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The Once and Future King
2005-08-31 13:57
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"I don't think we're talking about poise here...I think we're talking about a 97-miles-per-hour fastball and a curveball from hell." Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire

Tonight gives an extremely compelling pitching match-up in Seattle. If you root for the M's I'm sure that there are precious few games you'd like to see your team win more than this one. Seattle's teenage dynamo "King" Felix Hernandez squares off against one of the league's best offenses, while thier erswhile ace Randy Johnson pitches for New York. I do not get the MLB TV package or Direct TV so I have not seen Hernandez pitch yet. Better still, I haven't even seen highlights of him, just still photographs. Hernandez has a round, open face, and apparently poise to spare along with incredible stuff. He's what they'd call "the Emmis" back in the old country.* All I know is what I've read, and that's plenty to keep me up to see what the fuss is about. Pitching against the Yankees is sure to bring 'em out to Safeco and have the boys at Baseball Tonight salivating.

For obvious reasons, nobody has followed Hernandez's rookie campaign as closely or as passionately as the good folks over at the U.S.S. Mariner (here is a selection of posts for you to peruse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). There have also been King Felix pieces by Bill Simmons, David Schoenfield, and commentary from Bert Blyleven.

I expect this to be a close game and figure that Johnson will be sharp. Perhaps it will be a crisp pitcher's duel like the one Johnson had against Roy Halladay earlier this season. It is an exciting game for the M's but an even more important one for the Yankees.

All aboard.

* Emmis is the Yiddish word for "the truth."

That is all.

Comments (107)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-31 14:53:12
1.   yankz
Wow, he was almost a Yankee? Tough break.
2005-08-31 14:53:16
2.   yankz
Wow, he was almost a Yankee? Tough break.
2005-08-31 15:09:09
3.   Shaun P
For those of you (like Alex) who haven't seen King Felix pitch yet, go out of your way to catch some of this game. He is truly something to watch - thank you, DirecTV! - and I'm curious to see how well he does against the Yanks lineup, even if Flaherty is catching.

I agree that we'll need a vintage Unit outing tonight - hopefully facing a 19-year-old kid nicknamed "King" will angry him up good.

2005-08-31 16:39:35
4.   JohnnyC
Alex or Cliff, just read on the YES site that Small is pencilled in for Sunday(?). Isn't Moose's next turn Saturday?
2005-08-31 17:02:50
5.   Zack
This is totally off topic, and I apologize, but SI.com is running a review and rankings of all of the baseball stadiums as their cover piece. Its one of those silly things that seem to get done every so often, ranking atmosphere, food, tailgaiting etc....Anyways, the point is, take a look at the rankings: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/baseball/mlb/08/31/fvi/index.html

Fan Value Index: Final Rankings
Rank Team Stadium
1 Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park
2 Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park
3 Colorado Rockies Coors Field
4 L.A. Angels of Anaheim Angel Stadium
5 Atlanta Braves Turner Field
6 St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium
7 Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park
8 Cincinnati Reds Great American Ball Park
9 Arizona D'backs Bank One Ballpark
10 Cleveland Indians Jacobs Field
11 Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field
12 Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre
13 Boston Red Sox Fenway Park
14 New York Yankees Yankee Stadium
15 Oakland Athletics McAfee Coliseum
16 Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field
17 Texas Rangers Ameriquest Field
18 Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards
19 Seattle Mariners Safeco Field
20 Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium
21 Houston Astros Minute Maid Park
22 San Diego Padres PETCO Park
23 Tampa Bay D-Rays Tropicana Field
24 San Franciso Giants SBC Park
25 Los Angeles Dodgers Dodger Stadium
26 Washington Nationals RFK Stadium
27 Minnesota Twins HHH Metrodome
28 Detroit Tigers Comerica Park
29 Florida Marlins Dolphins Stadium
30 New York Mets Shea Stadium

Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Anaheim, and Atlanta as the top five best places to see a baseball game, are you insane???? I have heard Pitt. is a nice stadium, but the problem being that you 1) have to be in Pitt. and 2) have to watch the Pirates...

Am I crazy for thinking they are crazy?

2005-08-31 17:29:32
6.   marc
what else is new? Boston just came back from a 5-1 deficit to tie TB in the 5th.
2005-08-31 17:31:07
7.   randym77
How do they always do that? What do you have to do, drive a stake through their hearts? :-P
2005-08-31 17:50:27
8.   Jen
//What do you have to do, drive a stake through their hearts? //

Nah, with their coiffures, silver bullets should do the trick.

