By: Joe Auriemma
The sun is shining in wonderful Stamford, CT, the home of the YES Network’s studio. I was really starting to think that New York had inherited Seattle’s weather pattern. What a brutal month this has been for both weather in New York and for the baseball teams that reside here. How appropriate that they are both ending June by playing each other in the last weekend series.
The Yankees will finally check out the Mets new digs. I’m going for the first time on Saturday to get some interviews with some players and hopefully chat with both managers. I know that Jerry Manuel has to be pleased, that even though his team is not playing its’ best baseball, they are still only one game back of the Phillies in the division. The Mets have suffered some major injuries this season that would cripple any contender into the cellar, however, they have endured and continue to compete. Even though they have won their last three out of four, they are only 9-13 in the month of June and this series with the Yankees might give them an opportunity to leave this month unscathed after getting swept by the Pirates to start June. The other teams in the NL East continue to struggle giving the Mets the golden opportunity to stay in the race, while some of their main cogs try and get healthy.
The Yankees are five games back of the Red Sox, who seem to have had a stranglehold on the Yankees and the AL East since the meltdown of 2004. Now I know the Rays won the division last season, but it just feels like the Red Sox get all of the breaks the Yankees used to get before the 2004 ALCS. The Yankees need to figure out a way to beat those guys in the second half of the season or else it’s going to be another long offseason for the team’s fans and especially the team itself.
This weekend series is more than just a regular Subway Series for the Yankees; they need this series to make a push and finish out their first half on a high note. Let’s hope for sunnier days after the All-Star break.
Other Sports Related Notes
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Nets and Orlando Magic have agreed to
a trade that would send Vince Carter to the Magic. The official deal is Carter and
Ryan Anderson for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee. Orlando
would add Carter to an already star-studded lineup that would include
Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson, while Hedo Turkoglu is
most likely going to opt out of his contract this summer. The Nets are
trying to be big players in the big free agent market next summer, when
all of the big names seem to be free agents at the same time. The Nets
are going to be well under the cap with this move.
Shaquille O’Neal will be 38 years old next season and has one more opportunity to win a championship by teaming up with LeBron James. The Suns and Cavs have agreed on a trade that would send Shaq-daddy to Cleveland. My question is, when is Nike going to make a Shaq puppet. This should be interesting to see how Shaq and LeBron play together.
Wasted Fantasy Baseball Pick
Literally my pick was wasted on Geovany Soto this season. I thought I was getting a stud catcher and in his second major league season, he is turning out to be a dud. I’m happy that I traded for Victor Martinez, but Soto has been a huge disappointment. Now word is that he has failed a drug test administered by the International Baseball Federation for marijuana use during the World Baseball Classic. Thanks Geovany!
Can you believe the decade is almost over?
I want to put together a poll here on YESNetwork.com about the best and worst moments of the decade in New York and National Sports. I don’t know about anyone else, but this decade flew by. Give me a shout on twitter, https://twitter.com/JoeAuriemmaNYY, or comment on here if you like the idea and I’ll start to come up with some moments.
Till next time!
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.
Before 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?
Over 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.
By Joe Auriemma
The Yankees are 27 games into the season and under .500. They already have two four-game losing streaks and are playing exactly like their record states. This team has problems and it’s the type of problems that won’t just disappear with the return of Alex Rodriguez into the middle of the order.
As was the case with last season, the Yankees already have had major injury issues. The loss of A-Rod was just the tip of the iceberg when they lost two of their big money relievers in Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte. Now Marte had not been good before he was injured, but he is an experienced pitcher. Bruney has not had a full season with the Yankees since his 58-game performance in 2007. He has been lights out every time he’s been in there and he seems to be what’s missing from what has been a subpar bullpen this season. There are many inexperienced arms out there that give up the big hit at the worst possible moment.
I never like to blame injuries, but it has ravaged the bullpen, the lineup and the bench. The Yankees lost A-Rod, then his replacement Cody Ransom went down, Xavier Nady has been out and then they lost their leading RBI man in Jorge Posada. To make matters worse, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui have been playing hurt and let’s not forget about Chien-Ming Wang, who was just putrid in three starts this season. Every team has injuries, but the Yankees’ situation is pretty bad.
Could the injury bug for the second straight season be blamed on age? Yes, I think the advanced age of these players has a lot to do with the injuries. The Red Sox and Rays have a pretty young core of players and they don’t seem to be going through this same problem over the last two seasons.
After the injuries and the bullpen issues, the Yankees have had a tough year defensively. That seems to be the difference between a lot of the upper echelon teams to how they are playing right now.
This team also is not manufacturing runs. They don’t move runners over and when they do, they don’t drive them in.
