? Would there have ever been that last dynasty if not for Rivera?)

? Twins vs. Tigers in a four-game set that will likely decide the AL Central champion and the Yankees’ ALDS opponent. Three weeks ago, the Tigers had a seven-game lead. That’s down to two with Detroit on an 8-11 skid and Minnesota on its typical late-season surge (11-2). The Twins are also winners of nine out of 14 against the Tigers this season.

Let’s rewind to 2006: The Tigers led the Central by 10 1/2 games on August 7. The Twins won the title on the final day of the season while the Tigers settled for the Wild Card. Minnesota was swept by Oakland in the ALDS. Detroit dropped Game 1 of the DS to the Yankees before winning their next seven to capture the AL pennant. Go figure.

Nick Blackburn opposes Rick Porcello tonight at Comerica Park. It’s Brian Duensing against Justin Verlander Tuesday, Carl Pavano (yes, him) against Eddie Bonine Wednesday, and Scott Baker and Nate Robertson conclude the set on Thursday. Something tells me it’ll be Twins vs. Yankees next week. What do you think?

The Pulse of New York

Where Jeter ranks in history

By Jon Lane
Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig on the Yankees’ all-time hits list may not make him the greatest to wear the pinstripes, but while on the express train to the Hall of Fame, Jeter is compiling a case to be considered among the finest shortstops to ever play baseball – if not the best. Watching how Jeter handled the accolades, and how his approach to the business of winning never changes, confirmed that he’s the classiest player in uniform today.

Here’s how Jeter stacks up with the great shortstops of yesteryear:

25–Bobby Wallace
23–Rabbit Maranville
21–Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, Jr.
20–Luke Appling, Joe Cronin, George Davis, Robin Yount.
19–Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith
18–Luis Aparicio
17–John Montgomery Ward, Hughie Jennings
16–Dave Bancroft, Pee Wee Reese
15–DEREK JETER, Joe Tinker, Lou Boudreau, Travis Jackson.
14–Joe Sewell, Arky Vaughn
13–Phil Rizzuto

Ripken, 3001
Yount, 2856
Wagner, 2792
Maranville, 2670
Aparicio, 2601
Smith, 2573
Banks, 2528
Appling, 2422
Wallace, 2383
Davis, 2368
Reese, 2166
Cronin, 2124
JETER, 2120
Bancroft, 1913

Aparicio, 2583
Smith, 2511
Ripken, 2302
Appling, 2212
Maranville, 2153
JETER, 2106
Reese, 2014
Wagner, 1887
Bancroft, 1873
Cronin, 1843

Wagner, 3415
Ripken, 3184
Yount, 3142
Appling, 2749
JETER, 2723
Aparicio, 2677
Davis, 2660
Maranville, 2605
Banks, 2583

Banks, 512
Ripken, 431
Yount, 251
JETER, 223
Cronin, 170
Jackson, 135
Reese, 126
Wagner, 101

Wagner, 1732
Ripken, 1695
Banks, 1636
Davis, 1437
Cronin, 1424
Yount, 1406
Wallace, 1121
Appling, 1116
JETER, 1065
Sewell, 105
Jackson, 929

Wagner, .329
Vaughn, .318
JETER, .317
Sewell, .312
Jennings, .311
Appling, .310
Cronin, .301

? Banks played more games at 1B than SS.
? Ripken played almost 700 games at 3B and DH.
? Yount played half his games in the outfield.

2night was the night

jeter_run_400_091109.jpgBy Jon Lane
For starters it’d be nice if Mother Nature would
cut us a break. The tarp is on the field and a strong breeze is making
a light drizzle do a dance. It’s so bad that many of the writers who
normally inhabit the first row of the press box moved up to the second
row to avoid being splashed.

We’re not starting on time. First pitch TBD.

While we wait, here’s a couple more Derek Jeter nuggets:

Jeter is looking to join three active players who hold their current
franchise’s all-time hits record: Todd Helton (Rockies: 2,113), Carl
Crawford (Rays: 1,274) and Ivan Rodriguez (Rangers: 1,738).

Jeter is 14 hits from 200 on the season, one shy of Gehrig’s club
record, and four from his 10th season with at least 190, which would
tie him with Stan Musial for third-most all time behind Pete Rose (13)
and Ty Cobb (12).

Furthermore, Ed Lucas, a longtime sports
reporter and a good man who conducts exclusive interviews for
YESNetwork.com’s “Ed Lucas Show,” is here. Ed was recently hospitalized
for diverticulitis, digestive disease found in the colon, and is due
back for test results and to lower his blood sugar. When you get a
chance, check out his Strikeouts for Scholarships
program, which provides hundreds of Seton Hall students who have a
disability with financial assistance while earning their college

Back soon with much more.

