Tag:New York Yankees
Posted on: April 23, 2010 9:35 pm

More A-Rod being A-Rod

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What's the big deal with this Alex Rodriguez-Dallas Braden dustup?

Why, I thought A-Rod was quite restrained while crossing the mound and stepping on the pitching rubber while returning to first base on Thursday.

It's not as if he planted the Yankees' flag atop the mound or anything.

Seriously, after talking with several baseball people about the incident Friday, here's the big deal: Common sense and respect for an opponent should preclude someone from using the mound as a shortcut. Pure and simple.

Nobody I spoke with Friday brushed it off as A-Rod being wronged. His closest defender, of course, was Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who called the whole thing "boys being boys."

To review: With one out in the sixth inning, Rodriguez went from first to third on what turned out to be a foul fly ball. Instead of retracing his steps back to first, he cut across the mound.

"Everybody has a point of view," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Friday night's series opener here against the Angels. "That's the beauty of our country. That's the beauty of the human mind.

"I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious."

Braden started the controversy when he hollered at Rodriguez on the field during the game, but really ignited it afterward.

"He should probably take a note from his captain [Derek Jeter] over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game," Braden told reporters. "I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."

Said Girardi on Friday: "As far as what Dallas said, I'm concerned with how my player reacts. I'm not concerned with other players."

I talked to several people in the game about the incident on Friday, none of whom were eager to step into the latest A-Rod controversy. The consensus: Rodriguez should have avoided the mound. Or, failing that, he should have simply cut across the very back part of the dirt, or the very front part.

Just as the plate is the hitter's piece of real estate, one player told me, the mound is the pitcher's.

"I wouldn't like a pitcher running through the batter's box and messing up my dirt if he was coming back from behind the plate," the player said.

The only person I spoke with who was prepared to defend A-Rod first wanted to know where Braden was at the moment. If Braden was not on the mound, the person said, then it is no big deal. But if Braden was standing on the rubber or in the vicinity of it at the time, then it's confrontation time.

Answer to that last question: Braden was returning to the mound himself, and was a step or two onto the third-base side of the mound when A-Rod jogged directly in front of him, easily brushing within a couple of steps of him.

You can see the video for yourself here.

My take: It's not as if A-Rod committed a felony. But it's another in his long list of stupid and uncecessary moments.

Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:38 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 7:14 pm

Tigers, Braves, White Sox woo Damon

A long, cold winter appears poised to thaw for outfielder Johnny Damon, who is mulling offers from Detroit and Atlanta with the Chicago White Sox in the mix as well, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Damon, who helped freeze himself out of the Bronx by declining a Yankees offer earlier this winter, now has multiple options as the start of spring camp draws near. He is expected to make a decision in the next few days.

Detroit's offer, confirmed by sources on Thursday, is believed to be for significantly more money than that of Atlanta, which extended an offer at mid-week. Agent Scott Boras, who has a history of coaxing Detroit owner Mike Ilitch into financial territory beyond where Tigers baseball people are comfortable (see Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez), reportedly has received an offer from Detroit with variations that could be worth $7 million over one year or $14 million over two.

The Braves' offer, according to multiple reports, is in the neighborhood of $4 million for one year with a portion of that deferred.

That Atlanta's pitch to Damon would be lukewarm makes sense because, in the National League, Damon would have to play full time in the outfield, where scouts say his skills have deteriorated. Damon, never blessed with a strong throwing arm, was moved from center to left field by the Yankees in 2009.

In Detroit -- or, with the White Sox -- Damon could serve as a designated hitter. Though, the Tigers also have an aging Carlos Guillen, so Damon likely would get some outfield time as well.

In the Detroit and Atlanta scenarios, Damon would fill a specific need: Leadoff hitter. In Chicago, Damon would help fill top-of-the-order needs as well, but the White Sox also acquired Juan Pierre from the Dodgers earlier this winter. 

The Braves believe they've never had a true leadoff hitter. Detroit, which lost the AL Central lead on the last weekend of the 2009 season, since has cut loose Placido Polanco (who signed with Philadelphia) and traded Curtis Granderson (Yankees). The White Sox, who used Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik atop the order last year, also have long felt they've lacked a true leadoff hitter. Thus, Pierre, and, perhaps Damon (who, at the very least, would give the White Sox another needed lefty bat).

