By Jon Lane
She spoke and people listened for 85 years. She’s dark and empty, and soon will no longer be with us, yet she still speaks with conviction.
I heard her voice stuck in traffic on the Major Deegan, on the exit ramp and emerging from the parking garage. It was then she said it: “They’re taking it tonight.”
Yankees in 6. The new place is quiet at the moment, but the buzz is palpable. It doesn’t guarantee winning or losing, but fate and karma has played huge role in the Yankees’ 2009 regular season. The old lady is demanding she be heard one last time.
Joe Girardi is meeting the media in five minutes. Figure on him announcing the lineups – Nick Swisher or Jerry Hairston Jr. in right field is the only suspense – along with sharing more thoughts about being in position to win it all and answering for the thousandth time why he’s starting Andy Pettitte on three days’ rest and how long Mariano Rivera can go.
UPDATE: Swisher is in right. Girardi’s been fielding questions on going with his season-long starter, clinching at home, Mark Teixeira’s slump and A.J. Burnett’s availability (yes in an emergency).
On the iPod en route to the Bronx: A block of Judas Priest, the ideal band to get you pumped up. Now playing: Tommy Bolin’s “Wild Dogs,” another great tune to get one in the zone.
Back with a whole lot more later.
4:42 p.m. Quick hits from Girardi’s pregame press conference:
On the chance to win a World Series at home:
I think any time you get a chance to close it out in front of your own fans, it’s special, especially being the first year at the Stadium and what it would mean to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankee organization and all the people of New York. I’ve been on championship teams where we’ve won it at home and where we’ve won it on the road. And it seems to be a little bit louder and crazier when you do it at home.
On the decision to start Swisher over Hairston
“Swish has been our everyday right fielder. We thought it was important that Swish just sit down for a day. His at bats have been very good since we sat him down. We don’t always look at how many hits you get. We look at the at bats, and does the hit the ball hard, and does he square ball up and is he seeing pitches? That’s what we look at.
“Swish has been our everyday right fielder, and that’s what we’re doing.”
On being second-guessed:
“Well, as far as that, that pretty much happens a lot year in New York during the regular season, as well, so you get kind of used to it.
“The interesting thing about what people were calling second guessing that I’ve always thought is curious is they don’t know if their idea would have worked. Everyone makes the assumption that it would have worked. We base our decisions on a lot of preparation, a lot of discussion. We don’t do anything where we just pull something off the wall and with the intent of it working.
“The one thing about baseball and in life, every decision is not going to go according to plan, and you have to deal with it and you have to answer for it, and you understand that here.”
On the Yankees’ Core Four:
“They understand the moment, they know how to handle the moment. They’ve been through it and can share their experiences with others. They know that they’re not going to be fazed by the situation because they’ve been through it so many times together. So I mean, we like having that. And I’m sure they like having what they went through last year together as a club.
“Experience is important.”
7:36 p.m. Settled into my spot in Section 405. No pregame news to discuss. Let’s face it, the talking is over and everyone is psyched for first pitch. Just now I heard the first chants of “Who’s your daddy?” (and that’s old and weathered, too). While paying for dinner at the NY Grill, Margaret the cashier was wearing her collection of World Championship pins. I asked if she has room for a new one if it comes down to it. She said her guy has one ready and waiting, just for her.
7:50 p.m. Mary J. Blige gave a beautiful rendition of our national anthem before Scott Brosius threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
7:58 p.m. Andy Pettitte’s first pitch is a ball to Jimmy Rollins. The game-time temperature is 47 degrees.
8:02 p.m. Great start for Pettitte. He needed eight pitches to retire the Phillies after getting the red-hot Chase Utley to ground into a double play. Right now the Stadium is playing a highlight montage to Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy.” It’s their best one yet.
8:24 p.m. Another good inning for Pettitte. It got slightly hairy when he threw a wild pitch to Pedro Feliz with two out that advanced Jayson Werth to second base. Feliz popped the next pitch behind home plate where Jorge Posada made the catch.
Pedro Martinez looked sharp early too. Wishful thinking suggested the Yankees pound him early, but you know he’s not going down without a fight.