7:10 p.m. To
kill time I took a walk up and down the Great Hall. As you’d expect,
that and Tommy Bahama’s was mobbed, but it was nothing compared to the
Hard Rock. There was a line just to get into the place. One guy walked
out in frustration and shouted, “Six-hour wait.” At least I spared a
woman from waiting on line or leaving the building to enter the HRC
from the front; she would have not be let back in. She had a good
response to my wait-time message: “The place won’t be open that long.”

7:12 p.m. Ominous sign: The women’s U.S. Open semifinals was postponed. At least they can try again tomorrow. Here, it’s not that easy.

7:29 p.m. PA man Paul Olden made an announcement to hushed silence: There will be a weather update in 15 minutes. Okey Dokey.

7:48 p.m. The grounds crew is removing the tarp. Fans are already chanting, “DE-REK JE-TER!” Approximate first pitch is 8:20.

8:21 p.m.The ceremony honoring the sailors of the USS New York,
tonight’s true heroes,  concluded with Navy Musician Third Class Laura
Carey’s rendition of our national anthem. Earlier today, Chris Shearn and Jerome Preisler eloquently shared their 9/11 thoughts

8:32 p.m.
Off and running, following a delay of one hour and 27 minutes, after
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano threw out the first
pitch. The Yankees are wearing red caps with the interlocking NY in
stars and stripes, and playing in a postseason atmosphere. It’s raining
again, but conditions remain playable.

8:38 p.m. Three up
and three down for Andy Pettitte as Jeter catches Nick Markakis’ pop up
for the final out, drawing the loudest ovation for a first-inning third
out I’ve ever heard. The rain, however, has intensified.

8:44 p.m. Jeter whiffs on his first attempt. Fans are scurrying for shelter.

8:50 p.m. On a night Jeter is trying to pass Gehrig, A-Rod hit a
Ruthian shot to left-field, a three-run bomb that gave the Yankees an
early 3-0 lead.

jeter_375.jpg9:23 p.m. 2night was the night. An opposite-field single on Tillman’s 2-0 pitch puts Jeter alone in first place. Now Mother Nature has to play nice for and inning and a half. Every Yankee emerged from the home dugout to congratulate Jeter at first base backed by an ovation at ear-splitting levels. As I write this, the count is 1-1 on Nick Swisher and fans are still chanting, “DE-REK JE-TER!”

9:34 p.m. Statement from George Steinbrenner:

jeter_250_091109.jpg“For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter. Game in and game out he just produces. As historic and significant as becoming the Yankees’ all time hit leader is, the accomplishment is all the more impressive because Derek is one of the finest young men playing the game today.

“That combination of character and athletic ability is something he shares with the previous record holder Lou Gehrig. It adds to the pride that the Yankees and our fans feel today. Every Yankees’ era has its giants. It’s thrilling to watch Derek as he becomes one of the greats of his generation, if not of all time.”

9:37 p.m. Another statement, this from Dorine Gordon, president and CEO of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter:

“The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter congratulates Derek Jeter for surpassing Lou Gehrig’s 70-year-old record. Derek epitomizes so much of what we admired in Gehrig. Each skillfully filled their roles as team captains with strength, determination and humility. In this, our 15th anniversary year, we’re prouder than ever to carry on the fight against a disease that bears Gehrig’s name and commend Derek on this accomplishment.”

10:03 p.m. Jeter will appreciate hit No. 2,723 a lot more. His single to right plated the Yankees’ fourth run before Brett Gardner overran third base and was tagged out. However, Gardner hustled down the first-line for a two-out infield single that extended the inning.

10:27 p.m. The game – and Jeter’s record – are both official after a laborious top of the fifth. Pettitte needed 36 pitches and a nifty play by Robinson Cano to escape a bases-loaded jam. It was likely the final inning for the left-hander (103 pitches/59 strikes).

11:24 p.m. Tonight’s historic moment had a different feel, writes Bob Lorenz.

11:36 p.m. Edwar Ramirez + pouring rain + rain delay = buzzkill.

Yankees to commemorate 9/11 anniversary

ussnewyork_275_091009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Derek Jeter’s pursuit of Lou Gehrig is great, but far more important is that Friday is the eighth anniversary of 9/11. The Yankees announced that they will hold a special ceremony before the game to honor the USS New York and the ship’s crew.

Here’s the 411:

The New York Yankees today announced they will hold a special pregame ceremony on Friday, September 11, prior to the Yankees’ 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Orioles.

