Monthly archives: July 2003
IT'S 4:00 PM: DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR PLAYERS ARE?
The Yankees and Reds went through with the Boone-White for Claussen-cash-and-a-player-to-be-named-later deal after all. Jay Jaffe, The Futility Infielder thinks this is a terrible mistake and is presently somewhere in Alphabet City destroying furniture. (I'm sure we'll hear more from him by tomorrow.)
"This will not stand. This aggression will not stand."
Here are the trades that I know about, thanks to Lee Sinins:
1. The Yankees traded Robin Ventura to the Dodgers for a minor league pitcher and a minor league outfielder.
2. The Pirates traded P Jeff Suppan to the Redsox for prospect Freddy
3. The O's moved Sidney Ponson to the Giants for Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss.
4. The D-Rays sold pitcher Al Levine to KC.
WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?
So I've been waiting to see the official report confirming the Boone/White deal to the Yanks and it hasn't appeared yet. I spoke with my source again, and now it is not so certain that the trade will happen at all. I apologize for jumping the gun and publishing a rumor.
But if the Yanks can't get Vlad or Giles, and they can't get Boone, who does that leave? Juan Gone?
Duck and cover. Only a couple of hours left. You have to figure Epstein is looking to put a cherry on top of his great rookie campaign.
YANKS TRADE CLAUSSEN
I just received word from a reliable source that the Yankees have agreed to send Brandon Claussen and cash to the Reds for third baseman Aaron Boone and injured relief pitcher Gabe White.
Joe Torre told The Times:
"I know Mondy was very sensitive about not playing or whenever I pinch-hit for him," Torre said. "When that happened Sunday, maybe he got to the point where he was so frustrated that he didn't think about what he was doing or he didn't care about the repercussions. He was never a volatile guy or anything like that. I keep coming back to the word frustrated.''
But Torre made it clear he was in no way condoning Mondesi's actions.
"It was not acceptable what he did," he said. "George Steinbrenner was obviously aware of what was going on, but this was our decision. I think George was rather fond of Mondy. Brian and I were the ones who pulled the trigger on this."
ET TU, LOUIE?
There was an amusing bit in the early edition of The Post which is not available on-line. George King reports that Mondesi isn't the first Yankee to shower and leave early on Torre's watch:
"I did the same thing in 1998," Luis Sojo told The Post. "I had two hits and [Torre] pinch-hit for me. I was mad. I took a shower and left before the last out. I was hot. The next day I come to the park and I know I was wrong. I was also trying to sneak around so mabye nobody would say anything to me," Sojo continued. "But soon I was told that Joe Torre wanted to see me in his office. I went in there and he was furious. He told me that it was [bleep] to do that and that he never expected that out of me, of all people. Maybe some others, but not me. He also told me he was finning me $2,000."
Sojo got the fine reduced to $1500.
"But I didn't pay it, not then and not in 1999...When I got traded back in 2000, I walked into the clubhouse and everybody was glad to see me," recalled Sojo. "It was, 'Hey, Louie, great to have you back.' Everybody was slapping me on the back. Then I went into Joe Torre's office and he was real serious. He said, 'Do you want to play?' I said, 'Sure.' He said, 'Then give me the $2,000.' It was a lot of money but I paid it."
Mess with the bull and you get the horns.
RIDING THE ROCKET
Roger Clemens pitched a complete game for the first time in three years, and the Yankees shut out the World Champs, 8-0 last night in Anahiem; he allowed five hits.. Clemens is 29-8 against the Angels during his career. I didn't stay up to watch any of it, but I sure was a happy camper riding to work this morning. Jason Giambi had two doubles, two walks, a homer (30), and three RBI (83). Hideki Matsui hit his 33rd double of the year and added 3 RBI (77) of his own. Joe Torre gave Lil' Sori the night off. Derek Jeter lead off, and Bernie batted behind him in the two-hole.
The Yankees gained a game on Boston, who fell to the Rangers, 9-2. Former Yankee, Ramiro Mendoza was pounded. The Sox dropped relief pitcher Chad Fox. Alex Rodriguez also made some news intimating that he would entertain any trade offers that come up now, or next year. Or did he?
Add John Harper to the list of baseball observers paying their respects to the efforts of Theo Epstein. With the Yankees hoping to swing a big deal this afternoon, you would have to imagine the Sox are planning a deal of their own (although given Epstein's ability to make sound, unspectacular moves, perhaps he will lay in the weeds until the waiver period kicks in).
Harper notes, "Passionate and historic as this rivalry has been since Babe Ruth changed uniforms, it's quite possible the two franchises have never been this obsessed about it."
The Sox believe they are in good shape:
"I think they really sense that the Yankees are vulnerable," was the way one GM who recently has dealt with the Sox described their mindset. "They believe they can win it all."
..."That's where the difference lies," one Sox insider said yesterday. "They're not following up on moves the Yankees make. They know what they need and they're going after certain guys. It's a different philosophy."
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
With the trading deadline looming (4:00 p.m. est this afternoon), the Yankees are in the mix for some kind of deal. Surprised? Rumors are flying, but the one that seems most likely involves Reds' third baseman, Aaron Boone, and injured reliever Gabe White. There are also big dreams of a blockbuster---Vlad, Giles---but those are most likely just dreams. One thing is for sure, Brandon Claussen will be part of any package the Bombers make. So much for the pitcher of the future.
TOAST OF THE TOWN
After making another good trade yesterday, Theo Epstein is enjoying some much deserved love from the press. Rob Neyer admires Epstein's rookie campaign in his latest column:
"I don't really buy the notion that it's only now that Theo Epstein has proved his worth. In addition to building what now looks like a pretty good bullpen, isn't Epstein also the guy who, months ago, built a roster that's leading the major leagues in runs scored?
There's really not much more that Epstein can do. Sure, the Sox could use a quality starting pitcher, as neither John Burkett nor Ramiro Mendoza inspire great confidence these days. But whatever happens from this point forward, it's been a great first year for the youngest general manager in major-league history."
STOP THE PRESS
ESPN's Peter Gammons is reporting that the A's have just traded Aaron Harang and two other players to the Reds for Jose Guillen. The sounds like good news for Oakland fans. Michael Lewis will be able to digest tonight.
The Yankees traded Dan Miceli to the Astros yesterday for a player to be named or cash.
The Yankee inner circle is meeting today in Tampa. After the Sox beat the Yanks out for another bullpen arm, you think George wants to trump them with a splashy move in the next 24 hours? How would you like to be Brian Cashman today? Sweat much? The names Brian Giles and Vladi G are being thrown around in the press. It's hard to imagine that the good people at MLB are going to let George swipe Vlad, and the Pirates have been looking to unload Jason Kendell with Giles.
Still, stranger things have happened. Put George in a corner and he's likely to come out spending.
I almost forgot to mention, thirteen years ago today Fay Vincent suspended George Steinbrenner from baseball. George actually received a 'lifetime ban,' which curiously only last until 1993. Anyhow, the date is important, because Stick Michael began building the Yankee dynasty during George's absence.
The Baseball Crank has a good piece today about how the current Red Sox offense ranks against some of the great offenses in history. (Good news for Sox Nation, sobering news for Yankee fans.)Aaron Gleeman has an equally impressive post about the newly designed Red Sox bullpen. (More kudos for Theo.)
Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus has nothing but raves for Mr. Epstein:
"The question I've been getting peppered this week on the radio is, 'Who's going to win the AL East?' I've been circumspect up until now, pointing out that the two teams are pretty evenly matched, and that it should be a good race, with the Sox coming out on top. With the addition of Williamson, however, I believe the Sox have moved well ahead of the Yankees. They're the clear favorite.
If the Red Sox do make the playoffs, they're going to be downright scary, with Pedro Martinez starting every fourth game and Kim and Williamson available for multiple-inning outings in the ones he doesn't. Combined with an offense that won't quit, and it might just take extraordinary happenings--a curse, perhaps--to keep this team from winning it all."
To round things out, Rob Neyer has an angry response to those readers who think he lets his emotions and bias' dictate his writing. I can't remember Neyer ever being so irked before. Granted, I'm only familiar with the work he's done over the past year and a half, but in his most recent column, Neyer's in no mood to play. Frankly, I don't blame him for losing his patience with some of his readers, but this is the first time I've seen him lose his cool, and his sense of humor. Nothing like a Yankee vs. Red Sox piece to drive him--and apparently his readers---over the edge.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
''The first thing I did was look up and see if the full moon was out yet,'' Little said.
This reminded me of another famous bunting episode. Of the Yankee variety. Involving none other than Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. And Boss George Steinbrenner. This was in July of 1978 when Reggie-Billy-George-(Thurman) was in Year Two of the rollercoaster ride.
George had been all over Billy as the Yankees underachieved through the first half. By mid season, between George and Reggie and the booze, Martin was at wits end. Ed Linn put it nicely:
"Has any man ever been as obsessed with a woman as Billy martin was obsessed with remaining the manager of the New York Yankees? His features were drained and haggard. He wore a look of utter exhaustion. He had stopped eating. He had not stopped drinking."
After the All Star break, Boss George took the team over. Munson went out to right, and Reggie became the full-time dh. Recently acquired Gary Thomasson would play left; Mike Heath would catch. Martin, beaten, just went along with it. Reggie Jackson was not pleased.
Martin had a hard-on for Jackson and played with his star by refusing to hit him in the clean up spot. It was an ego-driven tug-of-war that had been going on for a year and a half by then. Jackson was a shell of his former self in the field, but he could still hit.
On July 17th, the Yankees were at home playing the Royals. They lost the first game of the series the night before (and three of the previous four), against Larry Gura, the former Yankee. Reggie had not played against the lefty. Before the game that day Reggie met with George for 90 minutes. He asked to be traded. (He was not.)
Turns out Reggie started that night, and batted clean-up. (Thank you, George.) The rub is that Paul Splittorff, a lefty, was pitching. Martin wouldn’t trust Reggie to hit Splitorff if his pants were on fire.
Cut to the chase: The game is tied at 5 in the ninth inning. Munson leads off. Reggie tells him he’ll bunt him over if he reaches first. Thurman tells him not to get ahead of himself.
Now Reggie had only been asked to bunt once before in his Yankee career. It was in late 1977 during the stretch run against Boston. Reggie made two spectacular defensive plays in the game. He was asked to bunt late in the contest and he fouled off a few attempts. Eventually, he worked the count full and then hit a moon shot to end the game. Perfect call.
So naturally, Munson singled up the middle to start the inning against KC. Reggie is already thinking bunt, and so is Billy. Al Hrabosky, another southpaw, was pitching. The first pitch wass up and in for a ball. Brett moved in at third and Martin took the bunt sign off. But Reggie tried to bunt the next pitch anyhow. He missed badly.
Dick Howser, the third base coach calls time and comes down and tells Reggie that Billy wants him swinging away.
According to Ed Linn:
Reggie says, “I’m gonna bunt.”
“Yeah, but Billy wants you to hit.”
“I want to bunt.”
Reggie tried to bunt the next pitch again. Awful. 1-2. Now Martin is furious. Reggie bunts the next pitch foul. The catcher makes the catch, but it doesn’t matter. Strike three, yer out. It was the first out of the inning. Reggie came back to the bench, removed his glasses, and waited for the fight that didn’t come. At the end of the inning, Gene Michael, then a bench coach, told Reggie his night was over.
The Royals scored four runs in the 10th. The Yanks came back with two of their own, and with two on, Cliff Johnson, hitting for Reggie, flied out to end the game.
Martin stormed into his office and immediately smashed a clock. This wasn’t any player who disrepected him: this was Jackson.
Ed Linn reported:
“I have never been angrier in my life,” Martin said in a loud, strident voice. “I’m the manager, and if he comes back, he does exactly what I say. Period. I’m not making $3 million. I don’t disobey my boss’s order. Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”
Reggie’s reply? “I can’t win. No matter what I do, I come off as the big, greedy money-maker and he’s the tough little street fighter.”
Jackson was suspended for five days (one being an off-day). Billy got worse. But the Yankees won five straight without Jackson, and the Red Sox lead was down to ten games. The night before Jackson came back, Martin was drinking with Bill Veeck after the game. Veeck got around to telling Martin how George had called him several weeks earlier about trading managers---Billy for Bob Lemon. Martin, popping pills by this point, kept drinking.
When the Yankees flight to Kansas City was delayed that night, Martin stumbled over to beatwriters, Jack Lang and Murray Chass and talked on the record. Reggie and George were eating him alive. “The two of them deserve each other,” Martin said. “One is a born liar and the other’s convicted.”
And that is what got Bill Martin fired for the first time.
Fortunately for Nomar, such drama is light years away. Even in Boston.
Andy Pettitte won again for the Yankees last night, improving his record to 13-7. The Bombers scored four runs with two out in the first inning, Pettitte went eight, and the Yanks beat the World Champs, 6-2 in Anahiem. Jeter continued his hot hitting and is now batting .325. Godzilla Matsui had three hits including a double and a homer.
The Red Sox went into the seventh inning trailing Texas 4-2, and then broke out the whooping stick, and went on to win 14-7 . They remain just a game-and-a-half behind New York. Bill Mueller hit two grand slams; one from each side of the plate. Onions.
I heard from several Red Sox fans yesterday who couldn't have been happier with George Steinbrenner's need to remind the Nation that they haven't won anything yet. Tell them something they don't know. Fair enough. George will always provide cheap fodder for Yankee-haters (he just can't help himself), but now it appears he is not alone in the drama department.
Red Sox owner, John Henry joined the tea party with a bit of self-righteous hyperbole of his own. On Tuesday, Henry told the Hartford Courant:
"In that one inning and in that final out," Henry said, "it was as if Jason and Johnny and David and Nomar and Manny - 25 men, a manager and his coaches - were collectively throwing off the shackles of decades of frustration and proclaiming, `It's a new century, damn it. It's 2003 and we don't believe in ghosts.'"
You have to appreciate Henry's optimism, but if this is how he feels in July, he's apt to be downright Biblical come fall.
The Yankees traded Raul Mondesi to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night for utility outfielder David Dellucci, right-handed reliever Bret Prinz, and a minor league catcher, Jon Sprowl. Who? The Yankees lose Mondesi, an undisciplined hitter, and the Yankees' only defensive threat in the outfield. Evidentally, this is Joe Torre's call.