8:34 p.m. Godzilla goes boom! 2-0, Yankees off Hideki Matsui’s third homer of the 2009 World Series, fourth of this postseason and 10th of his career. The joint is jumping. Pedro’s hearing it now.
Matsui’s World Series numbers so far: .600, 4 HR, 9 RBIs. The Yankees want to free up the DH spot, but it’s going to be very tough to not re-sign him.
8:39 p.m. 2-0, Yankees after two. There’s a long, long way to go, but Pettitte is a guy you feel comfortable with protecting a lead.
8:48 p.m. Well, Carlos Ruiz tripled and scored on Jimmy Rollins’ sacrifice fly. It could have been a lot worse. To reiterate, there’s a long, long way to go.
9:10 p.m. Two more runs plated by Matsui, now .636-4-11 in the World Series. This was bigger than his home run because it came with two out and after A-Rod was caught looking. Godzilla is making a serious case for both Series MVP – despite not starting three games – and to play in the Bronx for another season.
Pedro, by the way, has thrown 62 pitches. His night may be over. Jerry Hairston Jr. meanwhile, is now in left. Uh-oh.
Memo to Pettitte: You have a three-run lead. Do what you do.
9:17 p.m. Damon has a strained right calf. He probably did it coming home to score.
9:24 p.m. Pettitte works out of trouble again. He’s been walking a tightrope and is at 62 pitches after four innings. I’m wondering more and more whether Girardi will deploy Rivera in the seventh.The lefty was livid with plate umpire Joe West, BTW. West’s strike zone is tight enough. Probably not the best idea to tick him off.
9:43 p.m. Yankees ahead 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Anticipation reached another level when Pettitte retired Jimmy Rollins on an inning-ending double play. He has enough for two more innings to get it to Rivera.
9:48 p.m. Tex breaks through with an RBI single. 5-1, Yankees. Fans starting to smell it, but still a ways to go.
9:57 p.m. Matsui – again. That’s six RBIs and for the first time I felt this place shake. He’s tied a World Series record (Bobby Richardson, Oct. 8, 1960, Game 3 WS).
10:10 p.m. Fans chanting “Andy Pettitte!” Nice touch. Who knows what his future will be if the Yankees seal it?
10:11 p.m. The beast has awakened. Ryan Howard’s two-run homer makes it 7-3. Yogi is a genius.
10:14 p.m. Raul Ibanez’s double ends Pettitte’s night. The lefty sprinted to the dugout and tipped his cap. It’s Joba time with two out in the sixth.
10:19 p.m. Joba cleans up. Nine outs to go, three to get to Rivera. I don’t care if the Yankees blast J.A. Happ to make it 10-3. Lock it down.
10:47 p.m. Not Joba Version 2007, but he gets two outs. Girardi doing anything and everything to give Rivera a lead in the eighth, which means Damaso Marte is in to face Chase Utley with two on. Marte’s been flawless since Game 2 of the Division Series, but still hold your breath.
10:50 p.m. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night. Marte does his job. Six Mariano Rivera outs to go.
10:54 p.m Game 6 attendance: 50,315 – including Kate Hudson. A new Yankee Stadium high.
11:06 p.m. Godzilla is human, yet if he doesn’t bat again he’ll finish with a .615 batting average in the 2009 World Series. That is insane.
11:10 p.m. Marte will pitch to Howard to open the eighth before Rivera opens for business. Makes sense.
11:14 p.m. Give Marte a ton of credit. He was an afterthought for much of the season after starting poorly and landing on the DL. He whiffs Howard (13 Ks in the WS) and gets a nice ovation. Five outs to go and the place is going nuts for Rivera. I’m headed downstairs to get in postseason position.
11:25 p.m. Three to go.
1:45 a.m. Finally back from the crazy party in the clubhouse. A TON of ground to cover. The old lady had her say.
By Jon Lane
I started covering the Yankees regularly in 2003, preceded by two seasons (1997 and 1998) for a magazine when I wasn’t as immersed in the daily grind. The last time the Yankees won it all was 2000 when Mike Piazza’s loud out put a scare into Yankees Nation before it landed safely in Bernie Williams’ glove. That was at Shea Stadium. The last time the Yankees celebrated a World Championship on their turf – the original Yankee Stadium – was 1999 after completing a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.
