Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Boo! We Love You!
2006-05-11 05:09
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

After belting a two-run homer into the upper deck in his first at bat, David Ortiz tapped a single through the right side of the infield with two outs in the top of the third. Had the infield been positioned normally, it would have been an easy out, but Ortiz, who has been slumping of late, generally finds a way when playing at the Stadium (he went 4-4 on the night, yet he only hit the ball hard twice..."just" two times, oy). When Ortiz reached first he shared a smile with Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi, who also sees an extreme shift employed when he bats (Giambi would crank a two-run homer of his own in the bottom of the inning). The scene was notable only because it demonstrates that, with a few exceptions, the players on the Yankees and Red Sox are not engaged in the same kind of rivalry that you see and hear in the stands. Yes, I'm sure the players feed off the intensity of the fans, and the hype in the papers, but this isn't 1977 and for the most part, you don't get the feeling that the participants hate one another too tough.

The rivalry has become more about the fans than anything else, and often it brings out the worst in us. The electricity in the crowd--at either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park--is palpable and that brings an acute tension to almost every pitch, every at bat. I think this is great as you just don't see the same kind of excitement elsewhere around the majors for a regular season in game. But the downside is that the crowd entertains itself with lewd chants that have nothing to do with the action on the field. The so-called class acts in the Bronx last night spent a good portion of the game riffing how much the Red Sox suck. C'mon now. I just find it pathetic.

But nobody heard boos last night like Alex Rodriguez did after his second at bat. Rodriguez struck out looking (on three pitches) in the first inning, and then popped out weakly to first base the next time up. The boos showered down on the reigning AL MVP. As Mike Lupica notes in a refreshingly sharp column today, "Sometimes the place isn't nearly as cool as we make it out to be, or want it to be."

Rodriguez turned the jeers into cheers in his third at bat. With the score tied at three, Curt Schilling struck out Derek Jeter and Giambi to start the bottom of the fifth. Both Schilling and Mike Mussina threw a lot of pitches early on. Home plate umpire Larry Vanover wasn't giving either pitcher the outside part of the plate which didn't help them. After escaping a bases loaded jam in the third, Mussina, who was without a good change up last night, began to settle down. Now, Schilling started to roll. He struck out Giambi on a high fastball way out of the zone, a pitch we haven't seen Giambi chase much this year. Down 2-1 to Rodriguez, Schilling shook off a sign from his catcher Jason Varitek and then threw another high fastball. It wasn't as high as the one to Giambi but even so, the high heater is a pitch that Rodriguez has trouble with. However, he locked onto this one, which was centered right over the plate, and crushed it deep into the left field seats.

Rodriguez's dinger put the Bombers ahead for good as the crowd exploded. Hideki Matsui followed and worked Schilling for a walk, running the count full and fouling off several pitches in the process, and then Jorge Posada--who already doubled and has hit Schilling well in the past--popped a hanging change up into the upper deck in right field.

The Red Sox offense didn't help their cause by going down on six pitches in the next inning (the first three batters swung at Mussina's first offering). Boston did put runners on the corners with two out in the seventh for Manny Ramirez though. Scott Proctor came in to pitch to Ramirez, who had a double and a fortunate (re: Happy Birthday), run-saving catch earlier in the game. The 2-1 one pitch was a hanging curve ball. Ramirez fouled it off and then cursed like he generally does when he just misses a pitch. Proctor, who was torched for a three-run dinger not so long ago on a hanging breaking pitch, came back with a high fastball. Ramirez laid off, but then swung through another high heater to end the inning.

After the game, Proctor, who pitched a perfect eighth inning as well, told reporters:

"I'm going to go after him with my strength," said Proctor, who used a 96-mile-an-hour fastball for the strikeout. "In that situation, you don't want to get beat with your second- or third-best pitch. It was big on big."

Nevermind that he got away with hanging a curve ball. Proctor pitched well and has effectively replaced Tanyon Sturtze as the bridge to Farnsworth. Mariano Rivera set the Sox down in order in the ninth and the Yankees bounced back after Tuesday's drubbing. The final score: Yanks 7, Sox 3. Mike Mussina earned his sixth win, Derek Jeter made a fine over the shoulder catch, and Jason Giambi continues to look strong. But it was Rodriguez who was the hero last night (he lined a single to center in his last at bat). He went from goat to hero in a New York minute. It's be nice to seem him more appreciated in the Bronx, but hey, New Yorkers have a long tradition of booing great Yankees--from Ruth to DiMaggio to Mantle (and even Jeter and Rivera). He's in good company.

Comments (75)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-05-11 06:19:49
1.   Felix Heredia
The problem with Yankee fans is that they're spoiled - it's been so good for so long that any individual failure results in booing.

At the home opener, Mike Sweeney was booed as he walked off the field after being hit by a Mariano Rivera pitch. Why? Because the Yankees had made a comeback and the frenzied fans were not going to tolerate anything that interefered with the win.

I almost wish the Yankees stunk for five years so the crowd would get trimmed down to baseball fans (although the drunks will always be present).