After being pinch-hit for in the eighth inning on Sunday in Boston, Mondesi showered and left the park before the game was over. This is a huge no-no in Torre's Yankeeland. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, as Mondesi began complaining about playing time a few weeks ago in Cleveland.
"The Yankees and Mondesi are not going in the same direction," [GM, Brian] Cashman said, "so I decided to get more aggressive with some of the interest we had for him.
"He's a player that plays hard, but I don't know if he was ultimately on the same page with us."
Joe Torre added: "It's not acceptable what he did. George was obviously aware of it. I think he was fond of Mondy. Brian and I pulled the trigger on this one."
Karim Garcia and Ruben Ruben will now play right field. The Yankees lose a head case in Mondesi who was not a good fit on Torre's team, but again, they also lose their only defensive threat in the outfield. Does this mean Cashman has another move up his sleeve? We've got a little more than 24 hours to find out.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox picked up Reds' reliever Scott Williamson for a single A prospect, cash and a player to be named later. Score another victory for Boston who continues to rebuild their bullpen. The Yanks were in the hunt for Williamson too, but according to Cashman, the Reds wanted Brandon Claussen. What Cincy got from the Sox appears to be a whole lot less than Claussen. Maybe teams simply don't want to deal with the Bombers. Conspiracy theorists start your engines.
Either way, after a 'rough' start last winter, Theo Epstein is doing just fine for himself, don't you think?
Ben Jacobs' Universal Baseball Blog, Inc. is one of the most complete and thorough blogs running. Ben is a die-hard Red Sox fan---and he is downright giddy after hearing Steinbrenner issue a 'warning' to Red Sox Nation yesterday---but he doesn't just cover the Sox. Jacobs writes with clarity and conviction, and he covers a myriad of baseball topics. His site should be on your short list of daily stops. And that's the scoop, Cecil Coop.
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES
Buster Olney has a nice article on how to win friends and influence trades over at ESPN. Will the success of "Moneyball" effect Billy Beane's ability to make a big move this year? We've only got a couple of more days to find out.
POOR LITTLE RICH TEAM
The Yankees had Monday off as they flew out west to start a three-game series against the World Champs. That gave them a day to stew in the juices of two difficult weekend losses in Boston. Maybe the team isn't stewing at all, but that didn't prevent Boss George from issuing a brief statement. "This will not stand, man. This aggression will not stand," a stoned Dude once said. The New York Times has an article today about the Yankees' troublesome bullpen, while Joel Sherman assigns some blame to the Bombers offense, who have been lousy in clutch situations.
Meanwhile, Rob Neyer has a piece comparing Yankee Stadium with Fenway Park. As much as I want to disagree with him, Neyer makes some good points, especially about how loud, and noisy Yankee Stadium is. Almost every time I'm there, I wish they could turn down the volume on the nonsense, and replace it with a simple organist. (For what it's worth, Neyer does think the Yanks are better than the Sox.)
If you haven't been to Larry Mahnken's Replacement Level Yankees Weblog yet, you are missing out. Mahnken delivers the goods; he has made so many sharp observations during the past week, I don't know where to start (OK, today's post is about "The Curse of Jeff Nelson"). Do yourself a favor and make his page a part of your daily Yankee fix. You won't be sorry.
BRONX BANTER INTERVIEW: MICHAEL LEWIS
BRONX BANTER INTERVIEW: MICHAEL LEWIS
STRAIGHT, NO CHASER
The author of "Moneyball" was in Boston to throw out the first pitch last Friday night. (David Halberstam, eat your heart out.) A week earlier, Lewis was in New York, putting the finishing touches on the press tour for his latest best-seller. He took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with Bronx Banter. Here is our conversation:
Bronx Banter: Have you sold the movie rights to "Moneyball" yet?
Michael Lewis: I didn't have much hope that anyone would buy them. Because I can't really see how you could make it into a movie---a good movie, anyway. What happens is, if somebody bought it for the movies, you'd have to create some sort of female role. They would just have to. You just have to twist so much. Having seen "Liar's Poker" get bought for a lot of money, and then completely mangled in the creation of the script, and eventually never getting made. If they can't make that, I can't imagine how they can make this. There have been, oddly enough, some feelers from people who say they want to buy the rights. A lot of things sell, that shouldn't sell, accidentally. That might happen, but I'd be really surprised if it ever became a movie.
BB: It's tough too, because baseball movies are notoriously bad.
ML: Yeah, that's right.
BB: The Billy Beane characterization is the dramatic structure for a movie treatment. It might have to be a very male movie, but so be it. It could be a classic, and I think I got the feel for it when I read the book.
ML: The hope for it as a movie would be having very few baseball scenes. And lots of scenes of Billy in his office.
BB: The greatest sin of baseball moviemaking is that the sport has never properly been captured on the screen. Football was lucky; NFL Films was the best thing that ever happened to that sport. Most action shots in baseball movies are static, shot in super slow mo. You get close-ups and super close-ups. It's terrible. You never feel the vast amount of space and isolation that exists on a baseball field. It doesn't seem like it would take a real genius to figure this out, but there it is. As a visceral subject¡ªwhich are what movies are all about---baseball is still an unpolished pearl. But imagine the comedy you can find in Ron Washington going through infield drills with the butchers they send through. The scout stuff is a cinch for great machismo movie melodrama.
ML: That scene would work as a movie. I agree. And it would work having these misshapen oddities that show up. Ron Washington would be a wonderful movie character: a guy who is hired to be the third base and infield coach of a team that won't waste money on foot speed or fielding skills. This beleaguered, veteran guy. I can see that, but what I can't see is the narrative thread. I don't know exactly how you'd do that.
BB: It's about a personality tour de force, surrounded by a very strong supporting cast of characters. It's about Beane being one kind of player as a kid, and eventually becoming a man as a general manager who is obsessed with signing players who are his exact opposite.
ML: There you go. But how would you end it? Maybe you wouldn't have to. I used the 2002 A's season as a very loose narrative frame. Which was, from the point of view of making a movie, unremarkable.
BB: Yeah, you'd have to make the anti-baseball movie, baseball movie.
ML: You would have to do that. I'd say the only good baseball movie I have ever seen is "Bull Durham."
BB: I got another one for you, and I actually think it's the only other really good one. "The Bad News Bears."
ML: Oh, there you go. That is a good baseball movie. "The Natural" was horrible.
BB: You want to think movies like "Band the Drum Slowly," and "Bingo Long¡¦" is better than they really are, but they're lousy. Even "Eight Men Out," which had a lot of good things going for it, wasn't really a good movie.
ML: Yeah, it was ok. So I don't have any plans to make "Moneyball" into a movie. If somebody wants to call and give me money, I'll take it. That's sort of how I feel about it.
BB: You've been promoting your book "Moneyball" for the past few months. Has the publicity tour been different from your previous experiences promoting your work?
ML: Ah, no. There have been very slight differences; it's disturbingly the same. If the publisher had been a little more innovative, I would maybe follow the A's around, and just go to the ballparks, and talk to the reporters at the ballpark. But we didn't do that. We did a very conventional promotional tour, and it was maybe a couple of extra cities. Even then, I think I've had tours that were even bigger than this one [has been]. So no. It's fifteen, sixteen, seventeen cities. The tour itself last about four weeks. And then I stopped. Now, I'm coming to do a couple of more things this week, and then I'm completely done. I promised them I'd come back to New York for a couple of days, so I'm here now, doing that. But that's normal for a book tour. I mean book tours are like¡¦running for president. You land, there's a handler. You're taken to three or four radio shows, a TV show or two; you give a talk at night, maybe one in the middle of the day. And then you go to bed and you do the same thing the next day, somewhere else. That has been no different from the other books. But the only difference is that I'm doing sports media [now]. And I've never done that before. Every city seems to have six radio shows that do nothing but gab about sports. And that was a new experience for me.
BB: Who was the target audience for the book?
ML: There wasn't one. We didn't sit around and say, ¡®Who's going to buy this?' Actually, I'm the wrong person to ask. It's possible my publisher did. But I didn't think about it. I can tell you who has bought it. Broadly. There is a whole---as you must know---subculture of baseball---
ML: --Nuts. They bought it. There is the whole world of Wall Street. The people who read "Liar's Poker." They bought it in a big way. I don't know how many copies we've sold to people who work in baseball, basketball, football, but we do seem to have sold quite a few. To people who are actually in the sports business. Agents, scouts, people in the organizations. So that's an audience. But a lot of business people seem to be reading it.
BB: One of the things I liked about it is that you made very definite narrative choices. It seemed broader than an insider baseball book. It wasn't just written for the baseball nut, it has a wider appeal.
ML: That's because I'm not a baseball nut. So I wouldn't be interested in it if it was just a baseball nut subject, that's right. I just thought it was a great story. I'll tell you who is not reading it: women. My sense is that 95 out of every hundred readers are male. There have been very few responses from women; lots and lots of responses from guys. I was in Chicago yesterday and I had dinner with an economist named Richard Thaler, do you know who he is? He essentially invented the field of behavioral economics. Those economists start with the assumption that people aren't rational. As opposed to are. He's at the Business School of Chicago. And he found himself in an argument about the book with one of the economists who believe that people are rational. He said it was being heavily read there. So academics. Maybe academics are reading it, to.
BB: What interested me are the dramatic choices you made in the book. You kept the focus, sharp and exact, with no fat. You know, for many baseball nuts, the book could have been 200 pages longer, and they would have been perfectly happy.
ML: And you know how many people would have been unhappy? Including me.
BB: I think it's funny that the criticism against the book was aimed at Beane, when it's not just a book about Billy Beane.
ML: It's still going on. You see the Joe Morgan columns?
BB: He's such a dope as an analyst. There are guys who make a regular habit of busting his chops in the baseball blogging world.
ML: But I have the impression that he thinks of himself as a great success as an analyst. He seems to be oblivious to the kind of criticism that you hear from any thoughtful person who has listened to him. But he wrote a couple of columns where he said Billy Beane shouldn't have written this book. That kind of stuff. But there has been a lot of that kind of stuff, I agree. There have been also a lot of people who have been hostile to a section of the book and after, admitted that they hadn't read it. They are hostile to the idea of it, and I can understand that.
BB: Most of what people criticized about the book was the portrait of Beane as a big, egomaniacal schmuck. But I always got the impression that Beane is a shrewd guy who is smart enough to surround himself with very talented people.
ML: I agree with that. I think what happened was, people mistook the reaction to the book. People in baseball thought he was arrogant because he had a book written about himself. That is where the charge of arrogance is coming from, and it's bizarre. All of it---whether they think he wrote it or not¡ªis prefaced on the idea that he somehow orchestrated this thing. Which could not be further from the truth. This thing happened in spite of him not because of him.
BB: Is it just jealousy?
ML: That would surprise me. I would think it's more that. This is a very sensitive environment, because a lot of guys sense they don't know exactly what they are doing. A lot of people are aware that there is this organization [the A's] that has been doing a lot more with less money than their organization. How bad does that look? Is there a good reason why they are doing better for less money? It's not just luck. It can't just be swept away with a wave of a hand. All of a sudden, it's very damning and very threatening. This explains the hostility of GMs. The hostility of the scouts is obvious enough. They need to channel that into something, but instead of picking an argument with the book¡ªwhich would be very dangerous¡ªand me, who can answer back in print and have a lot of fun doing it. If they can make it seem like this is some arrogant asshole GMs doing; I think it is their attempt to mute the message of the book. It may not be so conscious as that, but I think that's where it's coming from. They are trying to mute the message of the book.
BB: Have you read any of the write-ups on your book in the blogging world?
ML: I don't go on and read---I know there have been long threads on the various websites about the book, but I haven't gone on and read any of that.
BB: For a lot of the super stat nerds, this book is like the Torah. It's had a real impact.
ML: It's funny. I could understand as I was writing it, that would be somewhat unsatisfying to a hardcore stats nerd because all he wants in the statistical secrets of the Oakland A's, and he wants them in a cold-blooded fashion. He doesn't want a story. The truth is, I wasn't ever going to get all of the secrets. I got some of the secrets, probably the most important ones, but there is still stuff I didn't get. The other thing the stats geek wants me to do is dismantle whatever fallacies they might have. And I had no interest in doing that. I just wanted to give the reader a view of what they were doing. I didn't want to say, ¡®It makes no sense that on base percentage is three times better than slugging percentage¡¦' I didn't have any particular interest in sifting through the minutia of the A's statistical arguments. I thought the big point, is that they are even making them. If they are wrong, and it's really only two-and-a-half times slugging, then who really gives a shit? I mean I give a shit sort of, but not really. The point is, the A's are thinking rationally and analytically about it. We can argue about the finer details, but I didn't care to do that. I knew when I was writing it that there would be a feeling with the hardcore baseball fan that they were being lead to the alter. It would miss the point too heavily to focus on just those arguments. These are people that basically embrace the same worldview, and they are arguing amongst themselves, in a language they can understand.
BB: There was an article on Bill James in The New Yorker a few weeks ago and James said one of the frustrating parts of working for the Sox is that he's discovering all this new knowledge and he can't share it with his public. When did you first read Bill James?
ML: Not until I saw his books on Billy Beane's bookshelf. I had never even heard of him. There was a long row of the old Abstracts in his office, and I said, ¡®What's that?' I took them away. I actually took them away, and I kept them for about six months.
BB: Who were some of the characters that didn't make it into the book, or got cut down drastically? I would have loved to had more of Sandy Alderson.
ML: That's not a bad example; I could have gone farther into him. Well, Tim Hudson ended up on the cutting room floor. For a very specific reason. Zito got left on the cutting room floor too, but I was less interested in Zito than Hudson. And they were both very available. I could have really gone places with them as characters, but I decided very early on¡ªor more like in the middle of [writing] it--- that I wanted the reader to encounter players that the reader didn't know were valuable. I wanted the reader to have the experience of undervaluing. While it is true both Zito, and especially Hudson, had been very badly undervalued in their youth, they are now such established stars that you don't get that experience with them. If Sports Illustrated came to me and said, ¡®Okay, let's look at the outtakes and see if we can make a couple of magazine pieces out of this. What would you like to do?' First I would say, let me do a profile of Ron Washington. He's just so funny. Without meaning to be funny. He's one of the funniest people I have ever run across. And he's in such a funny predicament. I would put Ron Washington on the cover of Sports Illustrated. "The Unluckiest Coach in Baseball." Hudson would be the second one. I did quite a bit of reporting outside the A's organization with other ball clubs, and that all ended up on the cutting room floor. I spent quite a bit of time with the Toronto Blue Jays, some time with the Red Sox, some time down with the Rangers. As discreet pieces of writing, I would have loved to write about Tom Hicks. I would have loved to write about J.P. Riccardi, and what he was doing in Toronto, and I would have loved to write about John Henry. I had a whole chapter that I wrote about the Blue Jays, and I just dropped it. It just didn't work in the story, so I dropped it and left it all behind.