The Braves could be attractive to Damon for a couple of reasons: President John Schuerholz was the general manager in Kansas City when the Royals made Damon their first-round pick in 1992, and they train in Orlando, Fla., where Damon makes his off-season home. Furthermore, Orlando is a short flight from Atlanta, one that Damon could easily make on Braves off days during the season.

The Tigers' money, though, is expected by many in the industry to make Damon overlook all that.

Meantime, Damon, 36, would arrive with flashing caution lights in at least some areas: He's older, his defense has eroded some and there is some sentiment that his offensive numbers last year were inflated by new Yankee Stadium's hitter-friendly demeanor. While he equaled a career-high with 24 home runs, 17 of those were at home. The other seven all came in AL East division ballparks.


Posted on: November 25, 2009 1:56 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2009 2:29 pm


This long weekend, we give thanks. For all sorts of things. ...

 For turkey and dressing. Because after a 162-game season, man needs something other than hot dogs and beer.

 For loving (and understanding) family and friends. Because, really, you can only cuddle up to the Rally Monkey or your authentic Derek Jeter jersey for so long.

 For the Yankees' 27th World Series title. Because their long-suffering fans have been so patient and understanding during such a drastic drought.

 For wall-to-wall football on the big-screen TV during Thanksgiving weekend. Because as much fun as it is to watch football, it also reminds us of how much we're missing when the baseball season goes dark.

 For childhood memories at the holidays that continue to keep you warm all those decades later. Playing football with your brother in a soft snowfall in the vacant yard next door that seemed so big then and looks so small now. Watching the Lions lose again (yes, even back then) while mom -- every bit the artist in the Thanksgiving kitchen that Picasso was with a brush -- put the finishing touches on dinner. Nighttime dominoes and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. No school, wide-open days and Christmas around the corner.

 For CC Sabathia. Because even the Yankees are likeable behind his smile.

 For Cy Young races as close as the NL this year with the Tim Lincecum-Chris Carpenter-Adam Wainwright finish. Because it is things like this that give us something to argue about all winter, which sure beats discussing your wife's plans for the kitchen remodel or your daughter's unlimited texting plan!

 For the game No. 163 that the Twins and Tigers gave us in October. We knew then that there was no way any other postseason game was going to match that one in terms of drama and emotion, and we were right. For anybody with a pulse, it was one of the great moments of the season. Or, as Orlando Cabrera called it, the "most unbelievable game I've ever played or seen."

 For the Angels' Torii Hunter, the Twins' Joe Mauer, free agent Jason Bay, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, the Tigers' Curtis Granderson, the Brewers' Trevor Hoffman and the many other good people in the game who have given back to their community over and over again, reminding us why a big league club can be so valuable to a community.

 For the Web site The Sports Pickle, which keeps us howling at times throughout the year with "stories" like this one: MLB to Complete Long-Awaited 1994 Season.

 For crazy folks like the guy who voted Detroit's Miguel Cabrera first on his AL MVP ballot, the only one of 28 voters who didn't have Mauer first. Because it is mistakes like this that make us realize that when we do bone-headed things on our own, we're not alone. The only explanation I can think of is that Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News in Japan -- he's based in Seattle and covers the Mariners -- turned in his ballot before the final weekend of the season, when Cabrera pulled an all-nighter and police were summoned to his home to quell a domestic disturbance with the Tigers battling to hang onto their AL Central lead. Because given that stunt, Cabrera not only didn't deserve a first-place vote, he didn't deserve to be on the 10-deep ballot.

 For two years' worth of touring from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, whose odyssey just closed on Sunday night in Buffalo, N.Y., leaving many of us to ponder when we'll ever attend another concert that matches that level.

 For Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Because we all need living museums.

 For the two wacky managers in Chicago, Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen. Because they're so passionate, and so entertaining.

 For Christmas being just around the corner. Because you know several cool surprises are just around the corner. And look, here's one now. You've got to check out this crazy Bob Dylan video from his new Christmas album. It'll put a smile on your face for the rest of the day, I promise.

 For good health, good cheer and good friends.

