Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Choose Your Own Wang Pun
2008-06-11 03:55
by Emma Span

Right Place, Wang Time? Wang Turn? If Loving You Is Wang I Don't Want To Be Right?

Generally speaking, scoring twice in the first inning and then not at all for the next seven frames is not a recipe for success. But the Yankees made it work last night, thanks mostly to Chien-Ming Wang’s return to form, and pulled out a 3-1 win over the surprisingly non-crappy Oakland Athletics to go one game over .500 yet again. (As Cliff noted last night, the A's aren’t likely to keep up this pace, but it’s still an impressive start for a team whose biggest star is probably... I don't know, Eric Chavez, I guess? One day I’d love to see what Billy Beane could do with a payroll of more than $17.83.)

Wang was efficient through seven and a third, and while Oakland’s leadoff batter reached base in EVERY SINGLE inning, Wang allowed just one run, thanks to a bevy of ground balls and well-timed double plays. Apparently pitching coach Dave Eiland had urged him to “get the ball out of his glove a little bit quicker,” which would improve his sinker. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what that really means or why it would be true, but it seems to have helped.

In fact, even Wang’s one run allowed should have been unearned. It came in the 4th inning, after Wilson Betemit made what looked to me like an obvious and fairly egregious error on a Jack Cust grounder, but it was ruled a hit, and the run eventually scored. “Isn’t this the big leagues?” asked a bewildered Ken Singleton when the scoring decision was announced. Betemit is a pretty ungainly defender, so it’s a good thing his bat makes up for… oh, wait.

Anyway. Earned or un-, the Athletics’ lone run wasn’t enough. The Yanks scored their decisive two in the first, when Derek Jeter walked and Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi (ignoring his usual warm and loving reception from the Oakland fans) each hit RBI singles. Oakland starter Dana Eveland was described by Joe Girardi, after the game, as “conveniently wild,” which sounds about right. He walked six, but his stuff was good and unpredictable, and the Yankees never really got a rally going. In the ninth Melky Cabrera homered off our old pal Keith Foulke, tacking on an insurance run which Mariano Rivera, pitching for the 4th straight day, didn’t need.

Perhaps it’s just that I’d gotten used to the perma-calm of Joe Torre, but I’m always struck by Joe Girardi’s intense emotional reaction to pretty much every game: you can watch him in a postgame interview and tell within seconds whether the Yankees won or not. It’s not just his facial expression, either -- he actually appears pale and worn if they don’t win, like he’s in physical pain. While it's nice to know how much he cares, that can't be healthy, can it?

Miscellaneous thoughts:

-The As pitched Jason Giambi up and in all night – guess they read the scouting report - which resulted in two pitches barely missing his head and a third hitting him in the back. I very much doubt that any of that was at all intentional, but: if you can’t pitch up and in safely, don’t pitch up and in. The pitch in his first at-bat looked like it came within a few inches of his skull.

-In the sixth inning Giambi actually tagged up and moved to second on a fly ball, and it was quite a sight. When your own family, watching in the stands, cracks up imitating your running style, you know you don’t exactly have the grace of a gazelle. Still, between that and his shift-beating RBI hit in the first, it had to be a satisfying day for the Porn ‘Stache of Doom.

-In the 8th, Alex Rodriguez reminded everyone that catching pop ups remains the one and only element of baseball he’s not great at. It’s hard to understand how someone can rush to 500 home runs in record time, steal bases with a high success rate, throw bullets, and field efficiently after learning a completely new position halfway through his career...yet go sprawling awkwardly while failing to nab a routine pop-up. I’m not complaining -- it’s just odd.

-Joe Girardi went to Jose Veras in the 8th, after Wang was pulled, and Mariano Rivera in the 9th for the fourth straight day, the first time Rivera's pitched in that many consecutive games since 2005. Kyle Farnsworth was available, apparently not bothered by the “fatigue” in his bicep, but I’d say Joe Girardi is suffering from Farnsworth fatigue. Every baseball fan in the tristate area, to Girardi, in unison: We told you so.