2006-05-11 06:22:05
2.   jdsarduy
I'm little surprised that the fans, George and SI are dissing A-Rod.
In an article I can't find now on SI it had the best Yankees ever position by position.
And on 3rd they had Greg Nettles. He was a great fielder but he never hit over 40 home runs, never hit over 280 and never won an MVP. I thought maybe SI was just naming the guys who won a WS with the Yanks but at DH they had Don Baylor. I don't think he's won a WS with the Yanks, has he? Proctor did a hell of job, it was a friend of mine when I worked at Time Inc. who told me watch out for this guy he's going to be good.
2006-05-11 06:24:27
3.   Emy
Look, I like to think of the Yankees as a classy organization, and we are a lot of times...Look no further than the treatment Bernie gets from our fans the past couple of years even though he may be hurting the team a bit by being in the lineup every day.

I have to admit, however, that there is a part of me that enjoys the fact that NY is a tough place to play and our fans will let you know if you are stinking up the joint. This is one of the things that separates us from other cities. We demand the best and will reward you greatly if you succeed. If you win in NY, there is no better place to play.

2006-05-11 06:29:54
4.   Dan M
SI didn't have Toby Harrah at 3rd??
2006-05-11 06:31:09
5.   Barron
It sounded like the fans wanted a curtain call after ARod's HR, and from the dugout cam on him, it looked like he was avoiding it. Maybe I'm just projecting here, but either ARod didn't feel like he deserved the curtain call, or didn't want to pander to the fans that had been booing him all night.
2006-05-11 06:35:36
6.   Knuckles
Funny how Manny took his eye off that ball at the last second (still made a lucky duck catch though) as if he was looking for the warning track, or something shiny.

I noticed Ortiz and Giambi chatting it up at 1st. Also noticed that while Giambi isn't small, Ortiz looks easily twice his size- Jason could stand behind him and you wouldn't see him. Which is odd considering they're within an inch of each other height-wise, and ESPN lists them both at 230. If Ortiz is a pound under 250, I'll eat my hat.

2006-05-11 06:40:44
7.   mikeplugh
The people that boo A-Rod are the same morons that booed Carlos Beltran. Now Beltran has his average up to .291 and he is smoking the ball all over the place. The Mets are as good as they've been in a very long time, and the booing appears to be gone.

I get on Red Sox fans for hating the Yankees more than they love their own team. I can just as easily get on Yankee fans for hating the Yankees more than loving their own team. Let that one sink in for a minute.....

Nevermind the imbecils. Just enjoy the ride.

2006-05-11 06:42:58
8.   Alex Belth

I saw Rodriguez comment on the curtain call thing in one of the papers and he said that considering the situation in the game--a 4-3 lead in the middle innings--a curtain call was not warrented. I agree with him completely. I think doing curtain calls early in the games are ridiculous--and felt that way about Giambi's bow last night.

Take a curtain call in the eighth when you hit a grand slam and put a game away. Otherwise, it's just bad form as far as I see it.

Also, I wrote emotionally this morning about the fans booing. I realize that it is just frustration, and New Yorkers certainly don't have a problem voicing their frustrations. I know I'm a snob about this. I don't mean to say that people don't have a right to boo, and it's wrong of me to think that people should act the way I would. That's pompous on my part. I know New York is a tough town, but for me, it's just uncomfortable to see so many people buying into the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately vibe.

2006-05-11 06:43:38
9.   Alex Belth
"I can just as easily get on Yankee fans for hating the Yankees more than loving their own team."

Ain't it the truth.

2006-05-11 06:50:08
10.   joejoejoe
Big games have the worst crowds. The corporate tickets are all big clients and the walk-up is filled with high dollar scalped tickets. Baseball isn't like a Broadway show where a good play is good every night. The very best ballteams and ballplayers stink out the joint some nights. Being a baseball fan over the course of a season requires patience. Being a jackass for one night does not.
2006-05-11 06:52:57
11.   Sliced Bread
Ahhh, that's more like it.

Great headline and recap, Alex. Really nailed the bi-polar fickleness of us fans, especially with respect to Mr. Rodriguez, who came through magnificently last night. Off the bat, you could almost feel how great that shot must have felt for him.

The home runs by Giambi and Posada off Schilling were just as satisfying, but didn't make me jump to my feet, and exhale like Rodriguez's blast. That was one to remember.

I'll criticize the Yanks when they play bad, but I've never been a boo'er, and I'm with you re: the anti-Boston chants, always been a turn-off for me.

2006-05-11 06:55:08
12.   Murray
Which one is it--is the crowd at Yankees/Red Sox games lousy because it's filled with mouth-breathing drunks who don't find the on-field drama entertaining enough to satisfy them, or is it filled with docile corporate ticketholders who sit on their hands all night? It's definitely not both.

Kunckles, it looks like Ortiz already ate your hat.

2006-05-11 06:55:33
13.   JL25and3
6 You might not be able eat your hat if Ortiz is anywhere in the vicinity.

I was at last night's game and...not to seem elitist or anything, but it was Amateur Night in the stands. They weren't just booing ARod, they were vilifying him - until the home run, of course. Worst of all: throughout the game, when there was action on the field, half the fans in our section kept standing up to look up into the stands to see a fight, or security, or something. Those of us who wanted to watch a ballgame were S.O.L.

2006-05-11 06:55:57
14.   mikeplugh
It's like the old Chris Rock bit from "Roll With the New"...

Who's more racist, black people or white people? Black people...'cause we hate black people too.