BB: The story is the thing. What I like about the book is the choices that you make are confident and assertive.
ML: There are some ruthless decisions that have to be made. It's more than the story is the thing. The story has got a point to it, and the story and the point rub along together and you don't want to distract from it. I had this other body of material that is entertaining, that's colorful, that works on its own, but the thing had a momentum to it, and I felt that every time we left the Oakland A's the story lost some of that momentum. And I didn't think I could add anything to the point I was trying to make. It wasn't so frustrating because I was wed to the story I was telling. I was very happy with that. But there were times where I was like, ¡®Shit, I'm sorry I've got to lose this, but I've got to lose it.'
BB: The A's are all about finding efficiencies and you have to find efficiencies in writing as well.
ML: You do, you really do. I think there is a power to narrative, in that you have an almost economic relationship with the reader, in that they pick up a book, and it's a story. And in the first 50 pages, they become invested in the story. They become partners in the story, in a funny way. If they feel confident in your ability to manage the story, they'll go all sorts of places with you that they wouldn't otherwise go. But if you abuse that trust, you are in real trouble. So I always feel that decisions have to be made in the interest of the story. They are sometimes ruthless decisions but it's all in the interest of being able to take the reader someplace that he can't believe he'd go. I've had a lot of people tell me, ¡®I can't believe I read all this shit about statistics and Bill James.' Then, to get them to read about Scott Hatteberg and Chad Bradford.
BB: I love how chatty Scott Hatteberg is, and how conversational first base is as a position. It got me to thinking that all first basemen must be some of the best talkers in baseball.
ML: If they are not, they are wasting an opportunity. He actually is made to be on first base. He is unlike a professional baseball player in his conversational abilities. He is a delight to talk to
BB: Did you find that the players ranged from gregarious to mute?
ML: Some of them were almost monosyllabic. I would hate to have to write about Eric Chavez. Miguel Tejada would be a delightful subject if you spoke Spanish. Some of them were easy to draw out. Corey Lidle: very easy to draw out, very easy to talk to. Hudson. I could develop a relationship, a conversational relationship with them. Then there are some of them like Chavez¡¦
BB: He looks burnt to me.
ML He's just so insecure. This horrible combination of cocky and insecure. He's cocky because it's a front. I always felt kind of embarrassed for him, talking to him. He didn't know what to think about anything actually. He would cover up by being rude and gruff. I just didn't have time for it. Mulder. Mulder is vacant. There is nothing there. He's like a beautiful woman who has never had to think. I would hate to have to write about Mulder in a way that required me to actually tease quotes out of him. Or anything from him. I talked to all of these people, and some of them were better than others, but there were plenty of them that were good.
BB: Hudson just looks like he's got personality. He's so poised.
ML: He's the leader of the team. There is no question. I'll tell you a story. When they lost to the Twins in the playoffs last year, the next morning there was supposed to be media availability from 9-11 in the clubhouse. All of the players came, got all of their crap, and left by 8:30 in the morning. The place was vacant when the press showed up to ask questions. The only one there was Tim Hudson. And Scott Hatteberg. But Scott Hatteburg had had a great series. But Tim Hudson, who essentially fucked up the whole thing, sat there and answered everyone's questions. That's the kind of leader Hudson is.
BB: Why didn't Billy Beane take the Boston job?
ML: In the book I don't explain why he didn't go; I explain why he even entertained it in the first place. He wanted the validation. Why he didn't go? I think his daughter had a lot to do with it. I think that he almost breaks out in hives when he's in an east coast city. I mean, he doesn't own a suit. Being in a more corporate, conservative, or business-like environment makes him uncomfortable. I think that the Red Sox job is actually a really shitty job right now. Because you've got this organization that looks to the fans and the media like, ¡®Oh, we could win a World Series this year,' but in fact, the minor league system's bankrupt. Four of your stars' contracts are coming up after next season. To do it right, what they need to do is rebuild. Not to max out right away at the major league level, but actually take a longer view. And that is such a bad environment to try and take a longer view because everybody wants it now.
BB: It's like trying to rebuild in New York.
ML: Boston is insane though. They haven't won it since 1918, you'd think they could put up with someone who came in and had a plan. But they can't. So I think Beane saw that. In addition I think he understands that the opportunity cost of making a decision is that he would have been locked up for five years in Boston, and who knows what's going to come down the pike. Whereas I think he feels he can walk out of his contract in Oakland any day if something comes up.
BB: Do you think Beane is going to run into difficulties when Paul DePodesta eventually leaves Oakland and takes a GM job himself?
ML: Yes. Yes, I do. I think Paul is extremely valuable. Having said that, I think Paul might have some trouble adjusting to a job of his own. I think they are more valuable---I think they know this too---much more valuable together than they are apart.
BB: Do you like baseball more after writing the book?
ML: I get too invested in how the book is doing right when it comes out. Then I'll just forget about it. In three months I'll have forgotten about it. But right now¡¦every week the publisher calls and tells me where it is on the best-seller list and how many copies are selling and all that stuff. It's impossible for me not to get engaged. So, it's ruining the baseball season for me because every game becomes, ¡®How does it affect "Moneyball"?' If the A's lose, it ruins my night. If the Mariners win, it ruins my night.
BB: Now you sound like a real baseball fan.
ML: Almost any game can arguably have some effect on how "Moneyball" is perceived. When the Blue Jays lose, I get upset. And when the Red Sox lose to the Yankees, I get upset. So I'm actually, not enjoying it right now. But I will go back to enjoying it next year.
BB: There is still a lot of time left this season for things to turn your way. Will you write an additional chapter for the paperback edition?
ML: I think there's a chance that I'm going to write a response to the critics. It wouldn't be exactly that. It would be a piece making observations about the reaction. It would include a discussion about sports writing and the state of sports writing. Baseball writing. It's curious the way baseball writers are. It's curious to me that Joe Morgan can write pieces saying that Billy Beane wrote the book, and nobody says anything. It's just weird. In a way, the response to the book has explained why all these inefficiencies existed in the first place. I might do that, if I have the energy. But my inclination is to move on. The pleasure of the book is largely in doing it. It's done. And now, I'm going to write a sequel to the book. Which is going to take me six years to do, and the sequel is going to be about what happens to the kids they drafted. I am following them through the minor leagues. Traveling on the buses with them and all that other stuff.
BB: So you are sticking to baseball for now?
ML: Well, that won't be published for six or seven years. I really want to see what happens to them. I'll do other things in between, but I am going to do another baseball book.
DOH! Jeff Weaver continued to
Jeff Weaver continued to pitch well through the middle innings, and I turned the game off after the sixth with the Yanks ahead, 3-0. I had been debating whether I was going to watch the game all weekend. But with Weaver enjoying a good outing, I thought I'd quit while I was ahead. Turned out to be a good thing, sort of...Naturally, I couldn't leave well enough alone, so instead of waiting until the morning to discover the results, I had to check the score 45 minutes later. I didn't know if my eyes were working when I saw that the Sox now led 6-3. But sure enough, there it was.
I turned the TV off, and went to sleep. I didn't even want to know what had happened. I was so tired, I didn't even let it keep me up.
Turns out Chris Hammond came on for Weaver in the seventh, with one out and two men on. He promptly served up a game-tying homer to Jason Varitek and then a solo blast to Johnny Damon. Orosco and Benitez coughed up a couple of more runs and the Sox won the game and the series. The Yanks now lead the season series, 7-6.
It turned out to be a tough weekend for the Bombers. They lost two games they should have won, games they have traditionally pulled out. They were awful with men in scoring position last night, and squandered many opportunities. But the Sox are grinders, and were impressive after losing on Friday night. With six head-to-head match ups left, there is still more drama to be had.
I recieved an e-mail from a reader detailing just how many close games these two teams have played recently:
I was also thinking last night about the magnitude of 1 run games in the
"Going into Saturday, the Red Sox and Yankees had played 22 games that
So that's 23 1 run games in less than 3 years. That's astounding. And
Keep up the good work...
I heard a lot of Yankee fans complaining about Pedro's tantrum on Friday, when he showed-up Dana Demuth. Hey, just be happy the Bombers beat the guy. Think how upsetting it would be if he pulled that nonsense and then won the game.
I thought last night could very well be Jeff Weaver's last start for the Yanks. He pitched well though, and perhaps Cashman can hang onto him after all.
The Yanks head to California to play three against the World Champs and then three against Oakland over the weekend. They return to New York next week to play Texas and then Seattle. Meanwhile, the Sox go to Texas and then Baltimore this week. Next week, they host the Angels and the Orioles.
This is Boston's chance to make a run because from August 11th through August 25th, the Sox only play the A's and the M's (followed by the Jays, Yanks, White Sox, and Yanks). Let's see if they can bump the Bombers out of first. Even if they don't, the Sox don't look to be going anywhere.
Johnny Damon, who had a big hit on Sunday, told the Times, "We feel we're a better team than the Yankees; but they don't lose games they're supposed to win. They're definitely the Road Runners; they have 26 championships. We're trying to catch them."
AND NOW A WORD FROM
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSERS
Jeter got a cheapo hit and Matsui later drove him in with an RBI single in the third. Yanks up 2-0. But Derek Lowe was wild and soon the bases were loaded, with 2 out. Nick Johnson looked at a ball before the ESPN signal went dead. After 15 seconds of black they cut to the Sunday Night Baseball banner, and cued the music. Then cut to commercial. Why didn't they run a radio feed? What gives here people?! We got an at bat in progress.
By the time I get the radio on Weaver has just retired the first batter of the third inning. Todd Walker followed with a clean single to right. The crowd stirred. Nomar comes to the plate and the ESPN is back, with the Spanish commentators. I couldn't have don't it better myself. And now the radio commentators.
Count goes full to Nomie and with Walker running, he fouls the ball off. Weaver throws over to first. Then Garciaparra grounds out to third with Walker running. Man on second, two out.
Manny: Curve, low and outside. Manny lays off, ball one. The crowd is a bit livelier tonight. Ball, low and inside, 2-0. Breaking ball, and Manny misses it; he lofts a fly ball to Godzilla to end the inning.
I still don't know what happened to Nick Johnson. The Yanks didn't score a run, so it couldn't have been too good. What's the matter with ESPN? Don't they have the sense to give us an update?
Lowe gives up a hit but gets a double play in the fourth. You can hear the "Yankees suck" chants tonight. This is a different crowd than Friday.
SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE FENS...
SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE FENS...
Jeff Weaver looks sharp through the second inning in Boston. In the first, Weaver struck out Johnny Damon on three pitches (all looking), and after retiring Todd Walker, beaned Nomar with a fastball in on the hands. Apparently Garciaparra has owned Weaver. Manny walked, although Weaver made a couple of good pitches; he lost on him on a 3-2 count. Then walked another to load the bases. But Weaver didn't implode, and his stuff looked good. Fastball in on the hands, then moving away with sharp movement. He got a fly ball to get out of the inning.
Giambi hit a bomb in the top of the first. Way out over the green monster. His first hit of the series. Good a time as any. Derek Lowe faced Matsui to start the second and he brushed him back with the first pitch. The next one went behind him. But Lowe didn't get tossed. Instead, the ump issued a warning to both teams.
Weaver had a one-two-three second.
GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY
GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT
The Yankees and the Sox rivalry is great because there is so much history, and so much emotion to invest if you happen to be a fan of either team (although I do know some Yankee fans who sincerely don't have any special feeling for or against the Sox; I don't know any Sox fans who don't hate the Yankees). It's the ultimate story of the Have's vs. the Have Not's. Every game adds to the story.
Since the mid to late 90s (the Mo Vaughn era), the Sox have been competitive with the Yanks. Of course, they have come up short every year, but it's not for lack of trying. They haven't finished fourth. They've finished second. They have pushed and run with the Yankees, but they haven't pushed them over yet.
What is different now is that you don't sense any personal feelings of antagonism between the pplayers. Manny, Sori, Pedro, Bernie¡¦these guys all know each other. With the exception of Clemens, and maybe Boomer, I don't think there is any bad blood between these guys personally.
A good friend of mine was recently lamenting the lack of juice in the rivalry, because he thought that these Red Sox aren't as good as the Boston teams of the late mid to late 70s, I don't know. I think what he missed was the feeling of personalized competitiveness that used to exist between the players; everything is so darn amiable in the current game. You don't get that same edge. Everything is so exposed, and manicured these days, he was saying, and as a result, dull. Boring.
He has a point. You don't have Fisk vs. Munson anymore (unless you count Pedro vs. George), but what you do have is terrifically competitive ball. With lots of humorous and compelling personalities. Just not as man Red Asses. Most of the guys today are pusscats. A good Red Ass is hard to find. Sure, it might be funnier if they didn't like each other, but that's just the way it is these days. Why fight it?
The truth is I don't know how many one-run games the Yankees and Sox have played in over the last six years, but I can guess it'd be a lot. They are usually tense from the first pitch, and they play a back and forth emotional slugfest throughout. You rarely feel cheated. Even an ass beating either way can be absorbing, but it depends on how into S&M you are.
Even though the Yankees always come out in front, Boston fans do have a collection of nice memories to go along with the loses over the past six, seven years. The Hillenbrand dinger against Mo early last year comes to mind first, and there are others.
You can add another photo to the album tonight. The Yankees came back from four runs down to tie the score at four. Ruben Ruben had a 2 RBI pinch-hit single in the 7th. Karim Garcia later drove Nicky Johnson home to tie the game.
Mussina pitched into the eighth and then old man Jesse strug wack-ass Gabe Kapler out on a check swing to end the inning. Boo boo Benitez blew the game in the ninth---David Ortiz hit the game winner off the green monster in left. Well, what did you expect? There is no shame in that. Let him get it out of his system. No seriously, what did you expect? The guy is going to give up runs, blow some situations. Fine. Bring him back tomorrow in the same situation and expect that he'll get it done. That's the only way to play it. What are you going to do? You play with the guys you have, right?