In the nine years since Shea it’s been near-misses, heartache and high hopes smashed to pieces. We’ve had to endure Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Tony Womack, Kenny Lofton, Angry Randy Johnson … I’ve probably left out a few. Fans have all shared in the pain of bitter disappointment and another year of waiting.
Okay, 26 World Championships will never be matched and will always be cherished. But the Boston Celtics never stopped compiling championship trophies. Neither did the Montreal Canadiens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Los Angeles Lakers or John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. Outsiders like to view dynasties and institutions with scorn; fans appreciate it and always leave room for more.
The Yankees have won 113 games, more than anybody in Major League Baseball. They have to win one more. If they don’t, 113 wins mean nothing and the Phillies will deserve the accolades that come with being a repeat champion, and their fans will have earned the right to brag.
Tonight is Game 6. The hell with the safety net. The Yankees need to get it done – and it’s your chance to implore them to close the deal. Show Philadelphia that New York is louder, prouder, crazier. Don’t fret over the chance of a Game 7 or how you may wake up tomorrow with laryngitis.
Of course, how the Yankees respond is totally out of your control, but the illusion of influencing the outcome by superstition and prayer is part of being a fan, and there are things the Yankees can control to put them in position to finally finish the Phighting Phillies:
? Leave no doubt: The great Pedro Martinez stands in the way one more time. As always he arrived with bravado and will take the ball with confidence.
“Everybody that grows up in the Dominican and didn’t have a rich life is a survivor,” Martinez said during Tuesday’s media conference. “And in baseball I’m a survivor. I’m someone that wasn’t meant to be, and here I am on one big stage.”
You can hate him if that’s your prerogative, but Martinez demands your respect. That said, there’s no stopping you from giving him an enemy’s welcome, writes Benjamin Kabak, one of our friends from River Ave. Blues. There’s been debate over Andy Pettitte starting on three days’ rest and the possible usage of Mariano Rivera for more than two innings. The Yankees’ offense can eliminate those seeds – and keep stress levels at a minimum – by pounding Pedro early and feasting on the Phillies’ weak bullpen.
? If Chad Gaudin had started Game 5 and gotten lit up, many would be screaming at Joe Girardi about why he didn’t go for the kill with A.J. Burnett. It’s the nature of this beast, and now that we’re at Game 6, give Girardi a break. You want Pettitte on the mound tonight – period. He’s 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four postseason starts, and tops baseball’s charts with 17 playoff wins and five series-clinching victories.
“He’s done it the whole year, but there’s something about the postseason that makes him rise to the occasion,” Burnett told reporters on Tuesday. “I think we’re going to be all right.”
While Pettitte hasn’t gone on short rest since his final start of the 2006 season, he also had at least one extra day’s rest over his final eight starts of 2009. The extra rest has made a world of difference for CC Sabathia. It will help Pettitte.
“I would think that he’s rested,” Girardi said. “That we haven’t had to overwork him the last two months, that’s probably why he feels extremely well.”
? Provided the bats don’t blow away Pedro or the Phillies’ bullpen, and if Pettitte and the Yankees take a close lead into the seventh inning, lock it down. I don’t always agree with Mike Francesa, but Rivera’s had two days rest and probably won’t throw again until February. Ride that final leg with the greatest closer ever.
“Hopefully, we don’t need it,” Rivera said. “We will have to do whatever it takes to win the game. It’s a big game for us.”
Rivera’s ERA this postseason is 0.63 ERA in 11 outings (one run, nine hits in 14 1/3 innings). Opponents are batting .176 against him. He’s saved 39 postseason games and closed out 14 clinchers. Convinced?
Talk to you tonight. If you can get to Yankee Stadium early, here’s a rundown of the festivities:
4:50 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. Yankees take BP
5:00 p.m. Gates Open
5:50 p.m. – 6:50 p.m. Phillies take BP
7:35 p.m. Lineups Announced
7:45 p.m. Presentation of Colors: United States Coast Guard Color Guard
7:46 p.m. National Anthem: Mary J. Blige
7:49 p.m. Ceremonial First Pitch
7:51 p.m. Game Ball Delivered to Mound – Boys and Girls Clubs of America
7:52 p.m. Umpires and Managers to Home Plate
7:55 p.m. Yankees Take the Field
7:57 p.m. First Pitch
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.