2008-06-11 05:50:19
1.   rbj
I have one quibble with Ken Singleton. In the second inning when Giambi got to second, Ken said he was in scoring position. Jason Giambi on second isn't in scoring position. Jason Giambi on third isn't in scoring position. Jason Giambi with his foot on home plate is in scoring position.

And after that inning I went to bed. I hate west coast games.

2008-06-11 05:50:57
2.   pistolpete
Wang was extended?
2008-06-11 05:58:09
3.   Ali Nagib
I still want a "got wang?" shirt.
2008-06-11 06:04:11
4.   3rd gen yankee fan
0 What if we're not in the tristate area? Can we still say We told you so ? Overall, it would be much louder then. Girardi might actually hear it.
2008-06-11 06:10:38
5.   Just fair
Joe G by the end of August?
2008-06-11 06:37:41
6.   Dimelo
2 That's hilarious! I guess he wasn't flacid.
2008-06-11 06:46:07
7.   ny2ca2dc
"Porn 'Stache of Doom", YES!
2008-06-11 07:08:37
8.   mehmattski
Wang kept it down, A's offense went soft.
2008-06-11 07:16:20
9.   Bama Yankee
We got in from our trip late last night and I was a little wired so I got to catch most of the game. Nice win (Giambi's scamper to second was hilarious).

BTW, going to Yankee Stadium for the first time was unbelievable. It was one of the few trips that actually exceeded my lofty expectations (another was my trip to the Masters a few years ago, but this trip was better). We stayed in Jersey City and took the Yankee Clipper ferry (thanks to Sliced Bread for the idea) to the game. The ferry is a great trip (nice sightseeing tour and the breeze was perfect on such a hot day). The only drawback to the ferry is that you don't get to the game very early (some people might actually like that feature). We got to our seats just before the Anthem.

We had great seats (in the shade) and everything about the game (except the final result) was perfect. I even thought the stadium food was not that bad (as far as stadium food goes). Taking the stadium tour yesterday was the icing on the cake. We got to tour Monument Park, walk on the warning track, sit in the dugout, go into the clubhouse and sit in the press box. The tour is something you should check out if you get a chance.

Thanks to Alex, Sliced, Jeb and Shaun P. for the shout outs during the game thread. You were right Shaun, I was feeling pretty good when A-Rod hit that homer (especially since I got a nice little video of it on my camera). Also, thanks to those who gave me great advice to help me plan the trip: Chyll Will, Sliced Bread, Ms. October, Williamny23 and others.

2008-06-11 07:18:26
10.   mehmattski
9 Sounds like an awesome experience! I hope I have as much fun in my day at the Stadium in July!
2008-06-11 07:18:37
11.   standuptriple
Couple things. Even the A's announcers (Fosse particularly) said that should have been an error, he even said he wasn't going to change it in his scorebook (to reflect the "hit"). Also, due to the large foul territory in OAK a lot of visiting players have a hard time with the 3B side. Very few players handle it nearly as well as Chavez.
2008-06-11 07:21:26
12.   horace-clarke-era
Nice, Emma. And "Apparently pitching coach Dave Eiland had urged him to "get the ball out of his glove a little bit quicker," which would improve his sinker. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what that really means or why it would be true, but it seems to have helped. "

Thank you for that. I share the 'how and why that helps?" query. Gets his arm aligned, and his horoscope? A somewhat useful reminder there is 'stuff' in this game we're oblivious to. As well there should be, or OYF and I could manage this team.

Also agreed that Girardi shows the pressure. Makes the boy human, because there IS pressure (look at the Banter!) but as we've discussed, absorbing it and deflecting it or reducing it for players IS part of the job-description, especially in NY. Everyone knows my views on how good Torre was at this and how much it mattered.

The problem, of course with Farns-itis, is you need to have OTHER dudes you can trust, even late at times, or Everyday Mariano Rivera will be toast. If Hawk AND Farns are mop-up types for Joe G, Cash better start working the wires and the phones. Veras has clearly jumped Edwar (no jokes please) for this week, anyhow. Not that he was so very reassuring last night (yeah, I stayed up until ... Enter Sandman cue ... Melky homered and I knew Mo wouldn't Blo.)