Who's more anti-A-Rod, Red Sox fans or Yankee fans? Yankee fans, cause we hate Yankees too.

2006-05-11 07:14:01
15.   hensley
I'm resistant to these claims of making all the "bad" fans be the "other guys," while we more rational people can stand apart as the "true fans." I mean, sure, I'm not out there yelling at Manny, calling him gay, or chucking beer at Papelbon, but I feel like I can be just as irrational and overall rat-bastard-y as the best of them. There's something about this rivalry that is mass hysteria inducing. The last four seasons have been basically unbearable. I mean, a month into the season and THEY'RE STILL BASICALLY TIED IN FIRST! How can that be??? It's excruciating, and the fans feel that and get whipped up about it, and let it out in all kinds of bad ways. Eh, at least they're not rioting or killing A-Rod for making an error, like they do to goalies in Columbia for letting a shot go through.
2006-05-11 07:19:34
16.   Shaun P
7 9 Amen to that!

Alex, you have a right to voice your opinion too 8, and I for one don't think you were snobbish or pompous at all. I took your words not to mean that everyone should act as you say, but that it would be better if they did. And you're right - we'd all be better off if "________ Suck" chants/t-shirts were sent to the dustbin of history.

1 Felix, I had the same thought last night. I think that's why I'm much more relaxed about the Yanks than my dad - he was a kid in the 50s, I was a kid in the late 80s/early 90s - you get a lot of perspective from watching a bad team.

2006-05-11 07:25:20
17.   joejoejoe
12 It can be both.

Corporate tickets percolate down to serious fans for series like the Royals. For the Red Sox corporate seats will often go to big clients who value the "event" over the competition. They don't know baseball but they may have heard how "rowdy" the Stadium can be and they act the part (and the fool) to participate in the event. The same rationale applies to brokered tickets - they value one game far out of proportion to the others by their actions - paying a premium for a game that counts the same as any other. So while a regular fan readily accepts the best players will fail often and hope to see 50+ ABs of their favorites in any given season - the group of buddies in town for one game act cheated if an individual has a bad game. Finally, my experience at the Stadium indicates that the overlap of corporate ticket users and mouth-breathing drunks is substantial.

Just my 2 cents.

2006-05-11 07:31:48
18.   tocho
what? no red sox fans this morning on the banter? how can that be?
2006-05-11 07:47:16
19.   Cliff Corcoran
I just love that Rodriguez got the front cover of the Post today. The photo is of him in his follow-through watching the ball in its arc and there's a wicked little grin on his face. The headline: "Take That Boss." Should be "Take That 'Fans'" as far as I'm concerned.

As for the curtain call, I was just watching it on TV, but I don't think the fans called for it all that much. Had one of the "true Yankees" hit that shot they would have chanted his name for ten minutes.

8 Alex, don't apologize for giving your opinion on the matter. Never mind that you're dead right, last I checked folks come here to (among other things) get your opinion on these matters.

12 It's a big stadium, I guarantee you both types of fans, as well as some of us "enlightened" types, were there in large numbers. One of my pet peeves is when people generalize about a fanbase. Saying all Yankee fans do X or all the fans at the Stadium last night were Z is like saying all [ethnicity/race] are [character trait/behavior]. You wouldn't paint yourself with that brush, would you?

That said, 15 Hensley, you just might be a "bad" fan. I'm kidding, but you can't serisouly be stressing out about a tie in the standings in early May. I mention it in my posts because I think it's entertaining how well matched these teams have been since 2002, but as long as the Yanks are within a few games of first, you can't really start to sweat the standings until August. There's just too much baseball left to be played.

Having said all of that, there are two things about last night's game I can't figure out:

1) Why was Rivera pitching the ninth against the bottom of the Boston order with a four-run lead? Joe needs to have Mo get Willie Harris, Alex Gonzalez and J.T. Snow despite having his best bullpen in years? I didn't expect him to go to Mo for Manny in the seventh, and Proctor did the job, but once that threat was ended, so did the need to have Mo pitch at all, even if he had had the last two days off.

2) Why did Bubba go in as a defensive replacement late in the game? Again, four-run lead, is this really the message you want to send to a 21 year old kid who could have a future with the organization: "We think your defense could blow a four-run lead"? Also, it's the smallest of samples, but after tearing up AAA, Melky went 2 for 4 with a walk in his first five plate appearances, so they have him bunt a man to third with a three run lead in the sixth in his next trip? Even when he plays 'em, Joe finds a way to limit their ability to succeed. Amazing.

2006-05-11 07:50:58
20.   Cliff Corcoran
19 #2 should say "a defensive replacement for Melky."
2006-05-11 07:51:53
21.   joejoejoe
After Posada hit his dinger my 77-year old mom said "He runs like DiMaggio" as he rounded the bases. She had a hard time explaining why she thought that but I gathered it was because of the way he kind of swept his feet forward in his stride - more like sliding then running knees up. It was just cool to hear Posada mentioned with an all-time great, if only for a moment. I believe Posada is underappreciated by many - he's been an elite catcher for almost a decade decade.
2006-05-11 07:54:24
22.   Shawn Clap
You can't believe that a game against the Royals "counts the same" as a game against the Sox. Last night was not only a win for the Yanks, but also a loss to the division rival. That's two full games played in 9 innings.