To 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.
“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.
By Jon Lane
Here’s something pretty cool: Yankee Stadium’s field level and Great Hall are open to the public to watch Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on the facility’s colossal hi-def televisions. Turnstiles between Gates 4 and 6 will open at 3:30 p.m. for the 4:13 p.m. first pitch.
Food and concession stands will be open and available, as will NYY Steak and Hard Rock Cafe will also be open.
By Jon Lane
I wrote in this space after the Yankees’ took two of three from the Red Sox last month at Fenway Park that the men from the Back Bay aren’t dead yet. Alas, the Red Sox are winners of seven straight games and 10 in a row on Yawkey Way.
There won’t be too much suspense these last few weeks. The Yankees’ magic number for clinching a playoff berth is four, which means you seriously do not have to worry about a Mets-like September collapse. But homefield advantage throughout the postseason is far from wrapped up, even if New York leads Boston by 6 ½ games in both the AL East and the right to host that extra DS and LCS game.
Red Sox-Yankees at Yankee Stadium next weekend now has some intrigue. The Yankees’ AL East magic number is 11, and the way the BoSox are playing you figure the Bombers will spray champagne in their own clubhouse either that weekend or the following week when the Royals are in town. This brings up a question, writes Pete Caldera. Do you celebrate clinching the playoffs with the big champagne party, or wait until you clinch the AL East?
Nothing ever seems to go right for the Angels when they play the Red Sox. They’ll arrive to Fenway for the finale of a three-game set tonight still steaming over controversial calls that they perceive cost them Wednesday’s game. Closer Brian Fuentes actually wondered whether the men in blue were too “timid” or “scared” to make a decision that riles the temper of Red Sox Nation.
“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls,” Fuentes said after twice failing to get a third strike called on Nick Green before walking him with the bases loaded score the tying run. “I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”
Barring any late comebacks, the clubs will meet for a third straight time in the first round of the playoffs, where in the last two Octobers the Red Sox have eliminated the Angels, who are 1-9 against Boston in the postseason since 2004.
Updating you on two of the Yankees’ potential playoff opponents, the Tigers rallied from a three-run deficit Wednesday to snap a three-game skid on the night they honored the iconic Ernie Harwell, while the Twins completed a sweep of the Indians to take a four-game win streak to a showdown with the Tigers this weekend, three of seven remaining games between the clubs this season.
Detroit leads Minnesota by 4 ½ games entering today and is trying to hold on with a pitching staff of Justin Verlander and fingers crossed. (I initially didn’t mention Edwin Jackson, but the Royals are currently lighting him up and, like Rick Porcello, we’ll see how they respond with the season on the line.) Jarrod Washburn has given up at least three runs in each of his last five starts and a bum knee has bumped him from his scheduled start on Sunday. I’m just sayin’.
New York Yankees Media Relations
The Yankees today announced 2010 full-season ticket license pricing for regular season games at Yankee Stadium. Prices for 97 percent of tickets will either remain the same or decrease.
Of the 50,086 seats in the Stadium, prices for 41,928 tickets (84 percent) will remain the same from 2009, while 6,454 tickets (13 percent) will see a decrease in price. There are 1,704 tickets (three percent) that will have an increase in price.
“At the beginning of the season I said that we would look into our ticket prices and review them at the end of the year to see where changes needed to be made,” said New York Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. “We have had a great opening year. Over 90 percent of our inventory has been sold, and we are leading Major League Baseball in attendance. This plan reflects the changes we believe are appropriate. We will continue to review the ticket policy on a year-by-year basis.”
A total of 3,400 Field Level seats currently priced at $325 as part of full-season licenses will drop to $250 or $235 each next season, depending on their specific location. Additionally, all 1,208 Suite seats in the Delta Sky360° Suite will see a decrease in price, as will 1,846 of 1,894 Suite seats (97 percent) in the Legends Suite. The balance of the Legends Suite seats will have no price change.
All Field Level seats not in the aforementioned locations will remain at their current prices. Additionally, non-Suite tickets in the Bleachers, Grandstand and Terrace levels will see no change in price in the 2010 season.