The whole game felt like a disaster waiting to happen and I carefully stayed away from the game thread here!

2008-06-11 07:23:27
13.   pmarcig
I played shortstop my whole life and can say the two hardest plays for me were two that probably seemed the easiest to anyone watching: the ground ball right at me (where I didn't have to move left or right) and the sky-high pop-up. And it's mental know it's a tough play and you know you look like an idiot if you don't make the catch.
2008-06-11 07:32:08
14.   joe in boston
All I can come up with is "everbody Wang Chung tonight "

13 - Bama, gotta post that video ! Hey would you recommend the ferry for little kids (3 and 5). Or should I just drive to a nearby parking lot and use the money from their college fund to pay for parking ? We're planning on going to a game (their first) this summer

2008-06-11 07:42:33
15.   pistolpete
9 Damn, wish I knew you were going. I was in attendance as well – 3rd base side, Loge. Was in the seats right in front of one of those blue-tarp camera station thingies...

Haven't seen the replay since, but for some reason it looked like Damon could have caught that HR ball off Mariano.

2008-06-11 07:50:14
16.   RIYank
14 Drat. I was going to say, "Everybody Wang pun tonight."

I missed the Banter last night -- I see Ken Arneson was the honored guest. Cool.

2008-06-11 08:16:36
17.   dianagramr
Given A-Rod's miscue, could we go with ...

"Wang Bang Pop-up Clang"

2008-06-11 08:55:46
18.   Bama Yankee
14 I think the ferry is fine for little kids. I saw several children in the 3 to 5 year-old range (one lady even had a baby that couldn't have been but a few months old). The ferry has two levels with most of the seating covered (even on the upper level). I would advise catching it at one of the early stops (over in Jersey) before it got too crowded. It is a long ride (maybe an hour and a half from the Hoboken stop), but I really enjoyed it more than my subway trip up to the Stadium for the tour yesterday (there was a woman on the D-train who insisted on telling her life story to the lady across from her for the whole ride...and her language would've made Chris Rock blush...she probably averaged 2.5 F-bombs per minute from 33rd to 161st. ;-)

I would say definitely take the ferry (you can't beat the scenery).

2008-06-11 09:11:50
19.   ms october
9 glad you had fun bama - it sounds like an experience you and your family can always think back fondly on.

13 i pretty much played ss all during my softball/baseball days and agree with you about the sky high popup - my feelings are probably influenced by me breaking my nose when i was like 7 because my stupid visor (which was too big for my pin-head) fell
over my eyes and i lost track of the ball

1 i made it about as far as rbj - thankfully for us eatern time people who can't stay up late houston is in the central time zone

and i agree with hoss 12 someone in the pen is going to have to step up cause mo cannot keep up this kind of pace

2008-06-11 09:15:17
20.   Bama Yankee
15 You might have been sitting right above us...we were on that side as well. Wish I'd have known, I woulda looked you up. I wondered if there were any fellow Banter-ers (or would that be Banter-ites?) at the game. We need to get those t-shirts printed up so we can spot each other.
2008-06-11 09:19:03
21.   JL25and3
18 As Lewis Black said (more or less), "I'm from New York, where 'f**k' isn't a word, it's a punctuation mark."

It seems a shame to bleep Lewis Black, but I figure you heard enough punctuation yesterday.

2008-06-11 09:24:08
22.   Shaun P
9 Bama I'm sorry the Yanks didn't get you a win, but I'm glad you had such a great time. I missed the park tour on my trip to NYC, so now I think I have to go back. =)
2008-06-11 09:45:26
23.   ms october
some info/rumor from ken rosenthal:

The Yankees are aggressively shopping right-hander LaTroy Hawkins

(almost at the end under around the horn)

2008-06-11 09:45:40
24.   williamnyy23
9 22 I am glad the trip was a success. Also, great job on going on the tour. I went over the winter and really enjoyed it. Simply getting to sit in the duugout and walk on the field is worth the price. We also went into the clubhouse and got to see the lockers of the players as they left them after the season. Doug Mientkabcxyz looked like he was packing up his life's belongings, while Mo's corner locker seemed to be a storage bin for everything from shaving equipment to trophies.
2008-06-11 09:46:14
25.   williamnyy23
23 Good luck to them.
2008-06-11 09:50:14
26.   RIYank
23 Hm, Ken Rosenthal. Can he be trusted on this kind of thing?