Also, I have to disagree with the general sentiment that rowdy fans can't also be "true baseball fans". Sure there will always be those who wish baseball fans would carry themselves with an air of quiet dignity like tennis fans, but thank goodness that will never happen.

If a fan pays $40 for a nosebleed seat, it's thier moral duty to boo "The Thirdbaseman" if they believe he's just phoning it in. And then they are bound (by a karma-like contract) to go nuts when he delivers in a big spot.

2006-05-11 07:56:25
23.   vockins
My wife, from New Zealand, with no exposure to baseball culture until she met me, made an interesting observation a while ago - "Yankees fans root for the Yankees to win, Red Sox fans root for the Yankees to lose." Surely there are exceptions to that, but I thought she had a good point. It seems like us Yank fans might be getting some of that disease, though.
2006-05-11 07:59:41
24.   YankeeInMichigan
"Yes, I'm sure the players feed off the intensity of the fans, and the hype in the papers, but this isn't 1977 and for the most part, you don't get the feeling that the participants hate one another too tough."

Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS looked an awful lot like 1977. (At least Bill Lee didn't knock over a coach.)

2006-05-11 08:05:25
25.   Dan M
With all the roster turnover on both sides, what happened between the two in 2003 is ancient history at this point.
2006-05-11 08:07:27
26.   Dimelo
I come to the banter to get Rob Gee's opinion on why the Yanks should have gotten Crazy Uncle Milton. Gee-Money...I just couldn't resist.

Oh man...what a difference a day makes, ehh? We are all so happy and everything is right in the world. We definitely live in a Yankee universe.

Cliff, right on about us coming here for your opinion and Alex's too.

Lastly, Sawx fans were making a big thing about hammering the Yanks on Tuesday, but I just took it as a bad loss because we didn't play well, didn't pitch well, didn't do anything well. I was glad to read this piece on the hardball times.
Scroll down to "Tuesday's Red Sox/Yankees game was WPA-crazy".

Alex, I know you were impressed with Beckett but I really wasn't and the reason was because the game got so out of hand. Not saying Beckett can't be impressive, but if it was a close game and the Yanks lost then I feel his start would have meant more to me.

2006-05-11 08:13:04
27.   standuptriple
8 Excellent point about the standing O. Save it for late and in this day and age I'm not even sure when "late" is.
The "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately vibe" is everywhere and a plague that needs to be contained. It's almost as if the majority of fans have etch-a-sketch memories. Once they move they are erased. I just wish some perspective could be applied. Remember how Jeter was hitting two-bucks last year? Well, he finished .309 a won a Gold Glove. It's a long season, but I guess when you only have enough scratch to make it to a ballgame 3 times a season you have to run the whole gammut of emotions in what few sittings you get. I agree, if you want to boo, it's your right, but consider that there might be others around that take offense to you bashing their/your team. Consideration for your fellow man, where has that gone?
2006-05-11 08:15:57
28.   Cliff Corcoran
24 Yeah, I have to say, the Ortiz-Giambi conversation aside, I've heard a lot of comments from the players in recent years essentially saying that it was a fan's rivalry for a while, but there's been increasing animosity between the players in recent years. I think it's the old-schoolers like Bernie and Mo who have noted the shift.

Certainly a number of guys didn't dig on Pedro and he's gone, but I don't think Rodriguez and Varitek are gonna go out for dinner any time soon. Nixon and Sturtze won't be double dating after tonight's game. Pretty sure Jorge still has some hard feelings. You know Schilling wants to beat the Yanks real bad. Mo's a cool customer, but you know that "Boston ownes you" stuff is in the back of his head somewhere fueling the fire each time he faces them. The Championship likely took the sting of Boone out of Wakefield's behind, but you know he's still got some of the poison in him. Jeter grew up a Yankee fan and he and Bernie have been through all of this, so you know they feel it when they face them.

No, I think this rivalry is definitely on the field as well as in the stands.

2006-05-11 08:22:53
29.   hensley
19 Cliff, you can't seriously be contending that people, on this very message board even, aren't stressing out a bit more because Yanks and Sox are tied in early May. A quick read through the hundreds of comments the last couple nights disproves that notion. It may be irrational, but it's there, and that irrationality is as much a part of fandom as dispassionate number crunching, or Steve Goldman's profession to admire baseball "excellence in all its forms" apart from simply wanting his team to win.
2006-05-11 08:32:09
30.   Sliced Bread
19 I think Joe went with Mo and Bubba simply to shut the door on the Red Sox.
He went with his best options to close out the game.

I wouldn't worry about Melky's feelings over being replaced by Crosby. I imagine Torre explained or will explain the move to Melky at some point. Boosting Bubba's confidence might have been part of Joe's decision too.

I also liked his small ball call for Melky's sac bunt, trying to manufacture another run, up 3 in the 6th. Melky's first attempt was ugly, but the kid got the job done and was duly congratulated by his teammates.

The Yanks did nothing right on Tuesday, and almost everything right on Wednesday. Nothing washes away a bitter defeat like a sweet victory.

