What with the badassery coming out of the pen and the longer devil-may-care locks, and the aggressiveness right out of the gate, you may just be my new imaginary baseball boyfriend.
And then you say things like this: “I don’t want them getting on base for free. I want them to earn it,” and my heart goes all aflutter. You’ve cranked it up to a whole new level of awesomeness, and I am seriously digging it.
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.
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.
Memorial Day has become such a relaxing day for me, as it’s the day that marks the end of a frantic time at work. But, it’s also a day of reflection, because my husband and I both have family members who have served in the Marines, the Air Force, the Army, the Coast Guard, and – I think – the Navy. I am grateful for their sacrifice and for all the sacrifices made by the men and women who are currently serving and their families.
As always, baseball (and other spring sports like soccer and NASCAR) are closely linked with this day. They are part of our national identity and the everyday lives of many who serve. I always think of how many MLB players were in the Armed Forces during World War II and the Korean conflict, including Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams. This ESPN feature makes the point that sports can also be a balm for people affected by war. Of course, I am my mother’s daughter, so it made me cry.
In the scheme of things, then, the Yankee game today was a nice diversion and a reminder of how lucky we are. Players like Swish and Damon are involved with charities that help veterans, and the Yankees have welcomed servicemen and women to games this past week in commemoration of Fleet Week. Today they played the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, and the pre-game included this:
In any case, Phil Hughes was in fine form. We all know he can be great at his job, so it’s very exciting when he does just that. I like confident, kick-*** Phil:
I did not, however, like those caps they made them wear. Did it have to be fire-engine red? I kept doing double-takes whenever I saw one of them in the field. It was so incongruous with the Yankee uniform.
I had some trepidation about this game for two reasons: Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler. But, happily, Phil kept the entire Texas line-up at bay, and the Yankee bats teed off on the Rangers’ pitchers. Watching that could not have been a good time for Rangers Team President Nolan Ryan.
In particular, A-Rod had it goin’ on all day long. I’m not always Alex’s biggest fan, but you’ve got to love a guy who has learned how to thrive on the boos he gets, to the tune of 5-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored.
After a night of sushi and beer with the girls, I was thrilled to find out about the back-to-back-to-back home run action that went on in the Bronx. If there is anything better than watching BFFs Robbie and Melky do well at the same time, I’d like to know what it is.
I was also stoked about Phil Hughes’ nine strikeouts. I would like him to be a little more economical, but we must be patient. Rarely does everything come together all at once for a 22-year-old kid, even when people insist on calling him a phenom.
But predictably, none of this was of interest to my husband. As soon as I got in the door, he told me about Papi hitting his first home run of the season, and then he asked his new favorite making-fun-of-me question: “So, did Swisher help any old ladies across the street today?”
Look, I’m a pretty jaded gal when it comes to sports figures. I prefer to make up nice things about them in my head to combat the avalanche of jackassery that goes on. So, when I see one of them doing nice things and actually being a bit genuine from time to time, it’s a shock to the system. This usually results in a geeky fangirl mega-crush (which, let’s face it, is pretty common in the Yankee Universe right now, and previously in Oakland and Chicago).
My point is simply that there is a reason why people are talking about him (and by people I mean me). This just adds to the love fest.
That woman is seriously courageous, and I don’t doubt that her presence at the game was an inspiration, as trite as that sounds. Most of the time, athletes have a distorted perception of what’s important, but this is not one of those times.
In a related thought, is there any way we can start a grassroots movement to get Swisher off the dip? I understand this would be akin to prying me away from Diet Coke, but it just seems at odds a bit with all the work he does for people with cancer.
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)
Listen up, because I’m going to give you some real student-of-the-game analysis from last night’s 11-0 win. Ready? Here it comes:
Yay Phil Hughes!
Yay Jose Molina!
Yay Nick Swisher!
Yay Mark Melancon!
Wasn’t that enlightening? Truthfully, this was a game where I felt the frustration level might hit a breaking point. It was nice to see that the breaking point resulted in 11 runs. It was sort of a “mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore” inning.
The reality check is that it came off Detroit’s bullpen. When Phil Hughes gives you a start like that, you really should be able to get to the other team’s starter. But all’s well that ends well.
And, if you’ll let me geek out for a minute, how cool was it to see Hughes with his confidence back and all his pitches working? He really endeared himself to me last year with the way he handled a difficult year. He seems like a laid-back guy. I know some fans take that as not caring as much about the game, but I don’t think that’s true. I actually think he’s better off coping with disappointment from a more laid-back perspective. By the time I saw him pitch against Pawtucket towards the end of the summer last year, he seemed to be well on his way back. I think guys like him can bounce back, in part, because they don’t overreact to what everyone is saying about them. I hope Chien-Ming Wang will be able to muster the same fortitude.
Lord, this weekend was rough. Sitting in the stands at Fenway when Jason Bay hit that homer to tie it on Friday was no fun.
By the time Saint Ellsbury stole home on Sunday, I was not even remotely surprised. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had crapped purple horseshoes right in front of Posada at home plate. (And I like Jacoby, but the ESPN announcers were paying a nauseating amount of homage to the guy. You would have thought he just walked on water and fixed the economy.)
The most bizzaro-world discussion for me, however, was Joe Morgan saying that the Red Sox prospects on the farm were so much better than the Yankees farmhands. He explained by stating that Phil Hughes has been a prospect for a whole two years now and it hasn’t worked out for him, but the Red Sox have Clay Buchholz, who has been a prospect for….ummm…about the same amount of time as Phil Hughes! That’s some crack logic there. But it is Joe Morgan, after all.
The beat writers who cover the team regularly see many reasons for hope and positivity. The entire starting rotation bonded well in spring training. Robinson Cano is back to hitting like we know he can. Swisher and CC lighten up the dugout a bit. Austin Jackson and Mark Melancon were/are waiting in the wings in Scranton. The national media is just tripping over itself to play up the schedenfraude angle and pretend like not much has changed since 2003.
Look, I understand the Yankees aren’t great anymore. Their bullpen stinks, not because Joba’s not in it, but because the guys in there (minus Mo) blow chance after chance while the young guys are sitting on their hands in Scranton. (Does it really take a 15.00 ERA for Damaso Marte to get Melancon on a plane to New York?)
But it’s not like the Yankees are the bumbling doormats of the American League that people are trying to make them out to be. Apparently, that’s the fantasy of many writers who want to take a provocative stand on something–anything!–and fans who either don’t know baseball or are jealous that their team doesn’t have the same resources. Life’s tough in the capitalism business, you know what I’m sayin’?