I was at work this afternoon, and I followed the game on and off through the fifth. When I left, I trooped up Broadway, from 50th street to 86th street. It's my old man's birthday tomorrow and I needed to get him a gift, so I hit Barnes and Noble. I already burned the old man a cd mix of comedy bits from Lenny Bruce and Nichols and May, which he'll love, because it's hilarious. I was looking through the baseball books when I realized I had an extra copy of the Sandy Koufax biography at my house, just waiting to be given as a gift. Bingo.
I willfully avoided the game. The 7th or 8th inning took place during my walk to the subway; I saw the Sierra hit on the computer at work. I had a Walkman with me, but I listened to an old mix tape instead.
Now the 1 and 9 local IRT trains have an issue this weekend. "A definite type of situation," as Broadway Danny Rose would say. Between 168th street and Dykman (200th street), the train will not be running. All customers must transfer at 168th street to a shuttle bus, running up to Dykman and back. Then you get back on the train and continue your journey.
It's a pain in the ass. It doesn't happen often, because the 1 and 9 line is the Broadway local, which is well kept by the MTA. It is local train so is stops often, but it's a very reliable train. If you live uptown, you have to deal with more of a headache or two, but then again, welcome to reality, man. It maybe happens twice a year, sometimes more. Weekends only.
What's amusing about the whole deal is getting off the train and getting on a bus with everybody. It's like a field trip with all the people in your neighborhood. I live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. But you also get your Irish, your Jewish, your Asian, yer Middle Eastern, a little Slavic. Mostly Spanish and Irish. I live in the land where Manny and Pedro are kings. The Red Sox hats rival the Yankee hats no problem. (They used to rock Tribe caps.)
Manhattan is very hilly between Dykman, through the heart of Washington Heights, to Columbia Pres on 168. It's the highest land on the island. Though there is a sharp decent from 188ish and Dykman. The bus moves slowly. It trudges. People editorialize. A fat ass couple buffaloed their way onto the crowded bus I was on this morning, just as the doors were closing (never mind there was another bus right behind us). They came in through the rear door, and the driver couldn't close the door cause the guy was in the well. He finally got his act together, and you should seen this these two. Out to lunch.
The woman spoke in a loud, clear voice. "Hey, I know you going to be easy on the breaks cause you got passengers attempting to maintain our balance back here." She turns to her husband, shaking her head. "I think this bitch is trying to kill us."
When I got out of the train at 168 I put on Sterling and Steiner and caught the post game show. It took several tense minutes before I learned who had won. I tried to figure it out through Steiner's presentation, but they were still busy playing the Yankees comeback. I looked around at the other passengers, listening intently. When the word came down that the Yanks lost, I was bummed, but not distraught. When I heard it was Benitez, I was like ¡®OK, that's fine.' Good for the Sox. They have to win that game. Fine.
Then the ride took forever and a day, but I thought about how my friend Johnny Red Sox actually bought a couple of tickets for the game and was there. He brought his girl, a Yankee fan up there for the day. So for what it's worth, my level of friendship with John superseded my personal disappointment for a while. His trip was worth it. And he'll get laid tonight and the weekend will have turned out great, and so I'm happy for his stinkin ass.
It looked like the Sox were going to lose again, but they showed true grit and banged out the win. When I got off the shuttle train at 231rst Street, I felt all right. You want to know why? Because the level of competition between the Yanks and Sox is consistently high. And if they are so many great games, well, hey, the Sox have to win some too, right?
Today was another great game, decided in the late innings. The games are almost always close. What they lack in personal venom they make up for in theater, tension, and good old fashion hardball. Both parks are great, they look great in the day and they look great at night. Both teams have great uniforms (most of the time). I think the Yankees, Sox rivalry is alive and well, even if the Yankees do hold the overall advantage, because the Sox are a good team who aren't afraid to play with the Yankees. And that's a beautiful thing.
Anyway, I figured Weaver would be involved in some melodrama tomorrow on Sunday Night Baseball. Unless it's just me. But tomorrow it's all on the line for my man. It's actually a good match up for him, because Lowe is the pitcher that Weaver should aspire to be. Weaver is capable of being good, as he showed against the Jays before the break, but his ass is on the line here. Got to keep the ball down, meat. Leave the duce at home, bro. This is the Sox. The Red Sox do not fear Jeff Weaver. Do you?
Oh yeah, here is an e-mail I recieved this evening from my friend Shawn Clap:
Does Joe Torre not watch Met games? Does he not read the papers?
What would convince him and Mel that Armando could get 5 lefties out in one inning?
I still hate Nick Johnson, but a little less than before.
Hey, tough crowd, babe.
MUSHED True to form, the
True to form, the Sox have rebounded from last night's loss, and are holding the Yanks down through five this afternoon at the Fens. Both Nomar and Manny have homered. Boston leads, 4-0. Old man Burkett is out-pitching Mike Mussina. How is that for dumb luck? Glad I'm not watching.
Of course the Yanks still have plenty of time to come back, but my spidey-sense is telling me that the Sox will cruise today. What? You thought that Jeff Weaver was going to have a pressure-free outing on national television tomorrow night? Fat chance.
The question is: will it be his last with the Bombers?
THE MORNING AFTER There was
THE MORNING AFTER
There was no mention of Manny's base running in the Boston papers this morning, while the New York press went with the "same as it ever was" angle on the game.
Not only was Enrique fine, but Bernie had three hits off Pedro, and enjoyed his best game since returning from the dl, in spite of misplaying Manny's fly ball into a double. I was thinking about how Manny missed first on that play, and I first assumed it was because he thought he had hit it out. But maybe he missed it cause he thought Bernie was going to make the catch. No excuse, either way.
Jesse Orosco was onions whiffing Damon with the bases-loaded in the sixth, and Armando pitched well in a pressure-packed situation to boot. Kudos to Boomer Wells, who walked five, and hung tough on a night when his back was bothering him, and he didn't have his best stuff. Ditto to Pedro, who is as good as it gets, even when he takes an "L."
I don't know if any other pitcher could get away with the smack he was talking to Dana Demuth late in the game.
Loyal Bronx Banter readers, Jamie and Gioia Bakum---Yankee fans living in the heart of Beantown, were at the game. This morning, Jamie sent me his impressions of the game:
Wow - my heart is still just getting settled down. Gioia and I had (fairly crummy) right field seats for this one through one of the 4-game packs we'd ordered back in February. At the bottom of the first, we wandered over to visit a couple who'd come up from Long Island for a family function, pulled in a favor, and gotten field box seats along the first base line. We were both in the bathroom when Jorge homered, which is, of course, the only reason he did. Our friends had four seats for themselves and their two boys and accomodated us (more or less happily, I hope) through 4 innings with the kids alternately on their laps or running around to find cotton candy. They packed up in the bottom of the 6th, and Gioia and I stretched out in our 4-seat row and enjoyed a fantastic view of an incredible game.
Tell me about it. I'm happy that I'm stuck working today, because I don't want to watch the game either. As lame as Burkett as been against the Yanks and as good as Moose has been against the Sox, Boston has a propensity for shrugging off big losses this year. I get superstitious about Yankee-Sox games on Fox too, don't ask me why. I wouldn't put any money down on this one. I say the Sox win in a high-scoring affair.
PUTTIN' HEADS TO BED Bottom
PUTTIN' HEADS TO BED
Bottom of the Ninth
The heart of order is due up. Manny can still redeem himself. Todd Walker leads off and looks at a strike. He fouls the next pitch, a cutter in on the hands, off, 0-2. Fastball, uncorked ala Nuke Lalooshe, way upstairs. Like the fifth floor. Draws a reaction from the crowd. The next pitch is slashed foul, into the Yankees dugout. The crowd applauds. Still 1-2. Another foul. Another cutter, another foul. Fastball, low, 2-2. Cutter, fouled off to the right side. The next pitch, a fastball high, is chopped to short right field. Sori moves back to his left and makes the catch easily for the first out.
Nomar: Fastball, up and in. Ball one. Fastball, strike. Inside corner. Moans. Fastball, outside, fouled back. Fastball outside, fouled away again. Both times to the right side. That pitch was a little over the plate. Nomar mashes the next pitch off the green monster in left and cruises into second with a double.
Well, this game giveth and it taketh away. And here is Manny, just a single away from a little redemption. The Sox fans are now up in full force. What could be finer than beating Rivera, after all?
Fastball, outside for a ball. (Damn, that was close.) Another fastball, further outside, 2-0. Country hard ball, right down the plate. Manny swings and misses. Wow. Fastball, outside, misses again, 3-1. Fastball upstairs, walked him.
"Semi-intentional," says Kitty Kaat. Gabe Kapler comes in to pinch run for Manny.
Here's that man Millar again. The guy Cossette told me is the leader in the clubhouse. The guy who wasn't shy about getting into it in the papers with Rocket Clemens.
Fastball, outside corner, strike one. Fastball, way upstairs, 1-1. (I'm schvitzin my ass off here. Try to breath, breath.) Fastball, inside. 2-1. Fastball, swung on and missed, fouled back, 2-2. Nice cut, Conan. Millar almost came out of his shoes on that one. Fastball, way upstairs, and Millar swings and misses, strike three. That one was way out of the strike zone. Beauty pitch, eh? Two out.
Jeremy Giambi comes on to pinch hit. Fastball, high. 1-0. Brother Jason is watching from the bench. Posada calls time and walks maybe ten paces towards the mound, and shouts out to Mo and his infielders. Cutter, check swing. No call.
"Borderline," says Kaat.
Fastball, fouled back. 2-1. Posada is out to talk quickly with Rivera. Fastball, inside, 3-1. One pitch away from loading ¡®em up. Cutter fisted softly to Soriano. Everything slows down and suddenly deflates at the Fens. Sori paused, waited, made the catch, and then tossed the ball away. Game over.
YANKS 4. SOX 3
Big win for the Bombers. Exciting and taut. Well, what did you expect?
OK, now I can breath. If you've managed to follow this entire acccount, so now, can you.
SCRATCHIN' Top of the ninth
Top of the ninth
Mr. Kim is on, and Enrique Wilson leads off with his second hit of the night, a clean single up the middle. Sori attempt to bunt again. Ugly, 0-1. On the next pitch, Wilson goes, and after Soriano swings through the fastball, Enrique slides in safely at second, his second swipe of the game. Soriano gets fisted inside, but he pushes a grounder to second and moves Wilson along to third. Way to go Sori.
Ball one and then ball two to Jeter. Slider outside swung on a missed, strike one. Fastball, inside corner, strike two. The crowd is up. Jeter takes a defensive cut and slaps a liner to center. It's deep enough, and Wilson tags and scores. Yanks take the lead back, 4-3. Way to go smallball.
Kim hits Jason Giambi in the quad with the first pitch. Giambi gives him a little look and heads to first. The crowd is quiet, but not despondent.
Kim gets ahead of Bernie 1-2, and then Williams lofts a short fly ball to Manny in left, 3 out.
Last licks for the Sox. Here come the big boys.
IS IT WARM IN HERE?
IS IT WARM IN HERE?
Bottom of the Seventh
Orosco stays on to face Todd Walker, who skies a fly ball off the end of his bat to shallow center field. Jeter goes back, and Bernie comes in and makes a semi-basket catch. One out. That's the old Bernie slickness. He always looks like he's half lucky to have made the catch, and confident that he had it all along. That's it for Jesse. Here it is: here comes Armando. I can hear the Mets fans licking their chops around the city.
Armando is in, and he gets Nomar to ground out to Jeter, 6-3. Two outs. Manny's second chance for redemption. This is the Beef factory, baby. 97 mph heater is fouled off, 0-1. Another heater, another great swing, fouled back. Oh, man. Manny is not getting cheated. He's also not mising by much. Pressure? Fastball, high and away, 1-2. Another heater, low and outside, 2-2. Awww, nutzo. Calm down, big guy. Manny skies a fly ball to Bernie in center who makes the out to end the frame.
Top of the Eighth
Posada leads off. Mike Timlin is in to pitch for Boston. He strikes Jorgie out swinging. Johnson taps out to Nomar, 6-3. Mondesi flies to left. Easy inning for Boston.
Bottom of the Eighth
Was it Ed Cossette who said Millar would be the first Sox to go deep on Armando? He has his chance to lead off the eighth. The crowd is stirring, waiting anxiously to cheer about something. Armando k's Millar on a 2-2 heater, outside corner. John Blaze. One out. Armando falls behind David Ortiz, 2-0. Ortiz lines a single to right. Damian Jackson is in to run for Ortiz.
Bill Mueller looks at a ball, low. Jackson steals second, ball two. This will be Armando's last batter if he can't get Walker out. Posada made the throw from his knees. But Mueller pops the next pitch up to Enrique Wilson in short left field for the second out.
Do you pull Armando? Trot Nixon is due up. Perfect Yankee killer. First pitch is a splitter, low for a ball. The crowd is still cautious in between pitches. The next pitch gets away from Posada. The pitch had a lot of movement on it and it crossed Posada up. Jorge should have had it. He got the fastball, but was expecting the splitter. Jackson moves to third, 2-0.
Here comes Torre to get him and here comes Mo. Elvis Costello, not Metallica, play as Rivera warms up. His first pitch to Nixon is a cutter, inside for ball three. Next pitch, a fastball, right down the middle. 3-1 pitch, way inside, ball four. It's up to the catcher, Varitek.
Cutter on the inside corner, Varitek can't check his swing, 0-1. Another cutting, in on the hands, dribbled foul. 0-2. Cutter fisted over Jeter's head into left for a game-tying single. Good piece of hitting by Varitek. Sox 3, Yanks 3.
Damon looks at a ball, high and outside. First and third, 2 out. Cutter misses inside, 2-0. The next pitch drops in on the outside corner for a strike, 2-1. Damon fouls the next pitch off his foot. Cutter inside, tipped, and caught. Strike 3.
It all comes down to the ninth.
CHASED Top of the Seventh
Top of the Seventh
Wilson laces a single to center. Sori tries to bunt on the first pitch, but it rolls foul. The next pitch is a breaking ball that slips out of Martinez's hand and it goes behind Sori for a wild pitch. Wilson moves to second. Sori tries to bunt again. Fastball, in. Terrible. Sori fouls it off. Breaking pitch, low and away. Sori fouls it off. 1-2 pitch is a fastball, way high. Varitek goes out for the second time of the inning to talk with Pedro. 2-2 pitch, outside corner, is somehow NOT called a strike. This ump is a clown. Another cruddy call. Not a problem. Pedro blows the next one by Sori to sit his ass down again. The Prince has a couple of choice words for Dana too.