2006-05-11 08:34:00
31.   Cliff Corcoran
29 I didn't say people weren't stressing out, I was just implying that doing so is, as you say, irrational. The dissonance here is that you're fine with that irrationality, where as my work on this site is geared toward generating rational thought and discussion.
2006-05-11 08:35:17
32.   tocho
Re: Melky. In these two games he has looked fine with the bat. In general he has had good at-bats (terrible bunter though) v. very good pitchers (arguably two of the 5 best in the league). He's a competent batter.

on the field though, he seems very tentative, not fluid at all. reading through his scouting reports they all rave about his defense but I just don't see it (yet). it can probably be due to his shift to RF.


2006-05-11 08:36:40
33.   Cliff Corcoran
30 But what's the explanation (to Melky) other than: "Your defense isn't good enough."?

Question: If the wind doesn't blow that ball over his head on Tuesday, does Torre make that replacement last night?

2006-05-11 08:41:43
34.   Sliced Bread
33 That's a good question. I'm leaning toward thinking the move had more to do with boosting Bubba's confidence than a lack of confidence in Melky. I think Joe would have made that replacement regardless of the wind blown E.
2006-05-11 08:47:21
35.   Cliff Corcoran
34 So why not replace Damon or Matsui? If he feels confident enough in the win to replace Giambi and he wants to get Bubba in there . . .

All of that said, 32 tocho, Melky looked just awful in center in his six games last year, he misjudged anything hit on a line, with balls going over his head at the Stadium, and turning a Trot Nixon single into an inside-the-park homer in Fenway. If he looks bad, it's not right field, though one might wonder if it's playing in a park with a second deck.

2006-05-11 08:57:34
36.   weeping for brunnhilde
30 His second attempt was ugly too, uglier than the first, even, but it all worked out.

Has anyone noticed Jeter these days? Is it just me or is he hitting a lot more hard line drives the other way than he has in recent years? He seems to be hitting a lot more bullets than grounders up the middle and he's not doing that exasperating 5-3 groundout so much.

Has his approach changed?--because I'm seeing a Jeter ca. 1999 these days.

And speaking of bullets, man I love that Cano. You see him last night? (I think it was last night, maybe the night before though.) Just spraying the ball all over the joint?

Sigh, we'll probably trade him for Javier Vasquez or Jeff Weaver or someone before long. Enjoy him while we've got him, folks.

And Melkie? Every one of his at-bats has been quality. The kid hangs in there, has a nice approach, appears to be a cool customer (working that walk off of Schilling was so nice.) and hits the ball where it's pitched.

I'd like to see Sheff on the DL for a longer time to just let this kid get a chance to do his thing because he brings more balance to the team. It's guys like him and Cano and Jeter and Damon who can succeed despite dominant starting pitching and it's their approach we'll need at playoff time. Also, it's so much more fun to watch guys spray the ball around than it is to watch the long ball. But perhaps I'm showing my age. :)

Oh, and that ball Derek hit, I think against Beckett? That Manny (I guess it was?) ran down? (Not Damon's ball, but one hit where the fielder had to cover a lot of lateral ground to run it down.) It called instantly to mind that ball Derek hit in '02 in like the seventh with guys on that (Anderson, was it?) ran down to save the game. That catch was one of the most painful moments in recent postseason years, in my mind.

And how 'bout that Moose, eh? He labored and he got it done. That performance is the kind that wins postseason games as well. He just gritted it out and got it done. Hats fucking off, Mike Mussina.

Sigh if only RJ would humble himself long enough to learn something about how to win despite getting knocked around early.

Memo to Johnson, *Hello?--your approach is not working! Time to try something new!

2006-05-11 09:04:45
37.   Shawn Clap
I haven't seen enough of Melky in the field, but he seems to be suffering from "Jim Abbott Syndrome" (fielding the ball with only one hand). That approach might have worked for Rickey Henderson, but I hate to see a 21 year-old fall into lazy habits. They ought to nip that in the bud.
2006-05-11 09:06:07
38.   Sliced Bread
35 If you're looking to get Bubba into the game and deploy your best outfield defense, replacing Melky's the way to go, no?
2006-05-11 09:07:29
39.   tocho
35 second deck... you're probably right.

It also might be that with his errors on the field (the nixon single, the dropped ball, etc), he has too much time to think before catching the ball and doesn't want to screw it up and tightens up. Not fluid at all

2006-05-11 09:16:31
40.   Cliff Corcoran
38 Dunno about Melky yet. Matsui's not exactly Pittsburgh-era Barry Bonds out there, I think replacing him would improve things as much if not more than replacing Melky.
2006-05-11 09:20:15
41.   wsporter
19 Ah Cliff, you had to throw that little bit in about the bunt last night. I hope you accept these comments in the collegial spirit with which they are intended. I can understand nit picking strategy yet I have a hard time doing so when: A/ the strategy (playing for one run with a three run lead and that particular number 9 hitter up) worked and B/ the game was won. As to you're point about standing in the way of success, Melky did get the bunt down successfully, doesn't that count? Won't that help lead to his feeling an increased degree of comfort at the ML level. It was a small successful step for the kid. After a night of reflection I still can't simply dismiss the strategy as "wrong" on the levels you suggest. It was one way to play it given the situation. Were there other ways? Yes, but that doesn't render the one chosen "wrong".

The resulting probabilities shift indicates the strategy, when followed, may lead to an increased probability of a single run being scored. It also decreases the probability of scoring multiple runs in the inning. However the downside alternative (in last nights game situation) was a runner standing on 2nd with one out because that number 9 hitter failed to advance him with a productive out or hit, thereby decreasing the probability of scoring either one or multiple runs.