During the home plate ceremony, the Yankees will give special recognition to the USS New York and the ship’s crew as well as the commissioning committee during a home plate ceremony. The state-of-the-art stealth ship, whose bow stem includes seven-and-a-half tons of steel recovered from the fallen World Trade Center, is scheduled to be commissioned into the U.S. Navy’s fleet on November 7.  

The presentation of colors will be made by the USS New York Naval Color Guard, the FDNY Color Guard, the NYPD Color Guard and the Port Authority Color Guard. Naval musician Laura Carey will sing the national anthem.

Representing Washington, D.C. – an area also affected by the 9/11 tragedy – will be Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who will throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

Scheduled to arrive into the New York Harbor on November 2, the USS New York will proceed up the Hudson River, where she will pause and dip her ensign (the American Flag) as she passes the World Trade Center site, then proceed up to the George Washington Bridge, turn and dock at her Manhattan pier. On November 7, she will enter naval service. 

In other news

yankees_275_091009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Derek Jeter is and will continue to be the big story until his inevitable passing of Lou Gehrig on the Yankees’ all-time hits list. Not only can you watch him take his first crack Friday night on YES at 7 p.m., there are other storylines to follow while the team continues this mythical surge towards the postseason. The Yankees are an astounding 40-13 since the All-Star break. By way of comparison, the 1998 team was, on this date, 42-22 in the second half and 103-41 overall.

At 91-50, Version 2009 owns a nine-game lead over the Red Sox with a magic number to clinch the AL East down to 14 following a four-game sweep of the Rays. There was Jeter, of course. There was Jorge Posada’s pinch-hit, three-run home run that gave the Yankees their 45th come-from-behind victory. And, including Joba Chamberlain after a rough first inning, Yankees pitchers held the Rays hitless for 8 2/3 innings.

The biggest difference in Chamberlain from the second inning on during another abbreviated outing (55 pitches in three innings) was his pace. After Jeter told Chamberlain something pretty animated during that first inning, instead of shaking off his catcher and thinking to the point of burning wood, Chamberlain worked with vigor. He needed only 14 pitches to retired the Rays in the second and nine in the third, and was throwing 95 by the end of his night. You can debate until the cows, horses and chickens over the Yankees’ handling meticulous of Chamberlain, but it’s up to Chamberlain to work with rhythm and urgency. Once he takes the mound to start a playoff game, all rules are null and void. Chamberlain can rear back, not think and just throw. By then we’ll have a great idea of how good he is and how good he can be.

Did you notice that Alfredo Aceves threw three of those hitless innings? There were concerns over Aceves during his second-half slump following issues with his shoulder and back. It looks like Ace is back on track to being Ramiro Mendoza Version ’09.

How fitting was it to see Posada get the biggest hit on the night Jeter tied Gehrig and is it for Andy Pettitte to be the starting pitcher on the night Jeter may pass The Iron Horse? Pettitte and Jeter won four World Series together and have been teammates for all of Jeter’s 15 seasons except those three the left-hander spent in Houston. Also keep in mind that the last time Pettitte saw the Orioles he took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Might Pettitte dare flirt with history again while Jeter makes some of his own? Tomorrow at the Stadium will be compelling, for more reasons than one.

Early September subplots

By Jon Lane
The Yankees aren’t clinching the AL East this week, their magic number is 16, though the way they’re playing the question has become not if, but when. Yes, I’ve written in this space that stranger things have happened, it’s not over until it’s over, blah, blah, blah. But to win 100 games minimum, they’d have to go 11-12. At 89 wins the Yankees have already matched their win total from last season and their division lead is a season-high nine games, I doubt very seriously we’ll see a Flushing-like choke job.

Storylines and subplots will be changing, but here’s what’s going on right now:

? That Red Sox-Yankees series September 25-27 at this rate will be relegated to playing for pride – unless the magic number isn’t at zero by then.

? More importantly, New York leads the L.A. Angels by six games in the race for the league’s best record, which means homefield advantage throughout the postseason.

? The Yankees pounded Rays pitching for 24 hits in their two-game sweep yesterday – but not one came from Derek Jeter. At 2,718 hits, Jeter remains three away from Lou Gehrig’s franchise record. He’s faced tonight’s starter, David Price, twice and walked once. The Rays start Jeff Niemann Wednesday night, who allowed a double to Jeter the first and only time he’s pitched to the Captain.

? Jeter did reach another milestone. He played in his 2,117th game as a Yankee to pass Yogi Berra for third all-time.