First pitch to Jeter is inside for a ball. Ball two. Fastball, Jeter tried to check his swing, strike one. They love to hate Jeter here. Fastball, blown by Jeter, who does his childhood idol Dave Winfield proud with that cut. Another heater, but Jeter manages to foul it back. Good cut. He missed his pitch right there. Enrique is on the move, and Pedro misses upstairs. No throw and Wilson has stolen third. Full count to Jete. The infield moves in. The crowd is up. Another nice-looking pitch, over the outside corner. Jeter does his lean, and gets the call. Ball four. Bloody outrage. Jeter snaps the bat back with vigor. Pedro is talking much trash now. Dana warns him. It looks like he could toss him if he wanted to. But he doesn't. The Sox converge on the mound. Little is out. And he has a chat with Demuth too. Only Pedro could get away with being so petulent.
Ball one to Giambi. Swing strike. Nail-biting time. The crowd is present, but there are many lulls between pitches. Fastball way outside, Giambi flails at it, strike two. The crowd is passionately up now. Pedro throws another heater right by Giambi for his tenth K of the night. "That's just raw heat, right there," says Kitty Kaat.
Pedro has thrown 123 pitches. Here comes Bernie. He needs to come through in a big spot. Fastball, swung on and missed, strike one. There are no silences now. Fastball, low and inside, 1-1. Another cock high fastball, just inside. That damn thing has teeth on it. Look out. Fastball, low, Bernie pops it foul. The count is even and the crowd is nuts. Everybody is standing, applauding. Pressure? Bernie steps out. Bernie and Pedro are doing their little dance. Pedro's next pitch--128 on the eveing--is a breaking ball that hangs in the zone; Bernie pops it into right for a single. Yanks lead, 3-2. Hot damn.
Little pulls Pedro who receives a much-deserved ovation. Another masterful performance. In spite of the officiating. Scott Sauerbeck, the man the Yankees couldn't get from the Pirates, comes on to face Matsui. His first pitch jelly-legs Godzilla and falls in for a strike. Curveball, low, 1-1. Another curve, outside; Matsui swings weakly, 1-2. Curve ball in the dirt, and Matsui goes down swinging.
Stretch. Yanks 3 Sox 2
I'll ask again. Who will be the first Sox to homer off of Armando?
FRIDAY NIGHT: YANKS AT SOX
FRIDAY NIGHT: YANKS AT SOX
WELLS VS. PEDRO
Top of the first
Soriano goes down on strikes. 1-2 breaking ball, what else? Jeter lines out to Nixon in right and on a 3-2 pitch, Pedro misses with a fastball low and away, to Giambi and walks him. Bernie gets fisted and bloops one to left. Fat ass Manny can't get to it, and Williams has a single. Giambi to third. Matsui looks at two fastballs, and the second one is nasty. It reminds me of what Greg Maddux said in SI this week:
Damon works a full count and then singles to left. Lookit, there's lil' Nicky Johnson playing first tonight. Welcome back, Nicky. Walker bounces one to Johnson, who steps on the bag and then adroitly makes the throw to second, where Jeter fields and swipe tags Damon out to complete the 3-6-3 double play. Wells looks uncomfortable. And pissed at home plate ump Dana Demuth to boot. He is 7-0 on the road this year and the Yanks are 9-0 on the road when he pitches. He walks Garciaparra. Nomar?!? Walk number 7 on the year. Unlucky seven.
Manny bombs one to straight away center, Bernie looks like he has a bead on it but he loses it at the wall, and it bounces in for a double. Garcio scores. Manny has himself a double. The replays showed that Ramirez completely missed first base; he was so busy admiring his handiwork the dope missed the bag. Puff much? For his sake, the Sox better win. Millar hits a one hopper to Sori, 5-3.
Jorge hits the first pitch into the Sox bullpen. Nixon dives over the wall in vain. I'll repeat that: Jorge Posada got a hit¡ªa homer!---off of Pedro, who has absolutely owned him. YES Network said he has K'd 26 times off of Martinez. Wow. Nick Johnson lines a single to left. Atta baby. Mondesi hits a slow grounder to second. Pedro covers first, as Johnson moves to second. One out. Enrique Wilson is in the nine hole tonight believe it or not. Pedro falls behind him 3-0. Walks him. Kaat says he was pitching around him on purpose because Wilson has done well against Martinez. He'd rather face the free-swinging Sori. He does and Soriano pops the first pitch up to center for the second out. Kaat is talking about how savvy and confident Martinez is.
Jeter grounds the first pitch foul. The next pitch is low and in, just off the plate. Same pitch, a little better, and Pedro is ahead, 1-2. This guy has so much movement and rotation on his pitches. Fastball outside corner¡¦Jeter does his trademark; hanging off a Warner Bros cliff with an anvil in your arms, move. Looks it right into the glove. Wow. Now Pedro is miffed. Next pitch, back inside again, same spot¡¦Ball 3. Holy cow these pitches aren't missing by much. Jeter steps out. Fastball outside, Jeter barely fouls it away to stay alive. Jeter steps out. Boo's. Pedro is taking forever. Curve ball, and Jeter fouls it off his foot. (Jeter leads the Yanks in hitting with runners in scoring position.) Fastball, low and away. The worst pitch of the at bat, and Jeter walks. Bases juiced for Giambi.
Curveball outside to Giambi. The crowd is skeptical and quiet. Stirring just a bit here and there. Fastball, inside, 2-0. Pedro taking his time. Breaking ball inside, and Giambi can't hold up, 2-1. Fastball, swung on and missed. Blew it by him, 2-2. Now the crowd is alive. Standing. Fastball, low and in, and a huge groan. Full count. Will Jeter pull a C.C. Sabathiaa? Fastball, outside, diving down and away. Fastball, sinker, forkball? I don't know. Out of the zone. Giambi waves at it, strike three. Who's the man? Relief at the Fens¡¦for now.
My girlfriend, Emily is going to be thrilled when she hears that her boy Posada hit a homer tonight. I don't know why she chose Jorgie as one of her favorites. Her first favorite was Giambi, and the Matsui and then Jorgie. Or maybe Posada came before Matsui. But I took time to inform her this morning of Jorgie's very one-sided relationship with Pedro Martinez. Pedro does Vulcan mind tricks on poor fallible Posada, and he can truly screw Posada's approach for a week or more. But of course, Emily, a baseball novice, and way to well adjusted to believe in sports superstition, pessimism or negativity---her sense of appreciation doesn't involve wins and loses--tells me, ¡®Jorge will do fine, he'll do good, don't worry.'
I'm like, ¡®But honey, you don't understand¡¦"
"Okay, whatever. You'll see."
Bottom of the Second
David Ortiz grounds a 1-2 pitch to Soriano, 5-3. 1-1 pitch to right handed Bill Mueller is up and in, and so is the next pitch, but this one catches the inside corner. Annoyed response from the fans. Mueller ropes the next pitch into left for a single. Nixon slaps the first pitch he sees into center for a single. First and second, and there is no lack of drama, or base runners tonight, folks.
Boomer comes back and strikes out the nine hitter, Jason Varitek, the catcher. Posada goes out to talk to Boomer for the third time tonight. Sometimes, it just ain't easy, I guess. Johnny Damon works the count to 2-2 and then slaps a fastball, out over the plate, to left for a run scoring single. Sox, 2-1. Todd Walker flies out to right to end the inning. Wells is horseshit right now.
Top of the Third
Bernie pops out to Millar in foul ground, 1 out. The count goes to 2-2 on Matsui and Pedro just misses, another groan from the crowd. Pedro snaps at the ball on the return throw from Varitek. Matsui grounds the next pitch up the middle, much like his first at-bat, and once again, there is Nomar to make the make the play. Two out. Don't hit it to that guy again, Matsuso, baby.
Here comes Posada. Limping back to the batters box like a pooch that has disobeyed his master. Pedro reminds Jorgie who is boss and strikes him out on three pitches. The last pitch is a curve ball that just floats to the plate and then dives down out of the zone. I thought it might be a knuckler. Pedro walked off the mound looking at Jorgie like, ¡®You'll never hit another dinger off of me brother, remember who your daddy is.' Or something to that effect.
Bottom of the third.
Nomar grounds out to Enrique Wilson at third. The crowd seems more subdued that usual tonight. Manny works the count full, and fouls the payoff pitch off. Single off the wall. Another one-out hit for the Sox. When Jeter catches the relay throw from Matsui he turns, in perfect form, flexin his Jeteronomy, and brings the ball back into the infield. It's why he's easy to like and easy to hate. He's got charisma. He's so into the game, whenever the ball comes to him, he's a showoff. He's a gamer. He might not be as great as George Brett, but he's probably disliked as much as Brett was in his prime. Of course, both players are adored too.
Millar lofts a fly ball to right, and Mondesi makes the catch easily. As this is happening, Manny is drifting across second base. I guess he thinks there were two outs. But he can't get to back to first in time, and Manny makes his second dumb ass blunder of the game. The play was close at first, and Johnson had to dive to catch him. Was he safe? No, Manny doesn't get the benefit of the call on that one.
You can get away with one, but not two, Papi. Grady Little can't believe it on the Sox dugout.
Top of the Fourth
Johnson whiffs. I-2 pitch just misses to Mondesi, but the next pitch doesn't. Raul whiffs. Enrique Wilson almost throws his back out on the first pitch, a breaking ball in the zone, 0-1. Wilson grounds the next pitch to first to end the inning. Martinez has retired 7 in a row. Manny who?
Bottom of the Fourth
Boston has six hits in three innings off of Wells. Ortiz lines the first pitch toward right, and Johnson spears it for the first out. Bill Mueller looks at a curve for a strike and then pops the next pitch sky hi to center. Bernie makes the catch for the second out.
Boomer throws a strike to Trot Nixon. The Dirt Dog lines the next pitch to Bernie in center for the third out of the inning. Both pitchers have a smooth inning.
If the Sox lose the game, Manny is going to get killed, and if they win, he'll get killed too, but it won't sting as much for Sox fans, cause they'll have won the game. But the papers are going to love this one. I was talking to Ed Cossette last week that thinks that the Boston press and the New England general public give Trot Nixon a pass because he's a good ol' scrappy white guy. Whereas Manny, the aloof and unavailable Manuelito, is definitely going to get picked on. Doesn't matter how much better he is than Nixon.
Top of the Fifth
Sori whiffs on three pitches. Martinez has thrown 75 in the game. The crowd is pensive, cautious. Jeter inside-outs a grounder to the right side. Millar snags it and makes the play to Pedro at first. Could have been a double. Nice stab. Sox flashing the leather tonight.
Curve ball to Giambi, strike one. Fastball, way inside, 1-1. Curve ball, higher, on the outside corner, 1-2. Now the clapping is getting louder¡¦Ball inside, and low. In and out here on Giambi. Fastball way outside, Varitek stands up to receive it. 82 pitches. 3-2. Fastball, low and away, fouled back. Good swing by Giambi. Stone silence. Growing clapping again¡¦Martinez delivers the high fromage, ¡®eee strug ¡®im out.' Seventh strike out for Prince P. Smokin.'
Bottom of the Fifth
Varitek hits the 0-1 pitch on one-hop to Jeter, 6-3. One out. Wells gets ahead of Damon, 0-2, and then Johnny with the big mouth laces his third hit of the night into right for a single. Boomer is bothered with the home plate ump. Another one out hit for the Sox. Wells falls behind Todd Walker, 3-0. Not walk number 8? Yup, walk number 8 on the season for Boomber. No soup for you, fat guy. Here comes Nomie.
Fastball inside, 1-0. Jorgie goes out to talk to Wells. When they decide to get on with it, Nomar fouls the next pitch back, 1-1. Fastball, low, grounded foul, fielded nicely by Karim Garcia in the Yankees dugout, 1-2. Wells spins and chases Damon back to second. Jeter and Sori are miles from the base. Hilarious. A groan from the crowd. High fly ball to center field¡¦Bernie's got it. Damon tags. First and third, two out. Manny hears a smattering of boos along with the cheers as he's announced. He hits a dinger here, and all will be forgiven.
Curve ball, low. Curve ball, dropping inside and low. Delayed call strike, 1-1. Millar is on deck. Curve ball drops in on the outside part of the plate for a strike, 1-2. Manny is taking forever, and Wells walks off the mound with contempt. Breaking ball, right over the heart of the plate, cock high as they say. Ramirez doesn't move, strike three, end of inning. Aww, bacon.
Top of the Sixth
Bernie grounds a ball under Todd Walker's diving glove, into right for a single. Then Pedro almost picks him off as he gets ahead of Matsui 0-2. 90 pitches for Prince P. Fastball, low. The Yanks have to keep it close and get rid of Pedro by next inning. Martinez makes a quick, side step motion like he's going to throw the ball 98 mph, and he tosses another curve, low and away and Matusi is the eighth victim of the night.
Jorgie slaps a seeing-eye single between Bernie and Todd Walker into right on the first pitch for a single. Bernie moves to third. Here is Nick Johnson. Ball one. The second pitch is a breaking ball that somehow misses?!!?? 2-0. Excuse me? The next pitch is a nastier breaking pitch, on the outside corner, strike. Another breaking ball, low and in, 3-1.
Kaat says Torre likes to hit and run in this situation. Posada and Bernie are not the smartest baser runners on the team. Posada does go and Nick bounces one to second. Kaat calls it on the head, as Bernie scores and Jorgie reaches second safely. 2-2 ballgame. Very quiet now.
Mondesi fishes at the first offering, and then flies out to Nixon in right to end the inning.
Bottom of the Sixth
Millar works the count full, and Dumuth calls a tight fastball strike three. The crowd reacts. Millar and Grady Little are not pleased either. Can Wells avoid giving up another one out hit? Ortiz is up. Wells has thrown just under 90 pitches. Ortiz grounds the 2-2 pitch sharply to Soriano at second, who makes the easy play easily. But he botches a foul pop up in the next at bat that could have gotten Wells out of the inning. Johnson and Mondesi were in on it too. The ball kept drifting towards Sori, who stabbed at it and dropped it. The scorer gives him an error. Oohh, harsh. But he should have caught it.