 To all who come around here regularly, whether to cheer or to boo, thanks. And a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Likes: A hearty shout-out to the Falcons of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, who clipped Constantine 23-17 in a Michigan state football semifinal on Saturday and will play for the state title on Friday against No. 1-ranked Montague at Detroit's Ford Field. Congratulations to the Falcons and old classmate and friend Coach Jack Giarmo, whose work with a proud program continues to be top-shelf. Go get 'em on Friday, fellas. Go green! Scouting report is here (from the good guys' perspective, of course).

Dislikes: Still looking for a reasonable last-minute airfare to get to Friday's title game. Still looking. ... Still looking. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Catholic Central hats off to thee
"To your colors true we will ever be
"Firm and strong, united are we
"Rah, rah, rah, rah
"Rah, rah, rah, rah
"Rah for the Falcon team"

-- Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High School fight song

Hey, the state title game is this week. We gotta go with this one.


Posted on: November 5, 2009 12:00 am

Yankees win 27th World Series

NEW YORK -- The World Series takes personal checks. Credit and debit cards, too.

Score one for the Yankees, and their bankers. Hideki Matsui as World Series MVP? Maybe. The three home runs were clutch, and the World Series record-tying six RBIs in Game 6 were smashing.

But the chief bean counter who sat behind the desk last winter and approved the expenditure of nearly $425 million to hoist CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett aboard the U.S.S. Yankee? Now there's a true Yankee.

In the end, Team Steinbrenner delivered a 7-3 gold-plated, Game 6 World Series clincher for the ages, knocking the stuffing out of these Phillies and Pedro Martinez at every turn. On a 48-degree evening Wednesday, they won their 27th World Series title and, finally, climbed out of the muck of their long and torturous drought.

"Pinstripes are bigger than baseball," Teixeira said while The Champs were in Philadelphia the other day.

Consider that a modern update of the old Joe DiMaggio line, "It's great to be young and a Yankee."

"When you play for an organization like this, you humble yourself," Tex continued.

Or you wear a lot of rings.

Andy Pettitte won the clincher on short rest, Joe Girardi proved he can fill (at least partially) Joe Torre's World Series-winning manager's office and Alex Rodriguez no longer is a postseason klutz.

The Yankees are kings of the baseball world. They are Pedro's daddies, and Sugar Daddies. The Bronx Bombers ride again.

The Commissioner's Trophy again will wake up in the city that never sleeps.

Posted on: November 3, 2009 5:29 pm

What, no police escort?

NEW YORK -- A breathless Derek Jeter came hurrying into the clubhouse to dress for Tuesday's 4 p.m. Yankees workout, arriving at 3:42 p.m. and apologizing to reporters for having no time to talk.

The problem?

Same thing as happens to thousands of working stiffs throughout the land every day: Stuck in traffic.

"I didn't think I was going to make it, man," Jeter told one of the Yankees media relations officials while hurriedly dressing for the Yankees workout before Game 6 here on Wednesday. "I was stuck in traffic for, like, an hour and 15 minutes."

At least he was dressed appropriately, wearing blue jeans with a retro T-shirt reading "Genuine Ford Parts."

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 2, 2009 11:27 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2009 1:11 am

Phillies send World Series back to New York

PHILADELPHIA -- You might say, for A.J. Burnett, Game 5 of the World Series was sort of like being on the business end of a whipped cream pie to the face.

The staple that Burnett started and fans quickly embraced during the summer, Burnett sneaking up from behind and crushing a pie into the face of a heroic teammate during a television interview -- Look! The Yankees like to have fun just like regular human beings! -- seemed so distant.

The Game 2 virtuoso performance, the pinnacle of Burnett's career so far, seemed so yesterday.

Game 5 was quick and ugly for Burnett, down and dirty for the Phillies. They sent this World Series back to New York with an 8-6 thrashing by jumping Burnett early and often.

The $82.5 million pitcher who was so sharp in Game 2 was incredibly not sharp pitching on three days' rest for the first time all season Monday. He was clocked for three runs in his first eight pitches. The Phillies scored six runs before Burnett had obtained one out in the third inning.

At one point with Burnett on the mound, the count stood at six outs and nine Phillies baserunners.

What knocked him so badly off balance?

Don't tell me it was pitching on short rest. While Burnett hadn't done it this year, he had done it three times in his career and was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA on those occasions.

No, the difference was a complete reversal of the Phillies approach.