That I think points out the obvious weakness in the Markov chain analysis in that it treats all batters as equal in terms of their likelihood to succeed or fail in a given at bat. It is imperative, when performing the analysis in a real world situation, that what you "know" be employed to weight the analysis appropriately. If it were Damon, Jeter, Cano, Giambi, Matsui, Posada etc coming up there is no way you sacrifice in that situation. The expected return of playing for multiple runs outweighs the alternate strategy. With Melky up Mr. Torre clearly was of the opinion that he could maximize his expected return by playing for one run. He apparently didn't feel that expected return would shift significantly if he brought in an available pinch hitter. It was, I still think, a wholly defensible strategy.

2006-05-11 09:21:35
42.   standuptriple
37 I distictly saw Melky do the textbook two-handed catch on a 3rd out last night. It was a blatent "look coach, I listened and will obey" move. I have no problem with making rookies, however highly touted, execute the fundamental aspects of the game before they earn an everyday spot in the lineup.
2006-05-11 09:23:54
43.   dpmurphy
Moose simply had more than schilling last night, and giambi is amazing. Of course, Francona was brain dead for not playing willie mo on the basis of 13 ABs for Harris.

"Emy: I have to admit, however, that there is a part of me that enjoys the fact that NY is a tough place to play and our fans will let you know if you are stinking up the joint. This is one of the things that separates us from other cities. We demand the best and will reward you greatly if you succeed."

Complete nonsense. Way to spin it though. First, boston is just as tough to play in, and will make you a hero if you win. NY isn't special in that regards. Also, booing Arod was pitiful, just like the booing of damon in boston. Then cheer? Wow.

"tocho: what? no red sox fans this morning on the banter? how can that be?"

28 comments in on a thursday morning? Wait all night to say that?

"vockins:My wife, from New Zealand, with no exposure to baseball culture until she met me, made an interesting observation a while ago - "Yankees fans root for the Yankees to win, Red Sox fans root for the Yankees to lose." Surely there are exceptions to that, but I thought she had a good point. It seems like us Yank fans might be getting some of that disease, though."

That line has been said so many times it's practically a cliche. There was truth there at one time, today, not so much. You can hear the 'redsox suck' chants' and people even on boards like this use red sux and twist sox players names. It's over.

"Dimelo: Alex, I know you were impressed with Beckett but I really wasn't and the reason was because the game got so out of hand. Not saying Beckett can't be impressive, but if it was a close game and the Yanks lost then I feel his start would have meant more to me."

You're kidding me right? That's a funny thing to say. The reason it got out of hand is because beckett WAS impressive and RJ was not. A two run homer/mistake in the first and then 7 innings of one run ball and you're not impressed. Keep those fan googles tight.

2006-05-11 09:26:03
44.   Sliced Bread
40 but then you'd be sacrificing Matsui's bat, which, of course hasn't been 2001 Bonds lately, but which is more proven than Melky's in case the Red Sox rally late in the game, which has been known to happen.
2006-05-11 09:33:07
45.   brockdc
Living in L.A., I don't get out to The Stadium but once a year these days. Thank God, though. I was back for a 3-game set against the Angels last July, and was deeply disturbed by how the fans at the stadium seem to be one of two extremes: Irascible drunkards or corporate heads. I realize I'm painting with a broad brush here, but, honestly, when I was a kid, I recall a much broader demographic that included families and old-timers (poised with their scorecards). Maybe it's my mid-30s nostalgia kicking in, but things seem different now.
2006-05-11 09:33:19
46.   Cliff Corcoran
41 I never said the bunt was "wrong," only that I disagreed with it. As for dismissing my criticism because the run scored and the game was won, had I offered the same criticism and the run not scored and the game was lost, you could just as easily have dismissed what I had to say as second guessing: "Would you criticize that move if Bernie scored and they won?" Yes, yes I would.

As for your final paragraph, it was a defensable strategy, and you defend it very well, but we're going to have to agree to disagree here. My argument is that we don't know how likely Mekly is to move that runner over via a productive out or a hit because he's only had five prior plate appearances in the majors thus year, but looking at those five plate appearances he has two singles (one of which drove in a run) and a walk. I take my chances there. If the kid comes through, it's an even bigger confidence booster than laying down a successful bunt.

The one counter argument here you've passed over actually goes to the opposite extreme of emphasizing the importance of that single run, and that is that Torre had Melky bunt to see if he could, figuring with a three run lead he could experiment a little. That's the argument I'd be most receptive to here.

2006-05-11 09:38:05
47.   Cliff Corcoran
44 I wouldn't have bothered with Bubba myself, but my argument is that if it's okay to take out Giambi, who's tearing the cover off the ball, it's okay to take Matsui, who's still slumping, out to improve your defense.
2006-05-11 09:41:04
48.   bp1
Encouraging since for me last night? Giambi's swinging strike out. I know - that might sound weird - but it was an aggressive swing and it tells me he wants to swing. As they said on the TV, he's "locked in", and it doesn't seem just like announcer nonsense. He does appear to be on the ball and eager to swing, a sure sign that his confidence is way high.

I like it.


