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.
Okay. I know. I was the pessimistic one yesterday. And I think the frustration had reached a boiling point for many in the Yankee Orbit. Then, we were treated to this:
The drama! The intensity! The incredibly terrible call by this here ump! I believe that a manager getting thrown out can fire up his/her team. But in this case, I think it was actually the bad call on Gardner getting “picked off” first. It wasn’t even close. Something that maddening is bound to push a frustrated group right over the edge whether the manager gets thrown out or not. And it did. In a good way.
Francisco Cervelli, who does have a way of making good things happen (although I am emphatically not in the group calling for Posada to be put out to pasture), hit his first major league home run, and nobody in the dugout even bothered with the pretense of giving him the silent treatment.
(Speaking of Cervelli, I can’t get a handle on his accent. I know he is from Venezuela and that he played in the WBC for Italy. Is he of Italian descent? His accent kind of had that feel to it in the postgame interview with Kim Jones.)
Mo’s got a bat! Look out. He actually hit the ball pretty hard to center field, although it was caught by Nate McLouth. Of course, CC Sabathia’s reaction was priceless. As soon as the ball came off the bat he started jumping up and down like a mad man. It was kind of an awesome moment. That’s the kind of enjoyment I look forward to seeing from my boys. I hope we get to see lots more of it in the near future.
I wish I could find a picture of CC and Andy Pettitte laughing their butts off at Joba’s ‘athletic’ play. That was priceless.
Also priceless for me was watching Nick Swisher come out of his slump a bit. His two-run double just missed being a grand slam.
I did think I was going to lose my mind, though, in the sixth when the bases were loaded with nobody out and the Yankees couldn’t score. No matter, though. The boys came through in the end, and Joba went eight strong innings to make it stand up. And he was still throwing 95 in the eighth. I love it when a plan comes together.
So, right at the end of the game, my husband walks in. He had just gotten home from work. YES replays the clip of Joba diving for the ball and he says, “That’s why I felt my desk shake at work.” I am not amused. But not even five minutes later, Swisher is with Kim Jones and says something about the ground shaking when Joba dove for the ball. My husband yells, “See? Even he said it!”
Nick, honey, please stop making it so easy for my Red Sox lovin’ husband to make fun. Thanks.
The other night, after a coma-inducing rain delay, Joba Chamberlain was only able to go four innings. I believe he left with the game tied 3-3. Perfect spot for Chien-Ming Wang to come in and get some work, no? No. Instead we got Aceves, who has been good but had pitched a wholly unnecessary inning in the previous game. Things did not end well.
Pete Abraham covered this the other day, questioning why the Yankees would leave a pitcher they once considered an “ace” twisting in the wind. So, last night, when they brought Wang into an 8-2 game, I threw my hands (and the remote) into the air as if to say, WTF?
He did well, considering he was handed a mop. No runs, no hits, two strikeouts, and he threw 18 of his 26 pitches for strikes. Does anyone else feel that he would not be in bullpen limbo if he was more of a squeaky wheel, so to speak?
Forget the Joba debate being ridiculous, this is idiotic. If he’s shown in rehab, minor league stints, and bullpen sessions that he’s much stronger now, why not put him back in the rotation. I don’t think that Phil Hughes deserves to go back to Scranton, but I certainly think that Wang, with his seniority and his overall success, should be given preference. I love Phil, I really do. But I want to know why it’s okay for Wang to sit in the pen and it’s not okay for Phil. Someone, please explain.
I hate rain delays. Last night in Texas, the delay was more than two hours, forcing me to go to bed without watching a pitch. Apparently, it also gave Joba too much time to think, and the results were not good:
He only gave up three runs, but he left in the fourth after 85 pitches, leaving the bullpen to blow up the game. Which they promptly did.
Then, there was this:
Oh sure, one of the few guys who’s actually hitting in clutch spots jams his arm against the wall trying to make a catch? They said last night that tests were negative, but Melky will have an MRI today. Remember when people wanted the Yankees to send Brett Gardner down because Melky was hitting better? Now, it’s a good thing he’s around.
Not to mention that he’s the only one who seemed to do his job last night, going 3-for-5 with three stolen bases and a run scored. The rest of the team’s batting can be summed up perfectly with this image:
Matsui says, “I can’t believe we left 12 men on base and went 2-for-12 with RISP!” To be fair, Matsui wasn’t the biggest culprit here. That honor was shared by the foursome of Mark Teixeira (4 LOB), Nick Swisher (4), Francisco Cervelli (4) and Robbie Cano (3). Grounding into three double plays also didn’t help.
