By Jon Lane
A wrap on the first installment of Subway Series 2009.
First off, above is a great shot from the AP of a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knghts parachute team drifting above Yankee Stadium after jumping from an aircraft before the start of Sunday’s game as part of Military Appreciation Day.
Mets-Yankees to me overdone and it would be better if it took place once a year, three games and alternate the venues each year. But not only does six games make more money, the Subway Series continues to keep the Apple’s heart pumping. I was at Friday’s game and despite a report to the contrary, Yankee Stadium had a pulse which grew as the game progressed and reached a fever pitch with Luis Castillo’s dropped fly ball.
Once Gary Sheffield became a Met, Dwight Gooden, his uncle and one of 104 players to suit up for both the Yankees and Mets, told him that experiencing the Subway Series from both sides will be a lifetime memory. The Tampa, Fla., native makes his baseball season home in New Jersey, where for years he’s been hollered at from all directions.
“When I was with the Yankees I used to get a lot of Mets fans yelling at me,” Sheffield said. “Now I have Yankees fans yelling at me. It’s fun because you don’t know who the real Yankees or Mets fan is until they get it out of their mouths.
“Just the New York fans all together, one rooting against the other. That’s always fun, but it’s still New York at the same time.”
I documented some give-and-take between fans in the bleacher section in my diary from Friday.
The Yankees hold a 39-30 record against the Mets since interleague play was established in 1997. This weekend by far was the most eventful of a saga that’s made names of Dave Mlicki, Matt Franco, Mel Rojas, Dae-Sung Koo and Fernando Nieve. The past three days boosted the profiles of Brian Bruney and Francisco Rodriguez, sullied Castillo’s reputation, and have Mets fans on alert and panicking over Johan Santana.
The Yankees smashed Santana for nine runs (the most allowed over his stellar career) in three innings (matching his shortest start), which left many worried over Santana’s decreased velocity and wondering if he’s hurt. Santana shot down any notions about his health after the game, but this is something to monitor. Remember the Yankees took flack over refusing to part with Phil Hughes for Santana. In the interest of building a program, which I’ve explained many times in this space, over the long haul one could make an argument that Brian Cashman was right.
Some more lopsided numbers: Sunday was the Mets’ worst loss since a 16-1 thrashing in San Diego on August 22, 2000. The 15 runs were a season-high for the Yankees and their largest shutout win since blanking the Blue Jays, 15-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader on September 25, 1977
The Yankees’ off day today comes at exactly the right time – following 16 games in 17 days with no day off since May 28 (a travel day between Texas and Cleveland) and a rainout on June 5. When they resume play tomorrow night they’ll oppose the atrocious Nationals who can’t pitch, but can put runs on the board. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees ring up a couple of 10-spots and do expect a demotion for Chien-Ming Wang if he can’t get it done on Wednesday. That and CC Sabathia starting tomorrow adds some intrigue to series that in comparison to the Mets is like going from Happy Hour to a boardroom.
Off-the-field notes: A.J. Burnett’s conference call regarding the appeal of his six-game suspension for throwing high-and-tight to Texas slugger Nelson Cruz on June 2 was postponed until June 30 … Damaso Marte (left shoulder tendinitis) has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.
From Yankees PR:
? Damaso Marte was seen by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Andrews concurred with the previous evaluations of Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. David Altchek. Marte will return to Tampa, Fla., to continue his throwing program. Good news there.
? Alex Rodriguez will greet fans in Monument Park from 4:10-4:30 p.m. prior to Tuesday night’s game against Washington. Beforehand at 1 p.m., Robinson Cano will serve as “Principal for a Day” for PS 55 (450 St. Paul’s Place, Bronx, NY).
? The first 18,000 fans in attendance at Tuesday’s game will receive a “Strikeouts for Scholarships” keychain, courtesy of WCBS 880-AM, in support of Yankees media member Ed Lucas’ charitable endeavors with Seton Hall University. Through the “Strikeouts for Scholarships” program, established in 2008, WCBS donates $10 to Seton Hall’s Ed Lucas Scholarship Fund every time a Yankees pitcher strikes out an opposing batter. Ed is a great guy who does occasional interviews for YESNetwork.com. Visit him at EdLucas.org to learn about his inspirational story.
By Jon Lane
Lots of housekeeping before first pitch in a little more than an hour. I spent most of my time in the Mets’ clubhouse where the discussion was about the intensity of the Subway Series, the team’s unbelievable injury situation and a mini-controversy about a column written by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal in which he suggested that Manuel, in baseball parlance, “throws guys under the bus.”
More on that shortly, but on the Yankees’ side a Twitter post by Red Sox owner John Henry ruffled the normally placid Mark Teixeira. Shortly after Texieira lined out to first last night to complete the Yankees’ eighth straight loss to the Red Sox, Henry wrote “The MT curse,” a reference to Teixeira spurning the Red Sox offer and going to the Yankees as a free agent. It wasn’t the first time the organization had their chance at landing the slugger, but was denied. As their ninth-round pick out of high school in 1998, the Red Sox couldn’t sign him then either.
“I play the game the right way. If anyone has a problem with the way I play then they can take their shots at me,” Teixeira said.
“How old is Mr. Henry? There’s no reason to get into with a 70-something year-old man about baseball. If I’ve offended anyone from the time I was 18 years old to now, I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I think it’s a little silly. It’s actually very silly. There’s nothing else to say.”
Teixeira put the topic to bed by putting aside the 0-8 stigma and focusing on the Mets. And there’s action in that locker room as well. If you thought the Yankees’ injury situation last year was bad, what Mets are enduring is worse. Already without Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, J.J. Putz, Oliver Perez, Angel Pagan and Ramon Martinez, John Maine was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday night with weakness in his surgically-repaired right shoulder.
Fernando Nieve, a waiver claim from the Astros late in Spring Training, was told after the Mets’ loss to the Phillies on Thursday that he will take Maine’s place tomorrow here at the Stadium and will be evaluated start-by-start. Nieve debuted with two scoreless relief innings last Saturday at Washington after he was promoted from Class AAA Buffalo when Putz was put on the DL.
“I’m going to try and treat it like a regular game,” Nieve said. “I’ m excited about it, but I’m thinking like it’ll be a normal game. I’m a baseball player and I have to be focused on what I’ve been doing. If you start thinking about that stuff I don’t think you’re going to do out there.”
As for Manuel, Gary Sheffield and David Wright were quick to come to his defense. Before the topic was broached, Sheffield credited Manual as being the ideal leader to help an injury-plagued team weather the storm until its stars are finally back and healthy.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Sheffield said. “But at the same time you have to have a strong-willed team to go through something like this. And it starts with our manager holding us together the way he has. To be able to do that speaks volumes about him and this team. We just have to continue to keep our focus. “
Wright added he’s heard no complaints from players believing Manuel has thrown anyone under the bus and that all the players enjoy competing under him. Ironically, it was just under a year (June 17, 2008) when Manuel replaced Willie Randolph partly due to allegations that Randolph had lost the clubhouse.
“I love playing for Jerry — that’s false,” Wright said. “I think Jerry brings a nice dynamic to this team. He keeps us loose and jokes around. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, he’ll get on you if you need to be get on. I have zero problems with Jerry. He’s done a phenomenal job with the injuries and always getting the most out of his players.”
I don’t see this going any further. Rosenthal wrote a thesis citing facts before forming his opinion. It wasn’t an attack and he didn’t cite anyone speaking in confidence. Manuel wasn’t even asked about it during his pre-game press conference.
Back with a lot more as the night progresses. The sun’s been out for almost an hour and the skies are clear. About time, too.