With all of this being said, the Yankees can still snap out of this with the talent that they have and win their share of ballgames. However, when you combine everything that’s going on with the team right now, it really is true, “You are what your record says you are.”
By: Joe Auriemma
There are certain people just born to announce sporting events. Some are just graced with the smooth memorable voice. Names that come to mind, Bob Sheppard, John Facenda, and Harry Kalas. Today baseball and football lost a legend, a voice that represented the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL films. Kalas passed away at the ballpark today and Phillies games will never be the same.
I had the pleasure of spending part of Mr. Kalas’ 73rd birthday with him just a couple of weeks back on March 26th. It was a Yankees-Phillies game from Clearwater, Florida and we had a good discussion about the Yankees, the Phillies chances to repeat and Bright House Field, the Phillies Spring Training Complex. I was in awe. I could not believe I was sitting in the same room as this baseball legend. His voice was exactly the same way as when he was announcing. There was no phoniness to his legendary pipes.
The one thing that I surely will remember most is how inviting he was. The man had never met me, but he walked into the booth where I was working and started having a conversation with me like we had been friends for years.
Kalas received the Ford C. Frick Award in 2002 enshrining him into the Baseball Hall of Fame wing for broadcasters. This man was a class act and one of the last legends from a lost generation of memorible baseball announcers.
Here is just a look back at the blog from the day of Kalas’ birthday:
The press box is packed here at Bright House Field, so I decided to go
to an empty radio room to do my work today. While sitting there alone
and editing my videos, in walks a man with a very familiar voice and he
asks if I would mind if he sat next to me. It’s Harry Kalas, the Hall
of Fame Phillies Broadcaster. All I keep thinking in my mind is him
saying, “The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt!,”
in his patented voice. I’m sure most of you have heard the familiar
voice if you don’t know the name. The funny thing is that his voice is
the same as if he was announcing the game. What a thrill!
By: Joe Auriemma
First and foremost, Happy Easter to everyone out there that celebrates it. I’m a Catholic, so I do celebrate Easter with my family. However, I don’t get how this holiday became celebrating a bunny, coloring and hunting eggs and eating chocolate. I guess there are certain things in this world that I’ll never get. In any event, Happy Holidays to everyone who celebrate Easter and Passover.
Now onto the good stuff. Doesn’t everyone out there just love sports Sundays? There are certain sports holidays for me throughout the year and today happens to be one of them. Isn’t it fitting that we are celebrating this holiday and later on in the day we’ll be holding our breath when the field of golfers comes to Amen Corner. The Masters is truly a wonderful event and what makes it even better these days is watching it in HD. Man, I feel like I’m actually there.
I know that Tiger and Phil Mickleson, as of the time I’m writing this blog entry, are seven behind the leaders. Angel Cabrera and the feel good story 48-year old Kenny Perry are on top of the leader board at -11. I also know that Tiger has never come back from this large a deficit on a Sunday to win a tournament. Wouldn’t it be fitting that today Tiger makes more history and comes all the way back to win? The chances are very slim, but you never know when it comes to Tiger Woods.
What makes this Easter Sunday even better is that I have Yankees Baseball sprinkled into it. Coverage on YES today starts with the Batting Practice Show at 1 P.M. and first pitch is just after 2 P.M.
A couple of stories that should be interesting to watch today. The Yankees have won three in a row in convincing fashion, Nick Swisher is seeing a beach ball size baseball at the plate right now, Joba Chamberlain is making his season debut and Mark Teixeira didn’t play yesterday with a sore left wrist. He is listed as day-to-day, so we’ll know by game time if he’s ready to go. I’m sure that Joe Girardi and his staff are monitoring this closely. Hopefully it’s nothing to worry about.
Speaking of Mark Teixeira, happy belated 29th birthday. He celbrated this milestone yesterday.
To everyone out there, be safe on this holiday and enjoy your time with your family. Just remember to have the remote in one hand going back and forth between two great sports events today.
By Joe Auriemma
The best is yet to come, and won’t that be fine.
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine.
— Frank Sinatra
I start my blog today with one of my favorite lyrics, from one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite artists. The chairman of the board knew that the best is yet to come, so why can’t people be more like the cool, calm and collected Ol’ Blue Eyes. Everyone, especially in New York, jumps to conclusions after the smallest of sampling sizes.
On Tuesday, every paper I read already anointed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira as bust signings. How? Why? Are you kidding me? IT’S ONE GAME!
Sabathia and Teixeira are known slow starters. Their career track records tells us that this is not unexpected, but with Yankees fans it’s always time to hit the panic button.