Breaking ball, low and away, ball one to Trot Nixon. Fastball, up and in, ball two. Uh-oh. Mel gets on the horn to the bullpen. Fastball, outside, 3-0. Yipe. Orosco is getting up. Holy cow. Wells comes back with a fastball for a strike, 3-1. Misses inside, ball four. Yeesh. Kaat insists that Wells' back is bothering him. Six walk all year, four tonight.
Here comes Vari. Another Dirt Dog. Fastball low, ball. Wells wanted that one. Looping curve ball, inside, 2-0. Incredible. Wells hasn't been this vunerable outside of the strike zone all year. Fastball, high. Checked swing. Ball. Wells gestures with his hand, ¡®Was is high?' Oh-uh. Calm down, fly boy. 85 mph fastball strike. Crowd getting hyper. Curve ball, low, ball four. Walk number eleven. Joe comes out. Wells is booed as he walks off the field.
Man, this is a tight spot. And here comes Orosco¡¦the crowd is now up and thriving. A tight spot. Old man Orosco comes in to face Johnny Damon. This is ridiculous. How great is this cheese?
Sling-shot fastball, outside corner, strike one. The next pitch is even further outside, ball one. Fastball, in on the hands, fouled back. Jammed him.
My heart is thumpin now. 1-2 pitch, ¡®eee stug ¡®im out!' That was a Dan Pleasac vs. Paulie O special. End of inning. Damn.
I've said this before, so
I've said this before, so excuse me if I repeat myself, but I think that Jay Jaffe's Futility Infielder features some of the best baseball writing you can find anywhere. 'Nuff said.
BATTLE IN BEANTOWN The stage
BATTLE IN BEANTOWN
The stage is set for an important three-game series between the Yanks and Sox in Boston tonight. Will the two teams engage in bench-clearing hostilities (the tabloids can only wish)? Will both offenses bash the opposing pitching into submission? Who will be the first Red Sox to homer off Aramando? Will Mr. Kim give up another game to the Yanks? Who will have the best quotes, and who will not talk at all? It will be interesting to find out.
I heard a report that "Moneyball" author, Michael Lewis will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. Think the Yanks will have Max Frazee return the favor next month?
The Yankees and the Red Sox will play each other nine more times this season. The Bombers hold a 6-4 advantage thus far, and enter Fenway park tonight with a two-and-a-half game lead. The Sox need to sweep the Yanks in order to move into first place. Predictably, the papers in New York are hyping the series as a potential bean-brawl affair. The great Pedro Martinez will try to improve his career mark to over .500 against New York tonight; he faces Boomer Wells. (My spidey sense is telling me that Pedro will humble the Yanks proper tonight.) Mike Mussina goes against old man Burkett on Saturday, and Derek Lowe faces off against Jiffy Pop Weaver on the espn game of the week on Sunday night.
There isn't much left to say really. The stakes are high and the tension is palpable. There hasn't been much trash-talking yet, although Johnny Damon characteristically is making predictions again, though they are tame by his standards. The Sox have not swept the Yankees since 1999, and now would obviously be a good time to end that trend. If the Yankees can manage to win two of three, the weekend will be a success for New York.
Nick Johnson is due to join the big club over the weekend. I wonder if Sunday's performance will determine Jeff Weaver's future with the club? My feeling is that if he gets pounded, he'll be gone by the trading deadline.
DON'T CALL ME NIGGER, WHITEY;
DON'T CALL ME NIGGER, WHITEY; DON'T CALL ME WHITEY, NIGGER
Barry Bonds caused a bit of a stir when he dissed Babe Ruth a few weeks ago. Of course, it's hard to take Bonds' arguement too seriously--try pitching dude---but I did find his anger revealing. Bonds grew up watching his father go through a difficult time with the media--which was in part because of his blackness, and I'm sure he was aware of how much racism Aaron encountered when he broke Ruth's record. Ruth represented something sacred to white America, and many African Americans are sick of it. He also represents an era when black players weren't allowed to play with white players, hence the resentment.
It is ironic then, to consider some of the taunts that Ruth endured during his playing days. He was called a monkey and an ape, and according to R. Creamer's classic biography:
Beyond the simian insults were rougher epithets built around the word nigger. He was called nigger, nigger this, nigger that, all the vituperative changes on the theme that Jackie Robinson was to endure thirty years later. Ruth was called nigger so often that many people assumed he was indeed partly black and that at some point in time he, or an immediate ancestor, had managed to cross the color line. Even players in the Negro baseball leagues that flourished then believed this and generally wished the Babe, whom they considered a secret brother, well in his conquest of white baseball.
The subject of racism and sabermetrics has been a hot topic this week as well. Check out Mike C's great takes on the subject, as well as David Pinto's two-cents worth two. They link all the necessary articles to keep you up to date in Kansas City.
PARDON OUR APPEARANCE Like the
PARDON OUR APPEARANCE
Like the new look? We'll be back to normal shortly...Thanks.
ANDY: DANDY Andy Pettitte won
Andy Pettitte won his seventh in a row last night against the O's, giving him at least 12 victories in his first 9 seasons. Ain't nobody done that in a long time. (Pays to be on the Bronx Bombers, huh?) I've been down on Pettitte this year, saying that I have little faith in him from outing to outing. But he's been keeping the ball down, and has been on a roll. Kudos to you, Andy. Robin Ventura had a couple of hits, and it seems as if the All-Star break gave him the rest he so sorely needed. Bernie Williams had two hits, and the two outs he made were hit well too.
After giving up a solo home run to lead off the eighth, Pettitte was replaced by Armando, who worked a perfect inning. Rivera got the save. The Sox, lead by dirt dog Trot Nixon---one of my favorite Bostonians---mauled the D-Rays and remain two and a half back. The Sox play the Rays this afternoon, at the same time the Yanks play Baltimore. Clemens will pitch today. It is raining this morning in New York, so if the game is called, Rocket will go against Pedro tomorrow night in Boston.
The Yanks were quick to call the second game against Toronto the other night; how long do you think they'll wait today? Six o'clock?
HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?
HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?
Score a victory for the Sox, as they acquired left-handed specialist Scott Sauerbeck from the Pirates last night. The Yankees have been after Sauerbeck for several weeks, but the Pirates reportedly told Brian Cashman that New York didn't have enough to get the deal done. The Red Sox didn't exactly give the Pirates the world. Think the Boss is upset? Think Theo and co. did a little dance?
The Yanks answered by picking up old man Jesse Orosco from San Diego for a player to be named later. So far this summer the Yankees have added Dan Miceli, Karim Garcia, Ruben Ruben, Armando, and now Orosco for their stretch run. Not exactly an imposing group of players.
Excuse me for sounding like a mope, but I just don't get that championship feeling from this team. Which is not to say they can't do it. But they have a rent-a-wreck quality about them that is hard to deny. Orosco's theme music should be Quincy Jones' theme song for "Sanford and Son."
Last night's game was rained out, so the Yanks avoided facing Roy Halladay. They start a two-game series against the streaking O's today in the Bronx, but with more rain on the way, Roger Clemens could possibly pitch in Boston this weekend after all.
SWEET LOU Pat Jordan is
Pat Jordan is one of my favorite baseball writers, and I think he's surely the best former-player turned writer. Jordan contributes pieces to the Times magazine several times a year, and his latest is on our man in Tampa, Lou Piniella. Worth taking a look at.
CLEARANCE CLARENCE Me writeum blogging
Me writeum blogging post. Me hopes me back in saddle.
BLUES Blogger is killing me.
Blogger is killing me. It's eaten my last four posts. So now, this is a test, of the nimrod blogging system. Does this thing work at all?
BLACK AND BOOED The Yankees
BLACK AND BOOED
The Yankees swept the Indians over the weekend to start the second half in fine style (check The Replacement Level Yankees Blog for all the details), but they were derailed last night by the Blue Jays, who are in town for a brief, two-game series. The Yanks lost 8-0, while the Sox beat up the lowly Tigers, 14-5. The Yanks lead is down to three over Boston. Jeff Weaver, who has pitched well of late (including his last outing against Toronto), faltered, and was pounded by the strong Jays offense. Weaver's curveball was flat, and he got served, plain and simple. When Joe Torre came to get him, the Stadium crowd booed him lustily. John Harper is just one of the local columnists, questioning Weaver's ability to pitch in the Bronx this morning. With the trading deadline fast approaching, and Boss George due in town today, who would be surprised if the Yanks give up on the moody Californian?
With Nick Johnson close to returning, it's hard not to fantasize about the Yanks moving him and Weaver as part of a blockbuster package for Brian Giles. Hey, I love Nick Johnson, but a boy can still dream.
SCALPED The Yanks swept four
The Yanks swept four games from the Indians at the Stadium this weekend to start the second half in style. Of course, Armando was the talk of the town---would you believe there are some skeptics who think he'll choke in the Bronx just like he did in Queens--- and he pitched two effective innings on Friday. He was less than stellar on Saturday, so Joe Torre pulled him and Mariano got the Yanks out of trouble. Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter are hitting very well. Raul Mondesi and Alfonso Soriano also had good weekends, where they combined patience with power. David Wells is now 12-3. Talk about a Yankee Doodle Dandy. He is 64-24 as a Yankee.
BALLIN' The interview I conducted
The interview I conducted with Jim Bouton for Baseball Prospectus Radio is now posted on the Baseball Prospectus website. You can download the mp3 and catch Bouton talking about his latest book, "Foul Ball." He also talks about Old Timer's Day and why the modern ballplayer is superior to the guys he played with in the '60s; the prospect of a gay player coming out, as well how he 'invented' Big League Chew.
Check it out.
A CHUMP OF A DIFFERENT
A CHUMP OF A DIFFERENT COLOR
[Note: Nice last post, huh? Holy errors. I think I started my vacation too early. Jeff Weaver gave up one run, and Jason Giambi has 26 homers and 73 RBI.
I watched the All-Star and have to admit, although it was a close game, I wasn't so into it. I think inter-league play really kills the excitement for me. Anyhow, I was pleased that the AL won, for what it's worth.]
Here's another interesting wrinkle in the Yankees season (and the Mets season for that matter): Armando Benitez now wears pinstripes. The long-rumored deal which sent the Mets much-maligned closer to the Bronx finally went down yesterday. The Mets get three prospects in return for Benitez, who will serve as Mariano Rivera's set-up man.
I must admit, I don't know how to feel about this one. On one hand the Yankees just got more unlikable. They could start a club called The Moody Latin Mooks, what with Benitez joining Ruben Ruben and Raul Mondesi as card-carrying members. Hey, I know Jose Lima's stock is soaring right now, how about trading Weaver for him? The club would be complete if the Yanks trade for Juan Gone.
I've never cared much for Benitez, especially after he drilled Tino square in the back in '98. He's easy not to like. A hulking, sulking fireballer with a million dollar arm and a ten cent head. I watched from a distance as he became public enemy #1 for Mets fans everywhere (with apologies to Roger Cedeno). But I also found myself defending him to Mets fans who treated Benitez like he was Skip Lockwood. He is a talented closer, just not an elite one. But he blew one too many ¡®big' saves for the Mets and they clearly needed to wash their hands of him.
Now, after rooting against him all these years, Yankee fans have to get behind Benitez. As hard as this may seem, we had to get used to Roger Clemens too, and that worked out pretty well. One thing that works in his favor is that he is not going to close, unless something happens to Rivera (in which case, all bets are off). Is Benitez better than what the Yankees have? Yes. Will he make Yankee fans suffer in a close game, late in the season? Yes.
Will the Yankee fans cut him any slack at all? I don't know, but I wouldn't count on it. If he can somehow manage to start off on the right foot, it might go a long way in saving him a trip straight to the doghouse. But just wait until he blows a lead against the Sox.
I do know that this is a win-win situation for Mets fans. Whatever happens, they have to feel confident that they will make out on this trade. If Benitez stinks they'll be happy because the guy they hate is doing just what they expect him to do, plus he's doing it for the Yanks. And if he wins, then they get to hate him and the Yankees just a little bit more than they already do.
I'm curious to see how the Yankee players respond to the big lug, and of course, how he'll respond to a golden opportunity. Hey, at least this season hasn't been dull.
BLUE JAY WAY The Yanks
BLUE JAY WAY
The Yanks recovered over the weekend to take two of three in Toronto from the Blue Jays. They finished the first half with their best record at the break since 1998; the Red Sox are just two games back.
Andy Pettitte was shaky on Friday night, but the Bombers' bats covered for him, and he earned the victory. The bullpen (Hammonds, and welcome back Osuna) fell apart for Mike Mussina---who was out-pitched by "Doc" Halliday---on Saturday, but Jeff Weaver came back on Sunday with perhaps his best performance of the year, as the Yanks beat the Jays, 6-1. Weaver pitched eight innings, didn't allow a run, struck out seven, and walked none.
The Jays are sliding, but they are a likable team. Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca is a precocious old guy. He can hang with Joe Torre or Pat Corrales any day. He looks like the late Phil Hartman doing an impression of W.C. Fields.
Jason Giambi now has 26 homers and 72 RBI. He also leads the league in walks. Jeter is hitting over .300; Bernie is back. When Nick Johnson returns by the end of the month, the Yankees' lineup should finally be back on track.
I'm on vacation this week, so blogging will be light to variable as they say.
RUMOR MILL I've heard that
I've heard that Pirates pitcher Kris Benson is likely to become a Red Sox. But are the Red Sox willing to move an outfielder to get some pitching? The Globe has an article detailing the latest rumors this morning.
SAY WHAT? In the wake
In the wake of Curtis Pride's emotional home run against Boston last weekend, Bruce Markusen looks at the history of deaf players in his latest Cooperstown Confidential column.
NOTHING SHOCKING It turns out
It turns out Pedro Martinez will pitch against the Yanks in their next series after all. Tell me something I don't know.
CRUMBS The first fan letter
The first fan letter I ever wrote to a ballplayer was to Jason Giambi during his first spring training with the Yankees. I don't really know why---perhaps I was still smarting from the Game 7 loss in Arizona---but I felt compelled to welcome the big lug to New York. I ended up sending him a 7 page letter, warning him about the boos that would greet him, and the highs and lows New York would have to offer.
Several months later I heard Giambi naively tell one of the newspapers, "You know, fans actually lose sleep in New York when we lose." No kidding, brother.