I know that the last couple of weeks have been great and that one or two losses are not a big deal. But this game uncovered some issues that will only get worse as the season rolls on. Or maybe the rain delay just put them all to sleep. What the hell do I know?
This was not good:
Then, this was even worse:
Turns out that, even though Joba was hit in the knee with a line drive, the x-rays were negative and he only has a bruise. The way this team handles the injury information, though, you can never be sure. Joba, stop scaring the **** out of me!
The real problem – or so I thought – was that he had to leave in the first inning. That’s a long stretch of game for the bullpen to cover. But Aceves was good, Albaladejo was okay, and the Yankees had built up a lead before Veras could get in there and ruin it completely.
The star of the night goes to our man Robbie Cano for being generally awesome:
This was a banner weekend for the Yankees. Ok, maybe not completely storybook. I mean, you don’t want to keep getting yourself in the position of having to win by walk-off. But the qualities I want to see in a team that’s in it for the long haul are there.
Even when some people are having critical lapses in judgment…
…there is an aggressiveness that wasn’t there last year. I’m seeing sacrifice bunts and nice defensive plays. I’m seeing better things from the bullpen (which I’m superstitiously scared to even type). And for some reason, we’re seeing a lot more of the guys’ tongues:
Even Phil, Joba and A.J. kept their mental composure and did their best to limit any damage.
So things started looking up this weekend. Good times. Ok, Saturday wasn’t a good time. But Friday and Sunday went well. Of course, Friday and Sunday were the days I couldn’t watch the games! I did appreciate the update on A-Rod’s home run from the emcee at the awards reception my husband and I attended. Especially because he was a native of Boston and a former sportscaster. Nice.
Let’s not even talk about Saturday and my ever-fluctuating fan relationship with Phil Hughes. We know the talent is there. We know he can mix his pitches well. But I don’t understand why he can’t seem to minimize damage. It seems like all his bad innings come with five or more runs. However frustrating Joba’s first inning thing is, at least he regroups and tries to institute some damage control.
Which brings us to Sunday and Joba. I spent the day with Mama Reality Check and other assorted family members…
…which means I didn’t see Aubrey Huff do his little crybaby thing. I know, my words don’t mean much because I’m biased. I love everything about the way Joba goes about his job (except, maybe his first-inning phobia). But competition is about winning. And these guys do whatever they can to win. So, when they’re on the losing end, we’re supposed to believe the winning player or team should care about the loser’s feelings? How messed up is that? I never liked Manny admiring his home runs; but if people in the opposing dugout were actually being honest with themselves, they were admiring a lot of those bombs themselves.
And so it follows that Huff mocking Joba is a kind of, well, wimpy (especially since the O’s lost the game). It’s like telling everyone that you can’t handle the emotional distress inflicted by Joba’s fist pump. I also like how Joba’s response was, “It’s not the last time I’m going to face him.” Umm…what exactly is going to happen the next time you face him, Joba? Because I want to be in front of the television for that.
Also, who could stay mad at the nutty professor here: My husband also said something interesting about the whole first-inning thing the other day. He said that was always the way with Tom Glavine when he was younger. If you got to him in the first inning, you might have a chance to win. If he survived the first inning, forget it. Not sure how he overcame that, but I’m sure Joba will figure it out as he goes along. To me, it’s all about limiting walks. I don’t care if you give up a home run in the first inning – I care when there are two other guys on base at the time.
(Screen grab from YESnetwork.com)
and the group therapy necessary for the bullpen and for Yankees hitters with runners in scoring position.
Joba’s first inning woes are a whole other entry unto themselves. But what really pushed me over the edge into a catatonic state was the fact that I had to watch the game on NESN. You’d think my Extra Innings package would entitle me to choose; you’d be wrong. Extra Innings blocks out the YES feed–even though the game is at Yankee Stadium–every time they play the Red Sox.
Usually I don’t mind. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy can be a highly entertaining comedy duo. But this time around we got stuck with Eck.
Good God, that man is annoying in the booth. Obviously, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to pitching, but color commentary is a little more than that. You shound try not to sound like a middle-school girl giggling with her friends and cracking on the nerds in the hallway.
His lack of preparation was irritating, especially when Joba started pitching like Joba and he had to make sure everyone knew that he was shocked, shocked I say, to see that Joba had more than one pitch. Where have you been? Watching games from behind that shaggy 80s hair, apparently.
Everything out of his mouth was either catty or disingenuous, like when he went all Pollyanna about Joba hitting Jason Bay. Yeah, it might not have been an accident. But we’re supposed to believe a Hall of Fame pitcher is appalled to learn that this sort of thing happens? You know what I say to that? Bitch, please.
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.