In the Main Level, 10,111 seat locations will see no increase. The remaining 1,704 seats in Sections 216-217 and 223-224 currently priced at $100 will be $125 next season. These mark the only increases for 2010.
A date is yet to be determined for the on-sale of 2010 season tickets.
A grid reflecting full-season ticket pricing in non-Suite locations is below. For information as it becomes available, please visit Yankees.com.
By Jon Lane
This release from the Yankees:
On Thursday, September 10 at noon, Yankee Stadium will host a press conference on the field to announce the upcoming boxing match between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao, taking place on November 14, 2009, at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Gates will open at 11:00 a.m. to the public for the free event, with the press conference slated to begin at noon.
Pacquiao, in my view, is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. His last fight he knocked out Ricky Hatton in the second round and before that battered Oscar De La Hoya into retirement via a ninth-round KO.
The original Yankee Stadium hosted 30 championship bouts beginning with Benny Leonard’s lightweight title defense against Lou Tendler on July 24, 1923. Fifteen years later, Joe Louis famously knocked Max Schmeling in the first round to earn some redemption, one of eight title bouts Louis fought at the House that Ruth Built.
The last fight at Yankee Stadium was Muhammad Ali’s unanimous-decision defeat of Ken Norton in 1976. Here’s hoping a new tradition soon begins at the new place.
By Jon Lane
WCBS-AM traffic reporter Tom Kaminski, aboard Chopper 880, provides the latest overhead shots of the old Yankee Stadium being taken apart. This time the seats are being removed. I’m still finding it very difficult letting go of the House That Ruth Built.
By Jon Lane
The secret to Jonathan Albaladejo’s success? Simple. After taking his warm-up pitches on the mound, he has a way of blocking out all distractions (fans taunting, piped-in stadium energizers, what have you). He shouts to himself, “SHUT THE [HELL] UP!” Over his last couple of appearances Albaladejo escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam and was part of Wednesday’s yeoman effort by the bullpen. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.
Before the game, it was my turn to get punk’d. I’m exiting the visitors’ clubhouse and let the door close behind me. Suddenly I hear a loud thud and an angry cry. I was made to believe that I failed to realize that someone was right behind me and did not hold the door open. The security guard who prevents riff raff from entering sacred ground shoots me a dirty look. I open the door worried about the person behind it. He shoots me a smile, points and says, “Nothing happend. I’m okay.” The guard let out a laugh that reverberated through the vast hallway.
Every game a Yankee Stadium employee parks himself into an open seat on press row and through a walkie-talkie communicates runs, hits, errors, runners left on base and the current line score, to the people manually updating the old-school scoreboards in left and right field. I’ve never seen that at Fenway Park. There must be a tried and true system that’s done right by Red Sox employees since 1912.
Imagine yourself in the zone, working feverishly to beat deadline off a 4:57 game and you’re interrupted by the piercing sound of a fire alarm. This wasn’t a drill, nor was it an actual emergency. Yet this went non-stop for about 15 minutes. A few fed-up writers made phone calls and implored on-site security to rectify the situation.
Poor Johnny Damon. A fan reached for a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki in the second inning, denying him of any chance to make a play. Instant replay upheld the original home run call, but that didn’t stop a few fans from briefly giving this one person the Steve Bartman treatment. Well, maybe not that bad, but why this yearning for a souvenir when it can break a difference-making play, especially when it goes against your team?
As for Damon, he misplayed Jason Giambi’s fly ball in the third, which led to the Athletics’ fourth run after homers by Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera trimmed the A’s lead to 3-2. For the rest of the game, fans sitting in left field gave Damon sarcastic ovations with every catch and chanted his name during the rest of his at-bats. This wasn’t the usual roll-call, folks.
From the for what it’s worth department: CC Sabathia lifetime against the A’s: 3-7 with a 6.26 ERA, the highest against any AL team. He starts Monday in Detroit, and is 13-9, 4.70 versus the Tigers and 7-2, 3.80 in 11 starts at Comerica Park. His one start there last year wasn’t pretty: nine runs on eight hits (two homers) in four innings pitched.
Has anyone noticed Robinson Cano is on a 10-game hitting streak and batting a team-high .367? The player many wanted traded has 22 hits this month. Last April Cano was 15-for-106 (.151) in 29 games.
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