2006-05-11 09:42:28
49.   DarrenF
Alex, great post. You can be as pompous as you want because you're better than most Yankee fans. Not to sound all crotchety, but one of my first baseball memories was applauding Frank White for an outstanding defensive play. I don't recall ever booing a Yankee in my life. Jokingly boing with friends, of course, but not with such vitriol as Yankee fans treat the AL MVP. Spoiled, indeed.
2006-05-11 09:42:31
50.   vockins
43I guess I need to get out more.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-05-11 09:52:03
51.   Jeteupthemiddle
I would just like to point out that even though Mussina didn't have all his stuff last night, he still had a Quality Start. Every start he has had as been a Quality Start. His ERA went UP to 2.56 last night. I love watching him pitch.
2006-05-11 09:59:56
52.   Cliff Corcoran
48 The guys hitting .314/.531/.779 and you're encouraged by a swinging K? Wow. I think even Mattpat11 would be impressed by that.

Meanwhile, 49 I'm not opposed to booing, but I save my venom for guys like Aaron Boone, Enrique Wilson, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, Tanyon Sturtze and Tony Womack. Yankee fans who can resist booing that lot are either better people, or paying less attention than I. To counter that point, much as I cringe at Bernie's presense in the line-up this year, I stand and applaud him with everyone else.

2006-05-11 10:03:15
53.   standuptriple
51 I hear you. I'm happy to say I've enjoyed him since his days "on the farm" (Stanford). Even when he doesn't have his best stuff I can tell he's always "pitching".
2006-05-11 10:09:34
54.   brockdc
36 I've been wondering the same thing. It's got to be more than simply his new position in the batting order, no?

And yeah, Cano hits absolute BB's. He's the one Yankee who I'll drop everything for just so I can see his ABs. It's encouraging to see him spraying the ball like he does.

2006-05-11 10:13:38
55.   wsporter
46 Sorry Cliff and I know I'm being a bit of a bulldog about this but I had read "Oh, and screw the bunt here. Bad move." to mean "wrong"

Nice points and we'll agree to disagree. I find it ironic that the "Melky proving himself with a bunt" point is the one you like best in support of the sacrifice strategy. I honestly didn't mention it because I thought you'd focus on it and use it to hammer me with what I was going to present as a minor point. Life and argument can be weird.

Anyway Cliff and Alex, despite the dissonance, this site seems to work best on two levels: 1/ it's a great place for Yankees fans to come together and share some humor, insight and passion and 2/ it is an accommodating spot on the net where new ideas, information and analysis can be traded and brooded over by those interested. Both the emotional and intellectual sides of things coalesce to form an informative and worthwhile exchange of ideas in what I hope is usually a good natured way. Despite some of the occasional nastiness this has become an interesting place to check into on a regular basis.

I had taken a season or so off from looking in here. I started looking back in last August and started writing again in October. I'm glad I did. From my grandfather to me it's 86 solid years of Yankees fandom in the family. I can only imagine what he would have thought of this. Thanks gentlemen for all your work on this.

2006-05-11 10:13:52
56.   tocho
what is/was more satisfying for a yankee fan, in a boston series:

a) beating Schilling as the yanks did yesterday, or
b) beating Pedro during 2002-2004
c) ...

2006-05-11 10:14:51
57.   Emy
dpmurphy (#43) - Sorry, just the way I feel. Stating the obvious here, but I think players understand that booing is just a fan's way of venting their frustration (not hatred), just like cheering is a fan's way of expressing a "job well done." I see it as nothing more than that. New Yorkers just happen to have the pills to let a player know about it when they are not doing the job. With that said, I don't think A-Rod deserved to be booed last night.

standuptriple (#42)- I was sitting in SEC. 39 last night...I heard a few Bleacher Creatures reminding Melky to "use two hands" as the ball approached him on that play.

2006-05-11 10:20:34
58.   Rob Gee
Call me crazy but I love coming this site. Thanks so much Alex and Cliff. Good stuff and great, thoughtful peeps.

Now that I can wipe the sniffle from my eye, after a crazy work morning - good to stop by.

2 I saw the same thing and I'm thinking - my god - how does A-Rod not make an All-Yankee team ahead of Nettles? Guess he's not a 'true' Yankee yet. All in good time and a HOF Yankee. Too bad Jorge got stiffed early in his career - it's crazy to realize but he could have bested most of Yogi's numbers. I know, different eras - but still.

26 Oh, you missed my argument for MIL-ton!? Let me tell you....It all begins with this particular GM...

40 I with you on Matsui's D - for a former CF, he gets turned around ALOT. Funny that Matsui and Damon will both be in their last contract year together - that OF defense should be very interesting. Do you flip coins to see who's the DH?

41 Agree on the Melky bunt. They might have asked him to do it to see if he could. I know, silly reason, but Torre likes testing these little things at this point in the year. Luckily for us, he hasn't scratched the "Myers to righty because another lefty is coming up next in a crucial situation" itch yet. But I take it as a positive - in 6 AB's the kid's got 2 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 Sac. That's a nice round line. Here's hoping he keeps it up. Wow, nice pickup indeed (wood knock).

And wsport, did you really throw out "Markov chain analysis" in the Banter? Rock on!

46 Agreed. I think that's exactly why Torre had the kid bunt. I seem to remember him doing the same thing with Cano last year.