If you don’t know the respective histories of these two players in the first month of the year, here it is:
Teixeira’s career in March and April is a .256 average with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs. For the rest of the season throughout his career he hits .295 with 184 home runs and 612 RBIs. In fact, this was evident last season when he hit .273 in March and April with four home runs and 17 RBIs, and after that he was a .317 hitter with 29 home runs and 104 RBIs.
Sabathia has a career record of 11-10 in 34 March and April starts with a 4.51 ERA. For the rest of the season over his career, he has a 106-63 record with an ERA that’s one full point less at 3.53.
Again, going back to last season, if you look at his first four starts, Sabathia was 0-3, with a 13.50 ERA. He walked and struck out 14 batters, while hitters had a robust .390 average against him. In his last 31 starts, he was 17-7 with a 1.88 ERA and had a little better walk to strikeout ratio, 45-237. Opponents only hit .222 against him over that span.
Some players are slow starters. I don’t know why this happens. There are many factors that go into being a successful professional athlete.
So please before you make any judgments about the two major offseason signings, just remember to sit back, put on some Sinatra, calm down and know that the best is yet to come.
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Brett Gardner CF
Chien-Ming Wang P
Brian Roberts 2B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Aubrey Huff 1B
Melvin Mora 3B
Luke Scott DH
Felix Pie LF
Gregg Zaun C
Cesar Izturis SS
Koji Uehara P
By: Joe Auriemma
It’s the middle of the fifth inning in the first game here at the new Yankee Stadium and I already have some first impressions of the game play at the ball park.
It’s only fitting that Derek Jeter got the first Yankees hit to start things off in the bottom of the first inning.
Robinson Cano, who hit the first home run in the new stadium in the bottom of the second, crushed that ball into the right field bleachers. The bleachers are more set back than in the other stadium, so to hit that ball halfway up in the stands is a big time shot. I told my colleague Chris Shearn that I thought, even thought the ball was a line drive, that it was hanging up in the air more than I remember from the other park.
When Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom hit their home runs, I felt the same way. The ball is carrying and hanging in the air tonight. I remember that the other stadium it would only really do that when the weather got hot out.
I spoke with YES Network commentator John Flaherty who also made that same observation.
I’m not going to put too much stock into the ball carrying right now until I get more of a sample throughout the season. However, if this trend does continue, this could become a very good hitters park.
Now in the top of the sixth, Mariano Rivera has come into the ballgame for his first ever appearance in the new park. Rivera, who came into his signature song Enter Sandman by Metallica, got a very big ovation from the crowd and with every pitch, flash bulbs continue to light up the stadium.
By Joe Auriemma
Years ago, once the baseball season
ended, the players would shut down completely in the offseason. Most of
these Major Leaguers had jobs to make extra income. I know most people
can’t even fathom the thought that Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra and Phil
Rizzuto used to work at a men’s shop in Newark, just to try and support
their family, but it’s true. This was a time in which players needed a
lot of Spring Training action to get back in shape and ready for the
marathon that is the baseball season.
Nowadays, most players
don’t have to worry about a second job and treat baseball as a year-round profession. By the time most of them report to camp in February,
they are already in shape. To be fair, a lot of these player do shut
down for at least a month after the season is over to rest, but even
the pitchers now throw in the offseason to keep up their arm strength.
This spring season was longer because of the World Baseball Classic games, and when it’s all
said and done the Yankees are going to play 37 exhibition games. That
is literally almost a quarter of a 162-game schedule. That’s also not
including the time in which they report to camp just to work out the
I spoke with John Flaherty and Jim Kaat
about the Spring Training season down in Tampa, Fla., and both agreed that the
Grapefruit/Cactus campaign is way too long. Flaherty told me that most position players are
ready to go by March 15. If that’s the case, there is almost three more
weeks until the regular season actually starts after the time frame in
which Flaherty told me position players are fully ready for the season.
tried to get the pitcher’s perspective on the spring season when I spoke
with Kaat. He told me that even though pitchers need more time
to strengthen out their arms and stretch out their innings, he
concluded that the spring schedule is ridiculous. One thought that he
had was make the Spring schedule only 15-17 games in the month of March
and just have the pitchers report maybe a week earlier than the
position players. Most of these pitchers take the time to stretch out
their innings over at the team’s Minor League complexes anyway in
extended Spring Training games.
As for getting a good look at
potential fringe players that managers have to put on their final
rosters, I think teams can see them in the
shortened spring schedule, simulated games, Minor League games and at
practice during the month of March.
I, like most fans, are just
ready to get this baseball season going now. I’ve been ready for the
last two weeks and I think from the reaction of a lot of the players,
they have been more than ready too.