Where their strategy at the plate against Burnett in Game 2 was to take pitches, wait for him to start losing control of his curveball and then make their move, their approach in Game 5 essentially was: To hell with that. Arrive at the plate hacking.

Four days earlier, Burnett threw first-pitch strikes to each of the first 11 Phillies to face him in Yankee Stadium. Of those 11, eight Phillies took the first-pitch strike without swinging.

Facing elimination Monday, three of the first four Phillies swung hard at the first pitch they saw from Burnett. And the only reason it wasn't four-for-four is because Shane Victorino took a first-pitch fastball off of his right knuckles.

Jimmy Rollins swung and missed, then took ball one and then fouled off three consecutive pitches before cracking a hard single. The next two pitches were each first pitches: Victorino was drilled and then Chase Utley crushed a three-run homer. Next up, Ryan Howard walked and Burnett was reeling.

It was the most consecutive batters to reach base safely at the start of a World Series game since Game 2 in 2002 when the Angels' David Eckstein, Darin Erstad, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson collected four consecutive hits.

Then, this was choice: Second time around the order, the Phillies backed off. Utley and Ryan Howard drew walks, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez followed with base hits and bing, bam, boom, three more runs crossed the plate.

It was the smartest game the Phillies have played so far. It almost made up for them leaving third base uncovered while Johnny Damon ran wild in the ninth inning of Game 4.

While Burnett wound up throwing first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 26 hitters he faced in Game 2, he lasted just 15 hitters Monday before Joe Girardi had to open the doors to a Yankees bullpen that has the tendency to take on water quickly (see Coke, Phil, who threw as many home run balls in the seventh inning as the number of outs he obtained: Two).

For Burnett, it was the shortest outing in the World Series by a starter since Roger Clemens, then of Houston, worked just two innings against the White Sox in Game 1 in 2005.

Posted on: November 2, 2009 4:25 pm

World Series: Special deliveries from Arkansas

PHILADELPHIA -- Rather than calling out "Play Ball" to start Game 5 of the World Series tonight, plate umpire Dana DeMuth may want to give one of those "Woo pig sooey!" calls they do so well at University of Arkansas football games.

Tonight's starting pitchers?

Philadelphia's Cliff Lee is from Benton, Ark.

The Yankees' A.J. Burnett is from North Little Rock, Ark.

What's next, President Bill Clinton throwing out the ceremonial first pitch?

"It's interesting," says Burnett, who also shares an agent (Darek Braunecker) with Lee. "They've got two country boys from Arkansas going out. ... We talked [Saturday]. First thing out of his mouth was, 'Look at that Budweiser sign in right, that's what I'm going to be aiming for.'"

Burnett might smile a bit if he thinks of that when Lee settles into the batter's box tonight to face his buddy, but he vows he won't be trumped.

His response when Lee threatened to take Burnett deep?

"Go ahead, because I can hit, too. I was in the National League for six years."

Braunecker negotiated a five-year, $82.5 million contract for Burnett with the Yankees last winter. Lee is signed through 2010, and if he continues dominating as he has over the past two years, Braunecker stands a good chance to top Burnett's contract with Lee.

"I didn't really know him growing up," Lee said of Burnett. "He was a little ahead of me, but I knew who he was, obviously. There's not a lot of guys from Arkansas getting drafted, much less making it to the big leagues.

"For us, we've met each other over the years and became friends and stuff, but it's not very often two guys from the state of Arkansas make it to the big leagues, much less square off against each other in the World Series."


Posted on: November 1, 2009 5:44 pm

Yanks: Rivera won't go beyond an inning in Game 4

PHILADELPHIA -- As you're watching Game 4 tonight and playing along with the managers, here's one thing to watch for: Don't expect Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to collect a two-inning save, as he did in Game 2.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he doesn't expect to use Rivera for more than one inning tonight after Rivera threw five pitches in Game 3 Saturday night.

"I probably wouldn't ... tonight, either," Girardi said of the possibility of using Rivera for two innings, something the manager said he wouldn't do before Game 3, either. "Because he's thrown two out of three days.

"His workload a couple days ago was pretty heavy, so he probably wouldn't do any more than an inning."

In earning the save Thursday night in Game 2, Rivera threw 39 pitches, the most he's ever thrown in a World Series game.

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