2005-08-31 17:51:26
9.   Marcus
At first glance I was shocked to see SBC Park so low, since it's such a nice stadium, but when I read how they did the rankings it makes sense. There aren't many people who would claim McAfee Coliseum is a better place to see a ball game than SBC Park, but I know way more people that go to A's games regularly than Giants games (although maybe it's just the type of people I hang out with, because I'm not sure attendance figures would suggest the same thing). Ticket prices, accessibility, quality of team; if you look at it that way, the rankings start to make sense.

Plus I find it entertaining to see a fight in the upper deck almost every game at McAfee.

2005-08-31 17:52:06
10.   randym77
ROFL!
2005-08-31 18:10:27
11.   Marcus
Millar hits two home runs? Ugh.
2005-08-31 18:15:44
12.   marc
Well, Boston now headed for a win. Millar 2 run blast makes it 7-5 Sox in the bottom of the 7th.

With these 5 good teams(Yanks, Sox, Cleveland, Oakland, and The LAAof A) fighting for 2 spots we may have too little margin for error to make the post-season. At any rate we have the talent but it ain't going to be easy.

2005-08-31 18:27:28
13.   rbs10025
About the park rankings, a bunch of parks are really bunched together.

Note that between St. Louis (#6) and San Francisco (#24), there is only a 6-point difference in the score. There's a 22-point difference between #1 and #30.

Talk about a bell curve.

2005-08-31 18:52:47
14.   Shaun P
Stupid Red Sox and their comebacks.

At least Cleveland is losing going into the bottom of the 9th - as much as I'd like to see them catch the White Sox, our needs come first.

Re: ballpark rankings, ESPN.com's Page2 did it a couple years ago. The rankings gave lots of info - most of it subjective, of course - but at least meshed with what I thought was right. But these SI rankings . . . Camden Yards 18th? WTF!?

PNC Park in Pittsburgh is a gorgeous stadium - every seat makes you feel like you're right on top of the field. But Anahiem Stadium? The blahness of Turner Field? I'm missing something. Is it really another rant about how expensive trips to the ballpark have become, as opposed to actual rankings?

2005-08-31 19:00:24
15.   Cliff Corcoran
Blah blah blah ballparks. Hey, we've got a hell of a game on our hands (I hope, part of me expects this to disappoint as these sorts of match-ups always do).

King Felix has five major league starts under his belt. His first was a short outing to get adjusted (5 IP, 84 pitches, 1 ER) that the M's wound up losing. In his second outing he pitched eight scoreless. Since then, he's allowed one more run each time out, his last start being a 7 IP, 3 R stint in which he gave up his first two major league home runs (both to White Sox rookie Brian Anderson). His last two starts have been no decisions, with the M's losing the most recent to the Chisox.

To me the most startling stat Hernandez has posted thus far has been just five walks in 36 IP (against 38 Ks).

The Yanks are sitting Bernie today and starting Tino at first and Giambi at DH. Flaherty, of course, catches Johnson. Bellhorn rides pine. Sheff's back in right, Lawton in left, Matsui in center.

2005-08-31 19:00:50
16.   marc
OK, Cleveland just lost and one of the 2 west coasters has to lose since they're playing each other so the night won't be terrible
2005-08-31 19:02:42
17.   Jen
I think the problem with those ratings is everything is weighted the same. Personally, atmosphere is much more important than playgrounds and games for kids.

From the Yankee page: "not much for the kids aside from the action on the field and the occasional action in the stands when a Red Sox fan foolishly cheers for his team."

Geez, when my dad took me to the Stadium as a kid I thought it was the greatest thing to actually watch a game in person. Silly me.

2005-08-31 19:03:12
18.   Cliff Corcoran
I should have said "always seem to do."

I think the Yanks will need to kick into "Pedro Mode" tonight.