Also, it's kind of fun to imagine them shopping Hawkins aggressively. "TAKE HIM. Just sign, sign right there. YOU DO NOT NEED THOSE DRAFT PICKS ANYWAY. I'm serious, DO IT NOW."

2008-06-11 10:09:36
27.   Mattpat11
I'm still trying to figure out what Eveland had in common with David Wells.
2008-06-11 10:10:49
28.   Mattpat11

But Rosenthal seems to have left a name out.

2008-06-11 10:36:00
29.   Bama Yankee
21 Yeah, she was a punctuating machine... ;-)

Actually, even though I don't use that kind of language, it usually doesn't bother me that much (it's just words). The problem I had with her was that she had a huge chip on her shoulder and she didn't seem to be very stable (from her story it seemed like her family didn't even have much to do with her anymore and she had been in and out of jail). I chalked it up as part of the experience (I don't think we were ever in any danger), but my wife was more than a little uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Overall, the people we met were nice and helpful. Especially the omelet cook at the hotel who was from the Bronx and gave us some good advice on getting to the Stadium for the tour. Also, our NYC cabbie who took us from the 34th street station back to our hotel (the PATH train was closed due to a fire) was a nice guy. He had a little trouble finding our hotel, but we got a nice little tour of Jersey City in the process...

2008-06-11 10:47:26
30.   MC Safety
Two Wangs don't make a Wright.
2008-06-11 10:55:11
31.   joe in boston
18 thanks Bama - my kids are seasoned Ferry Riders (New London to Orient Point, LI)
2008-06-11 10:58:08
32.   rbj
30 More like two (Jaret) Wrights don't make a Wang.

Via Pete:
"Extra bases: The Yankees officially released infielder Morgan Ensberg, who was designated for assignment on June 2. The organization also released Triple-A infielder Ben Broussard, who hit .326 over 12 games for Scranton."

Anyone know why Broussard got released?

2008-06-11 11:26:15
33.   Rob Middletown CT
Maybe he asked for his release. Maybe they decided that they didn't need another lefty 1Bman.

It's too bad Ensberg didn't work out. It was a good idea.

2008-06-11 11:59:39
34.   Schteeve
Broussard got released for saying "Why don't you guys use that Britton dude more often?"
2008-06-11 12:19:31
35.   jnr98
"Wang got pulled too early"
"Wang Yanked Too Son"
2008-06-11 12:34:37
36.   JL25and3
30 , 32 That brings us back full circle to Wang's first start, which was in place of the (surprise!) injured Jaret Wright. this was Cliff's headline the next day:
2008-06-11 13:07:50
37.   Sliced Bread
great shit, Emma.

cool beans, Bama. Glad you had a good visit to NY.

A Wang pun that's not a dick joke? Hmmmm.

"Same Old Wang And Dance"
"The Wang Remains The Same"

2008-06-11 13:13:11
38.   Sliced Bread
sorry, can't resist:

"Wang Springs Back To Life"
"Wang Bends, Doesn't Break"
"A's Touch Wang, Then Choke"

2008-06-11 13:22:10
39.   Sliced Bread
word, Bama. Would be great to see Banter t-shirts around the Stadium, across the country, and beyond.
2008-06-11 13:53:07
40.   OldYanksFan
We really needed that win. Fortunately (drum roll): Wang came up Big!
2008-06-11 13:53:23
41.   tommyl
36 Dear lord, Tony Womack had the game winning, walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth in that game. That seems like forever ago, doesn't it?
2008-06-11 13:59:22
42.   Ace Rothstein
"Wang Bends, Doesn't Break"
"A's Touch Wang, Then Choke"

those two made me laugh out loud.

"Strong Wang escapes Athletic's strap"


"Wang feels burn, but plows on for win"

reminds me of the days of Curtis Enis

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