? One more race to watch: Carlos Pena is out for the season with a fractured index and middle finger. He finished with 39 home runs, which leaves Mark Teixeira (35) in pursuit. Jeter, Teixeira and Joe Mauer make for a nice MVP debate, but what about Mariano Rivera? He’s 1-2 with a 1.75 ERA and returned from groin stiffness to earn his 34th straight save in Game 1. You can make a serious case that Rivera is the Yankees’ most indispensable player. That’s serious value in my book.

? He said it: “It’s great to have Gardy back – the fastest white man in America.”

– Nick Swisher.

It was good to see the Bronx’s version of Brett the Jet back with the Yankees. Brett Gardner raced to Swisher’s territory in right field to rob Fernando Perez with a tremendous running catch. Gardner will provide Melky Cabrera a much-needed blow and that lightning-like speed that will be critical come the postseason.

Mid-week thoughts: Burnett a major variable

By Jon Lane
I suggested yesterday that Andy Pettitte deserves to start Game 2 of the ALDS ahead of A.J. Burnett. That was more to extol the virtues and merits of Pettitte than to condemn Burnett, who upon first glance has been a frontline starter his first season in New York.

But because there is rarely any middle ground with Burnett, because there have been times when the right-hander has been absolutely electric, it can be frustrating to see a net result of 10-8 with a 4.29 ERA. When he’s on, he takes over a game and captivates a city. When he’s off, whoa boy.

Burnett hasn’t won a game and owns a 6.54 ERA in a seven-start stretch since his last victory on July 27, and that includes the 7 2/3 scoreless innings he tossed against the Red Sox during that Friday night epic at Yankee Stadium. Last night the bad A.J. showed up in Baltimore. He allowed six runs on 11 hits (two home runs) and two walks in 5 1/3 innings and, worse, a television audience saw him lose control of his emotions (again).

You demand excellence from Burnett, for obvious reasons. You also want to see him succeed. He has the talent. He’s stayed healthy. He’s provided life and wisdom to the Yankees’ clubhouse beyond whipped-cream pies. Best of all he’s been accountable. He hasn’t blamed Jorge Posada or anyone and nobody has to tell him he must turn it around.

“I take these as a little bump in the road,” Burnett said. “I’m not going to stew on it too long and let it bring me down, because I thought I turned a good corner the last start and I’ve got to pitch in five days. I can’t let it affect me too much.”

Burnett’s next postseason appearance will be his first and a Game 3 start is not a demotion. It’s either a chance to sweep, a swing game or the nightmare scenario of avoiding an embarrassing sweep. The Yankees are paying Burnett $82.5 million over five years. At times he’s been money. Other times he’s been worth 82 cents. Next month, there is no choice but to be priceless.


? Nick Swisher is hitting .200 at home with 20 RBIs, but .283 on the road with 52 RBIs. Strange, but his overall numbers are 23-72. The Yankees acquired Swisher in an offseason trade with the White Sox for Wilson Betemit. Swishalicious.

? He can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but Robinson Cano batted .347 with 19 runs scored and 16 RBIs in August. He’s already set a career high with 22 homers and his.320 overall average is his finest since 2006 (.342). I’ve killed him in this space over his inability to hit with runners in scoring position, but since August 27 he’s bumped his average in that area from .204 to .221.

? Mariano Rivera has saved 34 consecutive games, a personal best, and has 38 on the season. In his last 29 innings, he’s allowed one run while striking out 29. He might pitch forever.

? Jeter Meter: Nine hits from Lou Gehrig’s franchise record (2,721).

? Ian Kennedy threw batting practice for the first time since surgery in May to remove an aneurysm from below his right biceps, another step towards pitching in September’s instructional league and the Arizona Fall League. He’s 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 13 Major League games, but Kennedy’s story is far from finished. The humbling experience is maturing him and I see him earning a spot in the Yankees’ rotation within two years.

Give Pettitte the ball in Game 2

pettitte_350_090109.jpgBy Jon Lane
Watching Andy Pettitte deal Monday night, I certainly was hoping for a perfect game. Seeing Jerry Hairston boot that routine grounder, I groaned, but held out hope for a no-hitter. Then witnessing Nick Markakis’ clean single, I groaned again. I’m a sucker for history who admittedly popped for Mark Buehrle when he threw his perfecto, and even saluted Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Derek Lowe for their no-nos while wearing Boston white and red.

You need a little – or in Buehrle’s case – lots of luck to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter. When less talented teams succeed, I sometimes believe that it’s better to be lucky than good. In Pettitte’s case Monday night, and as it relates to the Yankees since June, this hasn’t been luck. The Yankees have imposed their will on the rest of the league. Strange things have happened through the years that have proven Yogi Berra a soothsayer, but at 35 games above .500, only the mother of all monumental collapses will prevent the Yankees from playing in October.