2005-08-31 19:12:19
19.   yankz
At least the kid's wild...if he settles down, it could be tough. He can really throw.
2005-08-31 19:12:58
20.   Dan-el
Man he throws hard ... the term "easy gas" really applies to him.
2005-08-31 19:16:24
21.   monkeypants
OK, I'm getting the Seattle feed and after one inning Niehaus' constant commentary on and running total of 97 mph pitches is already insufferable ("What a way to start--seven 97mph pitches in the first inning...").
2005-08-31 19:18:06
22.   yankz
haha monkeypants, i agree...compared to these grandparents, kay and co. are pretty colorful...
2005-08-31 19:18:24
23.   marc
damn, I wish ESPN had the game where I am. At least I'm one of the rare oddballs who thinks Sterling is great to listen to at least for a Yankee fan so I'll listen on the computer.
2005-08-31 19:22:10
24.   Alex Belth
Hernandez threw a lot of fastballs in the first inning. Only two or three off-speed/breaking balls. He was a little juiced and walked two batters. But Matsui (double play) and Rodriguez tapped out weakly to short. Hernandez's fastball has movement and he keeps the ball low, low, low.

Yikes.

Randy Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 first, striking out two.

Yeah.

2005-08-31 19:23:50
25.   Alex Belth
Felix made Tino look foolish striking him out in the second. Anyone has ANY faith in Tino against this guy?
2005-08-31 19:24:17
26.   yankz
they came awfully close to dissing tino, which is a no-no.
2005-08-31 19:24:52
27.   Alex Belth
This game could move along quickly, huh?
2005-08-31 19:26:43
28.   Cliff Corcoran
Tino can hit the fastball, so I have faith, but then Hernandez's "fastball" has all sorts of late movement. The first one he threw to Jeter almost hit DJ in the shins (97 MPH, Jeter swing and miss).
2005-08-31 19:27:05
29.   marc
If bth these guys are on tonight this could go awfully fast
2005-08-31 19:31:52
30.   Cliff Corcoran
Anyone notice that Justice seems to be patterning his broadcasting rhythms after Joe Morgan?
2005-08-31 19:32:34
31.   yankz
to clarify, by "they" i meant the mariners commentators...they were laughing at him after he saw strike 3.

Yeah Cliff, i thought the same thing about his fastball- if they don't overwork this kid early, he's going to be great.

2005-08-31 19:39:36
32.   Alex Belth
RJ with four K's through two innings. Not as efficient as the kid, but he's throwing hard.

The spector of the blowout fifth hangs over his head though...

2005-08-31 19:39:59
33.   Cliff Corcoran
That curve he dropped on Flaherty was a monster.
2005-08-31 19:41:17
34.   randym77
Wow! Somehow, I wasn't expecting Cano to be the one to hit the first homer off this guy.
2005-08-31 19:41:17
35.   Dan-el
CANO!! Expect the unexpected.
2005-08-31 19:41:19
36.   Cliff Corcoran
HUZZAH!!! Apparently only rookies can hit this kid, all three homers he's allowed have been to rookie hitters.
2005-08-31 19:41:33
37.   yankz
HA! Eat that, phenom.

Maybe only young kids can hit him.

2005-08-31 19:48:15
38.   JVarghese81
Hell of a good game so far but got lines of meetings early tomorrow so gotta hit the sack. That blows - i was really looking forward to seeing the rest of this duel...hopefully, when I wake and check this site, it'll be good news from tonight. Go Yanks!
2005-08-31 19:52:04
39.   Dan-el
Great play by A-Rod.
2005-08-31 19:52:56
40.   yankz
Hey, that's Jeter's play...

Arod for MVP.

2005-08-31 19:53:03
41.   randym77
All right, A-rod! That was beautiful.
2005-08-31 19:53:40
42.   Cliff Corcoran
JVarghese81: set a tape.
2005-08-31 19:54:52
43.   Cliff Corcoran
Good to have Sheff back.
2005-08-31 19:54:57
44.   randym77
That "rookie" Sheffield looks pretty good. ;-)
2005-08-31 19:55:06
45.   Dan-el
SHEFF!! Yes.
2005-08-31 19:56:23
46.   yankz
How do you beat Sheffield? The idea of throwing it by him is laughable. And yet, his hands are so fast he can wait on your offspeed stuff. Man that was a laser.
2005-08-31 19:57:38
47.   randym77
What the heck is that stuff that was poured on the field?
2005-08-31 19:59:51
48.   Cliff Corcoran
Justice is wisely keeping his trap shut tonight.
2005-08-31 20:00:56
49.   Cliff Corcoran
King Felix is very saber-friendly. Nothing but the three true outcomes (K, BB, HR).
2005-08-31 20:12:40
50.   jkay
Mendoza is joining the yanks tomorrow.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-31 20:22:05
51.   yankz
And the 5th inning passes without an implosion!
2005-08-31 20:24:47
52.   marc
Randy's got 80 pitches. If he still has a no hitter when would he come out?
2005-08-31 20:27:41
53.   Cliff Corcoran
Damnit, Marc!
2005-08-31 20:30:23
54.   Cliff Corcoran
Right on schedule. Thanks again, Marc.
2005-08-31 20:30:51
55.   yankz
im calling #52 as the jinx.
2005-08-31 20:31:10
56.   marc
Sorry Cliff, next time I'll shut the F up
2005-08-31 20:31:12
57.   yankz
Guess im the 2nd.
2005-08-31 20:32:25
58.   Cliff Corcoran
Yeah, you didn't help, yankz, but at least you didn't say the magic word(s).
2005-08-31 20:33:17
59.   yankz
I wrote post 55 after the double. I know the rule, you dont even hint at it.
2005-08-31 20:33:18
60.   yankz
I wrote post 55 after the double. I know the rule, you dont even hint at it.
2005-08-31 20:34:39
61.   Cliff Corcoran
I know you did, yankz. That said, once Marc blew it . . .

