It’s true: Happiness does breed complacency. The busy season at work is breathing down my neck, but truthfully I haven’t been writing about the Yankees because I’ve been so satisfied watching them lately. (Let me be clear that this has nothing to do with being fair-weather, but more to do with the fact that I’m at my best when I’m complaining. Just asked my husband. He thinks it’s the greatest show on earth when I get up in arms about something.)
But, recently, with the Yankees, it’s been a big ‘ole love fest. Until last night.
I didn’t mind that they lost the last game in Seattle. It’s crappy luck when three pitchers all don’t have it on the same day. But last night was some lazy-*** ****. Things I did not like:
- Managing to leave every man on base who got into scoring position.
- Getting the feeling you get with a number-9 hitter every time A-Rod came up.
- The atrocious double play A-Rod hit into with the bases loaded and maddeningly weak hacks by others
- The swinging-at-the-first-pitch fest that had me tucked into bed at 12:15 a.m. I’ve never seen a Yankees game end that fast.
(BTW – Derek Jeter is always exempt from these critiques in my world, mostly because he just keeps hitting the ball no matter what goes on.)
There are nights when you think your team ran into a buzzsaw. And then there are nights when your pitcher balks in a run and your offense looks like they’d rather be playing cards in the clubhouse. At least they didn’t have to tax the bullpen. It looked like it might happen in the fourth, but A.J. miraculously recovered his cool. The offense? Not so much.
Still, the Oakland A’s are no buzzsaw. We have the Angels and apparently the Rangers for that. So, pretty please, boys can we get the mojo back tonight? I know you’ll be okay in the long run but it’s best not to let the lazy become ingrained.
Saturday, Tim and I set off to the gleaming new palace in the Bronx at 7:30 a.m. Our trip consisted of an uneventful drive to New Haven to pick up the new Yankee Stadium Metro North train. This is unquestionably the best thing they ever did. (And, after the game they have separate trains leaving for those who are only going as far as Stanford and those going on to New Haven, so no overcrowding. Bless you stadium planners, whoever you are!)
The Stadium itself is really a lot to take in all at once. Tim and I agreed that it is now an awesome place to see a game.
Before, it had the mystique but not the comfort. Here’s my sad little no-zoom-lens picture of Pettitte and Molina warming up:
In fact, we had a perfect view of the Swisher Salute during the roll call. I think Tim might have sprained his muscles from rolling his eyes so much. Then, just because it wouldn’t be a Yankee game for us unless Tim felt tortured, they played a montage of Swisher highlights on the enormous screen during the changeover in the middle of the first inning. Delightful. Here are two of the many Swisher fans in our section (I thought I would be in the minority):
Andy looked good through the first six. The game was flying by. Everything was going good (well, not everything. WTF, A-Rod???). And then, the wheels came off. Andy suddenly couldn’t throw a strike; they took him out in favor of Aceves. I have a lot of faith in Aceves, but on this day, it was not to be.
Now, it might have been something I said. Something that was not so nice. About the family of a certain senator from the great state of Massachusetts. I don’t even know why we were talking about that. But whatever it was, Tim said I was about to be struck down by lightening, and immediately Aceves started coughing up runs. Finally, David Robertson got the Yankees out of the inning. With a 6-1 deficit. Great.
At this point, Tim and I had spent our first-born’s college money on bottles of water. I had brought a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen, which was down to its very last bit. But I wasn’t going anywhere. I’m a ride-the-game-out-no-matter-what kind of girl. So, we baked in the sun some more, and I was rewarded with a two-run homer by Jeter that just barely went over the fence and a sweet right-field shot by Tex.
In the top of the ninth, Nomar Garciaparra came up to bat, and the fans booed him as they had been doing all day. Tim, once again, rolled his eyes. “He’s been on three different teams since his was a Red Sock, ” he said. “Well, they’ll stop booing him when you guys stop booing Johnny Damon at Fenway. Get over it.” (Note: I actually like Nomar. I don’t consider him part of the Boston teams that I have grown to hate.)
“Get over it” may have been a little too strong, considering my karma wasn’t that great at the moment. We did get to see Brett Gardner make two great catches in center field, but later found out he’d broken his thumb. The Yankees ninth-inning comeback didn’t materialize, and I was forced to ride the train back to New Haven with a smirking hubby. Here I am smiling before things took such a disappointing turn:
When we got home that night, I told myself that I was not going to watch the game on Sunday. I held to it for about an hour and a half after game time. I didn’t want my terrible karma to interfere with another Yankee win.
But soon curiosity got the better of me, and I turned on the tv….just in time to see Phil Coke give up the lead! Poor Phil Coke – I definitely have a soft spot for him. Thankfully, the Yankee bats came back this time, and Hughes, Bruney, and Mo tied the win up with a nice, neat bow. I guess three out of four isn’t bad. Next time I’ll be nicer in my thoughts about the Kennedys.