Thus, looking ahead in the slightest will not tempt the fates. It’s a given that CC Sabathia, despite his shady postseason history, will start Game 1. The popular belief is A.J. Burnett will go in Game 2.

But why not Pettitte? You know his postseason history. His 14 wins are second all-time behind John Smoltz’s 15. And you’re aware of his track record in taking the ball in Game 2 of a postseason series, where he’s 6-3 in his Yankees career. Conversely, Burnett, who has stepped up (and also imploded) in big spots, hasn’t pitched in a playoff game. You want someone who has done it before, especially in a short series where pitching matters first and foremost.

Here’s what Pettitte has done to date coming off a down season when he pitched with a bum shoulder.

? Monday night, he worked only four two-ball counts before Hairston’s error, this after he retired the first 20 Orioles hitters. Pettitte struck out eight without a walk over eight innings. Baltimore’s other hit off the left-hander was Melvin Mora’s solo homer.

? Since the break, Pettitte is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in nine starts, allowing 45 hits and whiffing 62 over 59 2/3 innings. His 12 wins and 4.03 ERA rank second on the Yankees behind Sabathia. He has 190 wins as a Yankee, trailing only Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231).

? He’s healthy and pain free, to the point where he’s hinted aloud to wanting to pitch a few more seasons.

“It feels good to be healthy,” Pettitte said. “It feels good that my elbow after surgery doesn’t hurt anymore when I pitch.  “At this time last year my shoulder was absolutely killing me. It just feels good to feel healthy. I just hope I can hold it and keep it for another two months.”

Memo to Joe Girardi: Give him the ball in Game 2.


If the season ended today, the Yankees would play the Tigers in the ALDS with Games 1 and 2 (and a fifth if necessary) at Yankee Stadium. It’d be a rematch of the 2006 DS when the Tigers, riding a six-game losing streak (the first five that cost them the AL Central flag), stunned Mike Mussina and the Yankees in Game 2 and didn’t lose again until Game 1 of World Series. Justin Verlander defeated Mussina that afternoon and is the Tigers’ unquestioned ace. But how will Edwin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga react in a big spot? And remember how badly the Yankees wanted Jarrod Washburn and lost out to the Tigers on deadline day? Washburn is 1-2 with a 6.81 ERA in six starts for Detroit. He threw eight shutout innings August 14 against Kansas City, but other than that he’s been brutal. The left-hander was blasted for eight runs in 5 2/3 innings yesterday by the Rays.

The Tigers lead the Twins by only 3 games with seven games left against them (four in Detroit September 28-October 1). Their big-ticket acquisition may end up costing them the playoffs.

Hairston’s error was no doubt part of Monday’s story, but John Harper was a bit rough, don’t you think? The Yankees won the game.

Derek Jeter watch: The Captain is 10 from tying Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hits leader.

Want to the go to the playoffs? River Ave Blues has information on ticket pricing and policies.

Eleven years ago

By Jon Lane
Chris Shearn’s entertaining rant got me thinking.
While this year’s Yankees won’t match the legendary team from 1998,
like 11 years ago, they’ve been playing out of their minds. Here’s a snapshot comparison of where the 2009 Yankees currently stand to the 125-win team of ’98:

Record on August 31
2009: 82-48
1998: 98-37

Games ahead in first place
2009: 6
1998: 18.5

Team leaders (hitting)
2009: Average – Derek Jeter (.335); HRs – Mark Teixeira (32); RBIs – Teixeira (101)
1998: Average – Bernie Williams (.339); HRs – Tino Martinez (28); RBIs – Martinez (123)

Team leaders (pitching)

2009: Wins – CC Sabathia (15); ERA – Sabathia (3.56); Strikeouts – Sabathia (158)

1998: Wins – David Cone (20); ERA – Orlando Hernandez (3.13); Strikeouts – Cone (209)

Key acquisitions
2009: Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Teixeira, Nick Swisher (acquired for Wilson Betemit)
1998: Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Hernandez, Tim Raines

Lights-out closer
2009: Mariano Rivera
1998: Mariano Rivera

2009: Joe Girardi
1998: Joe Torre

Tests of character

2009: Twelve walk-off wins, to date their highest total since 1978 (13); 41 comeback victories

1998: Seven walk-off wins; 50 comeback victories; Rallied from 2-1 ALCS deficit to defeat the Indians in Game 4. The Yankees did not lose another postseason game.