Don't worry, Marc, we won't hold it against you. You've learned your lesson.

2005-08-31 20:37:34
62.   Cliff Corcoran
Seriously, with the way the infield was playing behind him and balls I thought would drop staying up for Matsui in CF, I really thought Johnson was gonna do it.

And as I type that another strong play from Rodriguez.

2005-08-31 20:37:53
63.   marc
At least I'm I'm glad he got out of the inning. I like this board and didn't want to have to head to Siberia. Tino wasn't helping. (grin)
2005-08-31 20:38:02
64.   yankz
Arod's D has been great.
2005-08-31 20:39:44
65.   Cliff Corcoran
Still just 3 hits in the game through six innings, I'd say this has lived up to the hype.
2005-08-31 20:41:35
66.   Cliff Corcoran
King Felix is one walk away from doubling his career total in this game.
2005-08-31 20:45:18
67.   yankz
Long night for Tino.
2005-08-31 20:46:36
68.   Cliff Corcoran
Okay, Tino has looked awful in this game. I take it back, Alex.
2005-08-31 20:51:38
69.   Dan-el
Damn A-Rod was so close to making another great play.
2005-08-31 20:51:55
70.   Cliff Corcoran
Screw the throw, that was a great play by Rodriguez. Good thing it wasn't still a no-no, that would have been a brutal call for the official scorer.
2005-08-31 20:54:04
71.   Cliff Corcoran
Three hits through six, now three hits in the seventh alone. We will see the pens in this game. Johnson's at 109 pitches.
2005-08-31 20:58:07
72.   yankz
Gordon in the 8th?
2005-08-31 20:58:18
73.   Cliff Corcoran
Johnson was throwing nothing but mid-90s heat to Torreabla to keep the M's scoreless. I think that was his last batter (it should be) and he was emptying the tank.
2005-08-31 20:58:53
74.   Cliff Corcoran
Yup, Gordon, but with Mo already warm. That's my call. The Yanks need this game.
2005-08-31 21:00:23
75.   BklynBomber
Quick aside on the AL batting crown stats: Young went 3-4 tonight (now .325), Damon 0-4 (.322), and with A-Rod's 0-2 so far, he's at .319.

The HR and AVG are within reach for A-Rod, but he's gotta go on a ribby tear to catch Papi/Manny for the Triple Crown.