First of all – who in the world does not love this man?
I know I’ve said it before, but it bares repeating that Mo is an impressive figure both on and off the field. He seemed confused by the fact that the Yankees would have him throw out the first pitch to last night’s game. Nobody else was confused – they all wanted to give him the standing ovation he deserves.
But I think I sort of had a delayed reaction to the 500th save and all the hoopla surrounding it. I actually got choked up last night with save no. 501. And not because I’m crazy or anything, but because I thought about watching this team in light of the way my grandfathers watched the team and my mother and father watched the team. They all had those players of mythical status that they could say they were lucky enough to watch play: Joe D., Mantle, Yogi, & Maris (my mom’s fave). Of the veterans on the current team, Jeter and Mo fill those spots for me.
I know things are different now. Players’ lives are de-mystified to the point where we have to separate liking the player from the person. But I’m glad I’ve had the chance to root for two old-school type players like them. I always wonder if my kids (should I have any!) will have the same kind of fan experience.
All right, enough sentimental girly stuff. On to a few tidbits that others have mentioned today, but I need to second:
- Brian Bruney shaved the catapillar on his upper lip but it didn’t help him any. Also, he apparently went to the Ian Kennedy School of Quote-Giving.
- Joe Girardi, what goes on in that crazy little head of yours? Phil Hughes is throwing heat, getting outs. Why not bring him out for the next inning? Why, for the love of god!
- Related to the item above: Phil Hughes has moved into second place on my baseball boyfriends list, knocking Joba down to fourth.
- As Pete Abraham noted today, somebody’s got to get the fight back into Joba. Get on that, Dave Eiland. I would hate to have to drop him another couple of spots on my totally ridiculous list.
- Ken Griffey Jr. had a sad look on his face last night. He’s not hitting well, but even worse, he looks like the reality might be setting in that he’s not the player he used to be. I feel for Junior. He lost so much time with injuries, and now his age has become a factor. On the upside, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the first person mentioned whenever someone asks who has/had the sweetest swing in baseball. Plus – great smile.
- Oh, Nick Markakis, you make me love you more each day. Although I don’t know what that country at-bat music is all about.
2nd Inning: Dear Ozzie Guillen, Thanks for being such an asshat and helping to usher in the Nick Swisher era in New York. Love (only in this instance), Kristin
Wild pitch, Andy Pettitte. I can’t blame that on Kate Hudson. Here comes the out-of-control circus inning.
RBI single by Tampa Bay’s hobbling catcher; David Cone is calling it “quick damage.” How about a quick rebound for Andy and the guys in the field?
Nope. Tie game. Aww, hamburgers.
Michael Kay, ladies and gentlemen, lecturing BJ Upton about having dip or chew in his mouth in the outfield. My personal thought is that it’s a disgusting habit, but there’s no reason to pick on one guy – especially when several of the Yankees have that permanent bottom-lip or cheek bump during games.
5th inning: Andy Pettitte looks confused as to what is happening here. You need some outs, big guy.
Ask and you shall receive. Double play. Nice play by Jeter. I would prefer it if Michael Kay didn’t call it a “dance step,” though. Might as well call him “twinkle toes.”
Ha! Kay just brought the hammer down on Swish for the dip thing. Cone was awesome, saying, “Wow, you’re the tobacco police!” I don’t know about telling grown men they can’t do something that’s perfectly legal. If MLB ever tried to outlaw it, I picture Josh Beckett saying something like, “You can pry my dip from my cold, dead hand.”
6th inning: Quick work by Pettitte. This is what makes pitching interesting for me. What made the light-hitting Gabe Kapler so dangerous at that moment, but you can strike out Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena twice each?
Johnny Damon! Nice work, there, Caveman. Gotta take those hanging curveballs and deposit them in the seats where they belong.
7th inning: Please welcome to the stage The Phil Hughes Bullpen Experience. I’m one of those people who thinks it doesn’t help him at all to get sent back down to Scranton. He’s a pro pitcher right now…as evidenced by that masterful inning right there.
Melky, see, what you’re supposed to do there is prolong the inning so my husband can get more and more annoyed at close-ups of Swisher on base. You just had to cut my amusement short, didn’t you?
8th inning: My question is why? Why take Phil Hughes out for Phil Coke? Why is Michael Kay so corny? Why is my husband so threatened by men in pinstripes? Why is Phil Coke walking people on four pitches?
Derek Jeter jacks a homerun. My husband says, “That’s an out in Fenway.” Man, is that annoying.
9th inning: Mo time. Long tirade from hubby on Mo’s age. Mo, apparently, is 75 years old. He hides it well. Oh, how I love when they swing at the high fastball. Game over.