Well, count last night's 3-2, extra-inning loss as one of those nights. Coupled with the fact that the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Jays in Toronto to move two games out of first place, there was a lot of tossing and turning in the BX last night. The Yankees didn't blow a seven run lead, but it was a game they clearly should have won.
Roger Clemens labored through seven innings, but only gave up two runs. The Yankees offense, which has been slumping for the last week (with the exception of their six-run outburst for Boomer), was asleep at the wheel again. Robin Ventura and Raul Mondesi are in terrible slumps. Mondesi didn't start last night, and went kvetching to the press about it. Hey, Mondesi doesn't want to return to the Yanks next year? Who says we want him here in the first place? Try knocking in 100 runs once, just once, and maybe you would feel wanted, papi.
While Jeter is starting to hit well, Alfonso Soriano inexplicably was picked off twice, killing potential rallies.
When Sterling Hitchcock came on in relief to start the top of the tenth, I knew the game would soon be over. Furious, I got on the phone to my friend Javier, and starting bitching and moaning. "Well, who would you rather see in this spot?" he asked.
That shut me up quickly. "Jeff Nelson!" was all I could muster.
The strangest play of the night came early in the game when Milton Bradley---who went hitless in the series---shoulder blocked Jason Giambi on a lazy play at first. So this is the redass special we've been hearing about. But late in the game Bradley reached first and appeared to clear the air.
The Yanks now head to Toronto, where the Jays will be waiting to break out a can of whup ass after getting swept by Boston. Meanwhile the Sox coast into the Motor City to play the Tigers.
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
Doug Pappas, who covers baseball economics with clarity and depth, is also a Mets fan. He sees dark days ahead for the Yanks:
Aw man, say it ain't so. But if history is an indicator, this is a very likely scenerio. Especially with Boston and Toronto already building for the future.
DEM'S FIGHTIN' WOIDS Are the
DEM'S FIGHTIN' WOIDS
Are the Yanks and Sox headed for a brawl? If the press has anything to say about it, you betcha. I'm sure if you polled most Yankee and Red Sox fans, they'd be all for it as well. Imagine? The talk radio shows would have enough material to carry them through the second half.
This story will do nothing but gain momentum over the next couple of weeks. The Yanks and Sox next meet for a three game set in Boston, July 25-27th. According to the Globe, Pedro Martinez may not start in the series. You know the Yankees will hope to avoid starting the volatile Rocket Clemens as well.
Boss George avoided a war of words with Pedro for the time being, but that could always change. Martinez took exception to Steinbrenner's comments that he intentionally tried to hit Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter on Monday. But George has a long history of crying when a Yankee gets hit.
In the last week of the 1981 season, Reggie Jackson, who suffered through a rough and tumble fianl season with the Yankees principal owner, got into it with pitcher John Denny of the Cleveland Indians. I vividly remember the encounter (I was ten years old). According to Dick Schaap's book, "Steinbrenner!:"
At the very least, perhaps the Sox want to retain legal counsel, just in case.
BERNIE'S BACK Man, what a
Man, what a sight for sore eyes. Bernie Williams returned to the Yankee line up last night in Cleveland and went 1-4 with 2 RBI. Soriano and Jeter and Moni were back too, and the Yanks beat the Indians, 6-2. Jeter had four hits. C.C. Sabathia walked six (a career high), but wasn't terrible. I hadn't seen him pitch all year, and I'd forgotten just how big he is. I knew he was hefty, but at 6'5, the guy is a mountain. Funny, but he rocks his cap slightly to the side, just to stay cool I guess. Boomer Wells recovered from the beating he took on the 4th, and shut down the Indians in his favorite home-away-from-home.
The Yanks didn't get any help from the Blue Jays, who blew a lead to the Sox and fell, 8-7. Doh! I caught the end of the game on ESPN2, and got all wrapped up in the game. Boy, it's great to hate a team. It adds so much tension and excitement to the season. Trailing by a run, Frankie Catalanotto lead off the ninth with a doulbe, his fifth hit of the game. But then, the Sox closer, Mr. Kim struck out the heart of the order to end the game.
ESPN ran a graphic which stated that the Sox have won twelve games in their last at-bat, and lost twelve games in their last at-bat. I was hoping for lucky number thirteen, but it wasn't to be, and Boston remains three games behind New York. The Jays are now eight games back. The Yanks and Jays square off this weekend, while the Sox play the Tigers. Grrrrr.
THE EGGMAN OR THE WALRUS?
THE EGGMAN OR THE WALRUS?
Earlier today, I was wondering just who Kevin Millar thinks he is. I expect whinning and carrying on from the likes of Clemens and Boss George and Prince Pedro, but Millar? I look at him as a good ballplayer who should be thanking his lucky stars he isn't on the other side of the world right now. Fortunately, Ed Cossette gave me the skinny:
ANGRY YOUNG MAN Alan Schwarz
ANGRY YOUNG MAN
Alan Schwarz has a long, compassionate article on Milton Bradley over at ESPN. I didn't realize that Bradley was such a nut job, but then again I haven't been paying too close attention. The article is worth reading, and Bradley is worth keeping tabs of, simply to see who he incites next.
KICKED OUT THE HOUSE Allen
KICKED OUT THE HOUSE
And I thought The Times was finally getting its act together. Here is Barra's latest piece for The Journal.
THE OUT OF TOWNER Sox
THE OUT OF TOWNER
Sox fan Ben Jacobs was in town over the weekend and caught Sunday and Monday's games (ah, bum luck strikes again). He survived the obnoxious louts and even met some nice fans too. His account of the Mussina-Pedro game is terrific.
DANG YANKEES There is a
There is a good profile on Bill James ("The Professor of Baseball") by Ben McGrath in the latest issue of The New Yorker. It appears that James was the perfect man for the Boston job in more ways than one. Not only is he one of the brightest minds in his field, but he has an inherent dislike of the Yankees too. The man who reads Douglass Wallop's 1954 novel, "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant," (upon which the musical "Damn Yankees" was based) to his kids every year, tells McGrath, "Kansas City hates New York more than Boston does."
According to James:
Now, that's a good line. But that's not all James is up to:
McGrath writes that "One goal that James and company are working toward involves identifying worrisome physiological and stylistic traits among pitchers that lead predictably to injury." This is something that Rob Neyer intimated might happen early this spring.
But of course, James is still a writer at heart:
I'm not a James fanatic by any stretch, but I do admit to having some James-envy now that he's working for the Sox. I didn't grow up reading his books. In fact, I only started reading his Abstracts a few years ago when my cousin was getting rid of all his copies. But I quickly discovered why he was so popular. It's not so much his theories that I responded to---although I appreciate them as well, but his writing style. The insight, the quick wit, and the built-in bullshit detector. It's good to see that even though he's working for the big boys now, he's still a writer first and foremost.
YOU TALKIN' LOUD BUT YOU
YOU TALKIN' LOUD BUT YOU AIN'T SAYIN' NUTHIN
In the aftermath of Monday's Sox-Yanks finale, there is still plenty of moaning going on. The participants? Boss George, Rocket Clemens, Prince Pedro and Kevin Millar. Kevin Millar? Damn. Is he still yappin? Not much of a story here---until the Yanks and Sox meet up again in a couple of weeks---just the usual bruised-ego, tough-talk you'd expect from big-walking, tough-talking guys.
Oh, Gertrude. I guess the Times has it right today; crying has become more acceptable in professional sports. Hey George, got a kleenex?
TRIPPED UP A funny thing
A funny thing happened to the Yankees on their way to the All Star break. They were one-hit by former Met prospect Billy Traber in Cleveland last night, and lost the game 4-0. Meanwhile the Blue Jays wasted another brilliant effort from Roy Halladay, as the Red Sox knocked them off in extra innings, 2-1. The Yankees lead over Boston is now down to three games.
After the Yanks were no-hit by the Astros earlier this year, Rob Neyer noted that the Bombers have just the kind of team that is prone to be getting shut down:
Instead of Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter at the top of the line up, the Yanks fielded Enrique Wilson (.200) and Todd Zeile (.198) last night. Ouch.
But manager Joe Torre gave credit where credit was due:
Jeff Weaver got into a jam in the first inning, giving up two runs, but then pitched well after that. Weaver looked so pissed in the first that I thought he was going to implode. It looked as if he wasn't even breathing, just seething, like a kettle ready to boil. It's clear that he's talented, but his head is in the toilet. He is a model of self-loathing.
Weaver needs to turn that frown upside down. Perhaps a little patience would help. Speaking of which, Bernie Williams will make his return to the Yankees tonight. And not a moment too soon.
WHO? The boys over at
The boys over at Elephants in Oakland are running a good series covering the A's prospects. Pitching phenom Rich Harden has been stealing the headlines all season, but a kid by the name of Justin Duchscherer looks mighty impressive too. I wonder if Beane will dangle Harden, while Duchscherer is his guy all along. Hmmm.
AIN'T NO HALF STEPPIN Who
AIN'T NO HALF STEPPIN
Who is the most underrated player in baseball? According to Aaron Gleeman, it's Seattle center fielder Mike Cameron.
FAT BEATS There is an
There is an excellent new blog out there called Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT. The writing is succint and thought-provoking, certainly a welcome addition to the world of baseball blogs. Check out the latest article on the merits of the Triple Crown. My old pal John Perricone, who appears to be back with a vengence, adds to the discussion over at Only Baseball Matters. Great to see you off the dl, John.
SLUMPIN Robin Ventura came to
Robin Ventura came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning yesterday, and struck out for the fourth time of the day. David Pinto thinks that Ventura is just about warshed up. As likable as Ventura is, I can't say that I disagree.
STRONG MEN ALSO CRY, SIR
STRONG MEN ALSO CRY, SIR
When I first went to work for the Coen brothers in the fall of 1996, they had already cast Jeff Bridges as "The Dude" for their next movie, "The Big Lebowski." For the first couple of weeks I was with them, they agonized over who would play "Lebowski." The trouble was, most of the actors on their wish list were dead: Fredy Gywnne, Raymond Burr, Orson Welles. Ultimately, it came down to two actors, one of whom was British. I thought the Brit was the better choice, but for Joel and Ethan it was important that the actor was American, preferably of the midwest variety.
Thinking back on it, George Steinbrenner would have been an ideal choice. I was reminded of this after reading that Boss George got all choked up in front of a group of stunned reporters after yesterday's exciting win over the Red Sox. As Lebowski would say, "Strong men also cry." Veteran New York reporters Bill Madden and Joel Sherman were genuinely surprised at Steinbrenner's reaction. That is saying something. Jack Curry reports in the Times:
According to Madden:
Ryan points out how the Red Sox wasted a great opportunity to take the series with Martinez pitching and the Yankees fielding their B (or C?) team.
WHAT, ME WORRY? I got
WHAT, ME WORRY?
I got a letter from reader Cliff Corcoran who found my general pessimissm surrounding the Sox series off-putting. Fair enough, but I should warn you, it ain't likey to change anytime soon. I'm a nervous, jumpy fan by nature, so please, bear with me folks. I usually put my own team down, and then hope for the best. It's not that I lack faith, it's just that I'm very reserved about expressing it. Plus, I guess I like to out-fox the Sox fans in the gloom-and-doom department (fat chance, buddy), just to try and jinx 'em.
Maybe I just want to be a Red Sox fan. I sure sound like one often enough. I don't know where I got this from. Perhaps it comes from growing up with the Yankees in the 80s. Or maybe it's because I'm a Knicks fan and a Jets fan too.
Otherwise, I think I'm a well-adjusted adult. Honest.
THE ONLY SPLIT THAT FITS
THE ONLY SPLIT THAT FITS
So who should steal the headlines from the big boys today, but Curtis Pride, of course. Pride hit a slow grounder to second; Bill Mueller bobbled the ball and then threw the ball over Jason Varitek's head, allowing Hideki Matsui to score the winning run. It took a full 20 seconds for "Mlb Gameday" to display what happened after they signaled that a pitch had been 'hit into play.' I thought my heart was going to pop out of my shirt.
I received the following e-mail from Ed Cossette when Ventura came to bat:
The Yanks earn a split of the four game series, and once again lead Boston by four games. Hey Millar, yer evicted buddy.
ONIONS! Mr. Kim showing he's
Mr. Kim showing he's got some brass ones, comes back and whiffs Ventura.
OR... Or Posada's fat ass
Or Posada's fat ass could get hit. Kim plunks Jorge to load the bases for Robin Ventura. Still nobody out.
RALLY...? Matsui leads off the
Matsui leads off the ninth with a single, and then Karim Garcia hits a single too. With Flaherty up, Posada must be pinch-hitting here. He can be a double-play machine...
POPPING OFF Me and my
Me and my big, fat mouth...Manny popped out to Jason Giambi to end the Boston ninth. Game is still tied. I am now in the process of chewing my entire hand, forget the nails. Who says we take this rivalry too seriously?
DOWN TO THE WIRE So
DOWN TO THE WIRE
So every Yankee fan feels confident that the Bombers will win this one, while every Sox fan feels that somehow the Sox will lose, right? (Or, almost right?)
I say Manny tags Mo in the ninth. Hope I'm very wrong.
STOP IT MAN, YER KILLIN
STOP IT MAN, YER KILLIN ME
Mike Mussina issued a two-out walk to Bill Mueller and then struck out Jason Varitek for the third time of the day to end the Boston eigth. Byung-Hyun Kim has replaced Pedro. You think the Stadium is rocking?
I just got an e-mail from the Mr. Cossette. It appears his e-mail is acting screwy (a likely story). He put it bluntly:
NAIL BITING TIME Pedro survived
NAIL BITING TIME
Pedro survived a lead off single and made it through the eighth. The game is still tied at one. I e-mailed Ed Cossette, who runs Bambino's Curse but haven't heard back from him yet. Superstitious sort.
STRETCH Mussina made it through
Mussina made it through Nomar and Manny in the top of the seventh, and the Yanks are right where they want to be. Close against Pedro, late in the game. Whatever happens, at least they had a fighting chance. Once again, Martinez has brought out the best in Mussina. Pedro has thrown over 100 pitches. How long before they yank him? Or will he even come out for the seventh? Hmmm.
DANDY After six innings, this
After six innings, this game is turning out to be the dandy everyone expected. While Pedro might have seemed wild early, I guess we could call it 'effectively wild.' He has thrown 102 pitches, struck out ten and walked none thus far. He's crazy like a fox that Pedro.