2005-08-31 21:00:40
76.   yankz
Flaherty hitting = Johnson in the 8th?
2005-08-31 21:01:43
77.   yankz
Fox's "Simulcam" (Mariners feed on mlb.tv) is pretty sweet.
2005-08-31 21:02:07
78.   uburoisc
Did one of the morons on espn just say that Matsui was a great athlete in the field but that "he just can't hit"? I swear I heard that. I never thought i would go to the Yes network for broadcasting relief.
2005-08-31 21:02:22
79.   Cliff Corcoran
Cano now has half of the Yankees hits, runs scored, RBIs and total bases in this game.
2005-08-31 21:04:17
80.   Cliff Corcoran
Yankz, I don't think that equasion follows. Torre just won't use that back-up catcher unless someone points a gun to his head. Nieves (terrible as he may be) is up tomorrow when rosters expand, so that will go away for a month, thankfully.
2005-08-31 21:06:15
81.   yankz
Ah, yes, good point Cliff. Plus at this point, is Posada's bat worth the risk?
2005-08-31 21:07:15
82.   monkeypants
It's also the rest-Jorge-day (with a day game tomorrow), so Torre won't use Posada unless the team is behind.
2005-08-31 21:07:30
83.   Cliff Corcoran
Anyone else afraid this game is going to slow waaaaayyy down now that both starters are (we assume) done?
2005-08-31 21:11:26
84.   Cliff Corcoran
Another fly ball by Home Run Suzuki. Thanks for going away from what made you an (undeserving) MVP and the single-season hit king, Ichy.
2005-08-31 21:12:55
85.   Cliff Corcoran
Nice inning by Gordon. That rest'll do ya good.
2005-08-31 21:12:58
86.   BklynBomber
Good job, Flash!
2005-08-31 21:14:31
87.   yankz
Now Enter Sandman...a nice 8 pitch inning and we can all sleep happy.
2005-08-31 21:16:51
88.   Cliff Corcoran
Morse plays LF like the SS he is.
2005-08-31 21:20:15
89.   Cliff Corcoran
The intensity of this game has fallen off the table with Nelson and Thornton on the mound. The U.S.S. Mariner crowd, by the way, calls Thornton "the towel" as in "With Giambi due up, Hargrove decided to throw in the towel."
2005-08-31 21:27:28
90.   monkeypants
Wait, Torre pinch hits for Tino with Bernie--with 2outs in the ninth and the runner on first? This move will require Giambi to go to first. Oh yeah, Bernie hits worse RH this year. So, a move that adds little (if any) offense and weakens the defense. Of course Bernie walks, (happily) making me look bad.
2005-08-31 21:28:05
91.   yankz
Man this inning is taking forever...I wanted to sleep before 12:30.
2005-08-31 21:29:05
92.   singledd
looks like our fate is in Mariano's hands.
2005-08-31 21:30:13
93.   Jen
Bellhorn can play first too, right?
2005-08-31 21:32:59
94.   JeremyM
Bellhorn can play first, he did it in Chicago for a few games, 20 or so.
2005-08-31 21:33:17
95.   Cliff Corcoran
Jen, yes.

Yankz, see #83.

2005-08-31 21:34:08
96.   JeremyM
Well, if Mo has to bat, we're in trouble!
2005-08-31 21:36:12
97.   BklynBomber
Amazing how many hitters bite on that shoulder high fastball!
2005-08-31 21:37:56
98.   Cliff Corcoran
I hate when Sheff catches flies without raising his glove above his shoulder.

That said . . .

Huge win. Great game. Very satisfying evening of baseball.

2005-08-31 21:38:10
99.   BklynBomber
Sheff never fails to stop my heart with that catching style. Whew!
2005-08-31 21:38:27
100.   yankz
Rivera's high fastball: You know it's coming, and there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

Goodnight.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-08-31 21:41:07
101.   Paul in Boston
I kept wanting to turn the thing off and go to sleep -- it's past my bedtime, after all -- but of course stayed up to watch this great game.

Hernandez reminds me of Kerry Wood, as well as obviously Gooden. Who knows what the future will hold for him ...

2005-08-31 21:43:53
102.   marc
sensational pitching all around. Kind of performance that makes you think we're going places. If we make the post-season I think the game 1 starter won't be Chacon
2005-08-31 21:45:09
103.   JeremyM
I got in the cage the other day, and the speed was only 70 mph (although it was only about 40 feet away). I managed two foul tips. After that experience, it's amazing how many hitters don't bite on the shoulder high fastball.
2005-08-31 21:56:58
104.   Schteeve
yeah especially if you know you aren't going to hit the cutter.
2005-08-31 22:11:28
105.   tommyl
JeremyM,

Its actually harder to hit 70mph from 40 ft away. I can't remember the exact numbers but your reaction time is about equivalent to a high 90s or 100 mph fastball as I recall. Add in that with a machine you have no view of the release point and its pretty tough. Of course, you don't have to worry about the cutter, or say whether the pitch is in fact an 89mph slider thats gonna hit you in the knees.

2005-08-31 22:31:57
106.   JeremyM
Well, I feel a little better about it now. I kind of guesstimated it was coming in about 90, but I'm not sure my girlfriend bought it:) Not that I was ever worth a damn when I played, but I could usually hit in the cage, at slower speeds.
2005-08-31 22:37:05
107.   Schteeve
by the way, as much as I've ripped RJ this season, good work by the big feller tonight. Ayup.

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