So there’s been a lot of internet chatter about this Fox Sports list of hottest baseball players. I agree that the list was lacking, but everyone has a different take and a different idea of what they find attractive. Many female bloggers made their own lists.
Two things always bug me about these lists: 1.) They often ignore players who are not in their 20s, and 2.) they never include Yankees because people just hate the team that much. Also, there seems to be a trend this year wherein baseball announcers keep telling us that players who are 33 and up are entering the geriatric phase of their lives. This bothers me, rightfully, because I’m 34 myself. Shut up, stupid announcers.
I’ve decided, then, that we could all benefit from an appreciative look at some still-very-hot 33+ players, including a Yankee or two. In no particular order:
9. Paul Konerko (33)
Konerko has always been a favorite of mine. But when the ChiSox were in the World Series in 2005, I found out that he was born in R.I. and that my dad went to high school with his dad. That just added to my affection for him.
10. & 11. Torii Hunter (33) and Brad Ausmus (40)
And, of course, CC was kickin’ it.
He’s another guy who must have that selective amnesia thing down pat. Even after a mistake, he just goes back and tries something else. I guess you can do that when you’ve got a bunch of options in your arsenal.
- This isn’t Yankees news, but last night Dontrelle Willis (Detroit) pitched well and got his first win since coming back from an anxiety disorder. I’ve always liked Dontrelle, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him to continue doing well. Anyone who knows how debilitating anxiety issues can be should be thrilled to see him get back on track.
- This trend is somewhat disturbing. Really, Phil Coke? You’re a nice blonde California boy – what are you thinking? Anyway, it looks like the razors are here to stay. I’m still trying to make my peace with this:
This is Jayson Werth of the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s taking a curtain call because he stole second, third, and then home in the 7th inning last night against the Dodgers. I gotta say, that’s pretty sweet. Here’s a bit about it (with video link) from Yahoo.
In other news, Jeter’s out again tonight. I’m hoping from some good things from Andy Pettitte. Also, let’s see if batting second can cure Swish of his strikeout-itis.
That was a frustrating one. And eye-opening. Who knew Toronto fans would be so bitter over something that happens to bunches of teams every year. Players go where the money is. They go where they think the challenge will be. They go where they think they’ll win a championship. Trust me, the sooner you get over it, the better off you’ll be.
What cracked me up was the announcers for Toronto saying this was a big test for the Blue Jays. Okay, I know why they were saying it, but it sounds kind of silly when you consider all the Yankees injuries and the line-up they put out there tonight.
And speaking of injuries, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui are the latest casualties. Maybe if they try real hard, they can get every guy in Scranton to the show by the All-Star break. Don’t stub your toe, Johnny Damon. We need you.
I like to watch pitchers. I like the whole idea of a one-on-one battle with the hitter and how exciting it can be when someone is just mowing down batter after batter. I like seeing big numbers on the radar gun, but what I really like the best is any pitch with crazy movement.
You have to have a big ego, or at least a lot of inner confidence to be out there on the mound in front of all those people with the game essentially in your hands.
And so, with the mention of big egos, we come to the nasty little secret that colors my recent years of baseball fandom. The secret that’s not so secret to anyone who knows me. The secret that would make Yankee “purists” excommunicate me.
I love Josh Beckett.
I get that he’s not the most cuddly guy around. I get that he can be a complete jack***. I get that he pitches for the Red Sox and, before that, pitched for the team that denied the Yanks a World Series title in 2003. But I’ll tell you this: in 2003 I wished we had someone like him on our team. He was cocky, focused, and never seemed to doubt himself.
Fast forward to 2006 when he became a Red Sox, forcing me to cheer for him personally while still wishing for his team to lose. He got knocked around quite a bit, mostly due to his incredible reservoir of stubbornness. But I still felt that his intimidation factor was high because, more than anything else, he believed himself to be a badass.
Then, in 2007, I got hooked on Joba Mania. In Joba I found all that I had been looking for in a Yankee over the course of the last decade. You see, the workmanlike manner of Jeter and Mo and Posada is great, but I want to see some fire. I want someone who will challenge hitters; someone who isn’t afraid to mix it up. And definitely someone who shows emotion out there.
Joba was all that and then some. And I think he still is despite various bumps in the road. What’s great about him is that he can stalk around the mound and stare down a hitter without giving the feeling that he’s a raging egomaniac 24/7. It’s the difference between confidence and arrogance.
Tonight Beckett and Joba pitch against each other again. I don’t know if I can take it. Joba throws hard and tries to establish himself on the inside part of the plate. Beckett also throws hard and tends to act like he is The Enforcer, put on this earth to unleash f-bombs on anyone he feels is not playing the game “the right way” (see: Abreu, Bobby).
It all just adds some extra tension to a game that already puts people in a mood where they are ready to snap like dry twigs.