Enrique Wilson has two doubles off Martinez. Jason Giambi has two singles and that's all the hits the Yanks have. Fortunately, Giambi drove Wilson home in the sixth to tie the game at one.
Mussina has k'd five and walked none through six.
EXTRA, EXTRA Here is an
Here is an e-mail I just received from a Sox fan detailing the game thus far:
As much as I want to scream bloody murder at Pedro, the description above makes much sense. Although I still say the Sox stink if they can't dominate the Yankee line up today.
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT No, that's
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT
No, that's just how I'm feeling. It's bad enough following the game on-line, but it turns out Soriano and Jeter have left the game early after both were hit in the hand by Martinez in the first inning. Todd Zeile has replaced Ventura at third; Robin is now at second, and Enrique is at short. Too bad Boomer isn't pitching. We might have seen some real fireworks. The Sox have no excuse not to win this game now, while the Yanks have to hope to stay within a run or two by the seventh when Pedro inevitably turns things over to the pen.
PLUMPED UP The Yankees offense
The Yankees offense just got plumper, as Enrique Wilson has replaced Soriano at second. Oy veh. Hang in there boys!
WHA HAPPEN? Both pitchers enjoyed
Both pitchers enjoyed a 3 up, 3 down inning in the second, but Soriano has been lifted from the game. If anyone is watching, give me a shout and let me know what happened to him.
FROZEN The Yankees had runners
The Yankees had runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the first. After striking out Soriano, Pedro was ahead of Jeter, but he plunked him on an inside pitch. Giambi singled, which brought up Ruben Ruben. I took a second to glance at the Yankees line up and saw that after Matsui, the Yanks have Karim Garcia, John Flaherty, Robin Ventura and then Curtis Pride. Not exactly a bomb squad vs. Pedro. Sierra lined out to right, and then Matsui couldn't get the bat off his shoulder, and went down looking. This could be a long afternoon if Mussina doesn't shape up quickly.
THAT SHOULD HOLD 'EM Manny
THAT SHOULD HOLD 'EM
Manny Ramirez had an RBI double in the first off Moose. The Sox lead 1-0. Now if Mussina can make like Pettitte did yesterday and mow 'em down 'til the 8th, the Yanks'll have a fighting chance against Prince P.
ON THE MONEY Like many
ON THE MONEY
Like many of us, Larry Mehnken tends to personalize wins and losses. When the Yanks lose, it can keep him up at night, and when they win, everything is fine with the world. What separates Mehnken from most of us, is that he can live and die with his team, yet still be able to write about them in an even-handed fashion. It doesn't hurt that Mehnken is funny and insightful too. His coverage of the Sox-Yankee Serious has been excellent. Here are two recent pearls of wisdom which caught my eye:
BOMBS AWAY The Red Sox
The Red Sox came into Yankee Stadium on the fourth of July and provided all of the fireworks, walloping the Yanks 10-3. Boston hit seven dingers, five off of Boomer Wells. No team had ever hit more than six homers against New York. Not content with one beating, Boston torched Rocket Clemens on Saturday, and a new Boston Massacre was in the making. Former Yankee Ramiro Mendoza pitched well and the Yankees were humbled on national television.
Would you believe that David Ortiz hit two homers on Friday and Saturday (the first time a visting player has ever accomplished this feat in the Bronx)? Well, it happened.
I watched the first game with my friend Johnny Red Sox, over at his place on the Upper East Side. John was pretty hot when Soriano lead off the game with a pop fly homer, but his mood picked up in no time as the great Boston launching pad took off. The most memorable homer by far was a titanic shot off the bat of Washington Heights' own Manny Ramirez. The ball landed in the left field upper deck. Awww, bacon.
John has HDTV, so at least I was able to see Boston murdalize the Yanks in high-tech clarity.
I missed Saturday's game and it was just as well. The Yankees didn't pitch well, they made errors, and left a ton of men on base. Emily and I visited my brother and his wife at our cousin's summer house. When I went to check the score, I saw that Sterling Hitchcok was pitching, and quite frankly, that's never an encouraging sign. I turned the damn thing off, and attempted to enjoy my weekend.
The Yanks bounced back on Sunday behind a strong performance by Andy Pettitte. Shows how much I know. I figured this would be the one game the Sox would have in the bag. But Pettitte has traditionally faired well against Boston, and after giving up an early homer to Bill Mueller, he settled down, eventually striking out ten. I also failed to consider that the Sox had John Burkett going for them.
The feel-good story of the day was when Curtis Pride, a deaf utility outfielder that the Yankees picked up early this year, started for the banged-up Raul Mondesi, and hit a home run. The Yankees left too many on base again, but Alfonso Soriano (who had three hits) had a big 2 RBI triple late in the game, which helped seal the win for the home team. What was especially encouraging about the at- bat was that Soriano characteristically fell behind 0-2, then worked the count full, before hitting a high-outside fastball into the right centerfield gap.
The series finale should be a good one this afternoon, with Pedro Martinez going against Mike Mussina. I won't be able to watch it, since I'm working, but I will probably follow it on mlb gameday. That should make for a tense, distracting afternoon at the office, huh? The Yankees will feel great about themselves if they can even the series at two, beat Martinez, and maintain the four-game lead they had going into the weekend. The Sox will feel even better about themselves if they can leave New York trailing by only two games, taking three of four. (If the Sox win today they will even the season series with the Yankees at five games apiece.)
Most Red Sox fans will be happy to take three of four, pump their fists quietly, and move on. Kevin Millar, who would be playing in Japan if it wasn't for the efforts of Theo Epstein, wasn't so humble. He had a good time jawing with the Yankee fans before yesterday's game:
Those are the kind of comments that make Red Sox fans cringe. Do us a favor brother, wait until you stomp the Yankees in October before you get too carried away with yourself.
Still, even the most smug, and arrogant Yankee fans should realize this Red Sox team should not be taken lightly. If they can clean up their pitching a bit, they have a team full of 'gamers' who can make a legitimate run down the stretch.
EL BRUHO Ed Cossette had
Ed Cossette had a great post yesterday about El Bruho, Ramiro Mendoza. The Sox will try Mendoza as a starter. Ed wants Dozie to do well in the worst way, and I can't blame him. Mendoza was one of my favorites when he was with the Yankees. I hope he does well too. Just not that well, and not against the Yanks. Dozie will face Rocket Clemens on Saturday.
Here is an exchange Ed and I shared today:
Here is Ed's reply:
How do you like my nerve, going head-to-head with a Red Sox fan in the gloom-and-doom department? Can't say I lack chutzpah, right?
Oh yeah, Ben Jacobs' Universal Baseball Blog (linked on the left) can be counted as a Red Sox site of sorts. Ben will be in New York for one of the games. He also happens to write an exceedingly well-balanced and informative blog that is well worth checking out.
I don't know if I'll be posting during the weekend, but I'll have the wrap up on Monday morning. I hope that everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend.
NERVES I don't know about
I don't know about you, but the tension of a Yanks-Red Sox series leaves me emotionally drained. And that's before the damn thing starts. It's the only time the Yanks play a team where I look for ways to avoid watching the game. I don't take much comfort in the history of the rivalry which says the Yanks will always come out on top. Instead, I always figure since the Yanks have usually won, it's about time the Sox turned the tables. But hey, I'm a pessimist by nature when it comes to these things. Especially when the Sox field as dangerous a team as they have now.
Fortunately, I'm not alone. Here is a portion of an e-mail Brian Cook, who runs the excellent Red Sox Nation blog:
Isn't this supposed to be fun? What are you kidding? Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.
Don't forget to check out the Yankee and Red Sox blogs I have linked on the left hand side of the page, for all the varying perspectives on this classic rivalry. I can promise you, it won't be dull.
WILLIE, MICKEY AND THE DUKE
WILLIE, MICKEY AND THE DUKE
Jane Levy, who wrote the insightful and poignant biography of Sandy Koufax last year, is working on a new book. Actually, before I get to that, Ms. Levy has a novel about a female sportswriter who loves the Yankees called Squeeze Play that is due out next month. (A Bronx Banter chat with Jane is in the works.)
Ms. Levy is currently doing research for her next project, a book about Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snider, and is looking for all the help she can get, so she asked me to pass along a request. Ms. Levy is looking to speak with anybody who was at the famous Bobby Thompson "Shot heard round the world" game; the second game of the '51 World Serious (when Mantle tore up his knee on an exposed drain pipe); Mantle's first pre-season exhibition game vs. the Brooklyn Doders; the game where Duke Snider twisted his knee, as well as anyone who might have ever seen the Say Hey kid playing stickball in the streets of New York.
If anyone out there was at any of these events, or perhaps knows somebody who was, you can contact Ms. Levy at NYCF8@aol.com.
Good looking out.
ALOMAR TRADE HAS A NICE
ALOMAR TRADE HAS A NICE RING TO IT
The Mets finally moved disgruntled future Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar two days ago. He was sent to the Chicago White Sox for three minor leaguers, including a left-handed closer named Royce Ring. I spent most of my idle time dreaming up backpage headlines for Ring yesterday. The move mericifully ends the sad stay of Alomar in Shea. I always enjoyed and revered Alomar when he played for Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland and was excited when he came to the Mets. But he was a bad fit for them and vice versa, and after awhile I just wanted to him to go away, for the his sake and the Mets sake. His play was depressing, and I want to enjoy his game again.
The White Sox added Jurassic Carl Everett too as they make a push in the central.
WARSHED OUT The Yanks got
The Yanks got an unexpected break before the big serious in the Bronx against the Sox this weekend, as yesterday's game in Baltimore was rained out (it will be made up on August 14th). They have an off day today. Brandon Claussen will not start on Saturday after all. Instead, Boomer will pitch Friday, followed by Rocket, Pettitte and then Mussina. Couldn't Claussen pitch instead of Andy? Nah, I guess that's not going to happen. Too bad, cause I figure the Sox will torch Pettitte.
Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus had some interesting comments regarding Claussen in his Under The Knife column a few days ago:
BEAT DOWN Mike Mussina didn't
Mike Mussina didn't make it through the third inning last night and the Yankees fell to the O's, 7-3. Mussina threw 88 pitches, but couldn't locate them very well. On the other hand Rodrigo Lopez pitched admirably, striking out Jason Giambi three times. Lopez had good movement on his fastball, which ran in on the lefties, only to break over the plate at the last moment. Giambi's streak of reaching base ended at 37. Karim Garcia added a late homer, and is now 7-14 as a Yankee.
It wasn't as if the Bombers didn't have their chances. They got on base, but couldn't put together any rallies. Alfonso Soriano has been hitting the ball well. I've noticed that he's taking the ball to right field a lot in the past week or so.
Before the game, Joe Torre announced that Brandon Claussen will get another start, and it's going to be a big one. The rookie will pitch this Saturday against the Red Sox. Clemens will start on the 4th of July (which will mark the 20th anniversay of Rags' no-no vs. Boston at the Stadium), and then Pettitte will pitch Sunday, with Mussina going against Pedro on Monday. Hopefully, Moose got the bad start out of his system. He has a good track record vs. Pedro on Mondays.
Last night's loss didn't seem so bad as the Red Sox threw one away against the D-Rays. According to Bob Holer in the Boston Globe:
The Tigers beat the Blue Jays for the second straight day (?!?!). The Jays have dropped four straight. The Yanks lead the Sox by four, and the Jays by six and a half.
SAY IT AIN'T RO It
SAY IT AIN'T RO
It was hard not to notice last weekend when former Yank Rondell White hit his second grand slam of the year against the Seattle Mariners. What I didn't know was just how good a season Ro is having. While I'm happy for him---he always seemed like a good egg---Rob Neyer points out that the Yanks are the ones wearing the omlette now:
BEHIND ENEMY LINES I had
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
I had some problems with blogger over the weekend and wasn't able to cover everything that went down around the league. But I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the staggering Red Sox-Marlins game last Friday. The Sox, of course, scored ten runs before making an out in the top of the first. Check out Ed Cossette's take over at the revamped Bambino's Curse.
Of course, I was more excited about the Marlins come-from-behind win against the Sox on Saturday. And yes, I did roll my eyes and curse a lot about Gabe Kapler's performance over the weekend. Love it while it lasts, Sox Nation, cause it ain't going to last through September.
Give this to the Red Sox: they have been anything but dull. I don't know the count, but they must have played some of the most dramatic, thrilling, (not to mention heart-breaking) and exciting games in baseball this year. If the could fix the pitching, they could be real trouble for the Yankees and everybody else in the league.
As the Sox gear up for the big weekend serious in the Bronx, they have moved Mr. Kim to the bullpen, hoping to avoid any further bullpen disasters.
BACK IN BUSINESS Christian Ruzich,
BACK IN BUSINESS
Christian Ruzich, who runs The Cub Reporter, is back from his European vacation. Ruzich is one of the best writers in the blog universe, so it sure is good to have him back.
ROLLIN' It's hard to believe
It's hard to believe that last night was the first time the Yankees and Orioles have played all year, but the Yanks started the second half of their season just like they ended the first half: with a win. Baltimore's ace Sidney Ponson outpitched Andy Pettitte early, but Andy escaped jam after jam, and the Yankees chipped away at Ponson. Karim Garcia hit a two-run homer to keep the Yankees close, and when Ponson left the game, with runners on the corners and no out in the seventh, Ruben Ruben bitch-slapped a B.J. Ryan breaking ball for a three-run dinger, which gave the Yankees the lead for good.
The Bombers survived four errors, and the Orioles failed to take advantage of several opportunities, eventually leaving twelve men on base. Mariano Rivera, who is getting his work in plenty these days, got the save in spite of an error by Garcia in left field which cut the Yankee lead to 6-5. Eariler in the game, Garcia did make a sweet shoe-string catch, as well as a nice throw to nail Brook Fordyce at second (the O's catcher was loafing out of the box). But Andy Pettitte made the most memorable play of the night, flipping a comebacker backhand to Posada for a force, after muffing his chance to turn a double play. Derek Jeter, eat your heart out.
The Yanks now lead the Red Sox by four games, and the Jays by six and a half. (Boston had the night off, and the Jays fell to the Tigers.)
The Yankees put disgruntled reserve outfielder Bubba Trammell on the restricted list (which means they don't have to pay him) after Trammell left the team suddenly on Sunday.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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