Seriously though - with Alex's great, and well-justified, intro - what's worse the fans with whiplash or the writers? I say the latter cause they're paid to come up with something creative and they all mailed in the same story after Tuesday night. The former are at least paying good money to experience the game however they want 22.

2006-05-11 10:28:27
59.   Shaun P
56 c) Winning the games, no matter who was on the mound.

Just speaking for myself - I like the wins more than anything else. The opponent is irrelevant.

So New Yorkers, what's the word on tonight's weather? Last night the forecasts for tonight weren't good. Any change?

2006-05-11 10:31:29
60.   Dimelo
dpmurphy 43, Obviously you missed my point and didn't visit the link I pasted. If you don't consider a 8 run lead before the home team comes up to bat (in the 5th inning) as an indicator that the game is getting out of control, then I don't know what to tell you. If the roles were reversed, it would be hard to take much out of Unit's start too because the other team wasn't bringing their 'A' game. Stuff like that happens and it's not Beckett's fault, but it's much easier to pitch when you can walk the bases loaded, allow a grand slam, and still have a 4 run. That is not the definition of a high pressure situation, it's a blowout.

If the first set of errors happened and the game remained 5 - 2 and Beckett mows them down then I would say he pitched darn good. I'm simply saying until he has a close game against the Yanks (this year), then that would give me a better indicator about Beckett. If he pitches against the Yanks and the Blow-Sox keep beating the Yanks badly then he's doing a fine job and you give him his props at that point. But I won't make a big deal out of one start, wherein that one start was a blowout. Don't make him out to be Cy Young.

2006-05-11 10:35:35
61.   Shaun P
BTW and if it gets lost with the new thread, I'll repost it -

Will Carroll over at BP breaks down what's going on with the Unit. Its a free article and a great read - you figure the Yanks have to know this, right?

I'll be watching Unit's jersey when next he throws.

2006-05-11 10:35:51
62.   Alex Belth
Hey, thanks for the compliments you guys. I wanted to create a sense of community here at Bronx Banter from the get-go. That's why I try to be fair when writing about the Red Sox, and when I'm heated, I try and keep it specific to my feelings. But I've found that I've learned so much from you guys--both Yankee fans, Sox fans, and anyone else.

Then, when I was swamped with writing my book on Curt Flood, I wanted someone to help out and I though Cliff would be ideal. We have different takes on things, different styles, but they are complimentary. Steven Goldman said we were like peanut butter and jelly. Cliff corrected that to peanut butter and chocolate (hey, your peanut butter is in my chocolate!), but you get the pernt.

The fact that you guys keep reading, and that some of you love to add your two cents to the mix, is what makes this site a success.

2006-05-11 10:49:03
63.   Barron
Alex, I've got no problem with ARod's curtain call reasoning. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't seeing things that weren't there.

Also, I'll echo the Cano & Jeet comments. They're both killing the ball. Pauly had a nice breakdown about Cano's Boggs-y single into LF last night. Lots of talk about the bat staying in the hitting zone for the whole swing. When Sheff gets back (please wait until it's really healed, Gary) Cano becomes the best #8 in baseball.

2006-05-11 10:54:27
64.   wsporter
61 MFD That is specifically, not so very good. I hope WC is a victim of some really bad MLB video, if not it sounds like Johnson is pitching himself onto the DL or worse.

I hope he works through whatever is ailing him. If not, the "you had to have him" fingers are going start pointing. $15 million a year and everything that went in the trade; Oh my. If he is really hurt someone will hold us up for half the Farm System for a decent replacement. Anyone know how Gator's slider looks?

2006-05-11 11:12:46
65.   bp1
52 Probably sounded stupid, but Giambi seems more aggressive these past few games, especially last night. He was in a slight swoon for awhile, still getting his walks but was something like 1-for-21 or some such thing.

He looked scary good last night, and that swinging strike looked to me like a guy who is eager and ready to swing the bat, not just accept a walk. Walks are good, of course, but I like it when he's aggressive and wants to swing.

He is SO FAR removed from last year at this time when he was begging for ball four that it is almost startling. He's one scary batter at the moment.


2006-05-11 11:22:07
66.   Emy
Yes, great site Alex!

I am a long time reader of this site and have only recently started posting. It actually took me a while to check out the comments section of this site because I assumed it would be much of the same old trashing and trolling on other baseball-related message boards which I grew tired of long ago.

It didn't take me long to realize that, although opinions may differ, the regulars here are intelligent fans that generally have respect for each other. It's quite refreshing!

I like to think of baseball as both and art and a science and I think Alex and Cliff compliment each other well in that regard.

This is my first stop online every morning...keep up the great work, guys!

2006-05-11 12:22:09
67.   tocho
62 66 in the words of wisdom:

"thank you for making this site necessary"

2006-05-11 12:39:26
68.   Shaun P
64 MFD, if they don't get the farm system to get help, they might do something worse and try to rush Hughes. Of course, if the Astros fall out of race and Clemens decides to stay retired, I wonder what three months of Andy Pettitte - and half his $17 mil salary - would cost?

I'm hoping that Unit will get some more grease for his knee, and it will solve the problem. If that doesn't work, I'd like to think Gator, Kerrigan, and Unit are smart enough to figure out a way for RJ to survive without him destroying his arm.

2006-05-11 12:47:31
69.   wsporter
68 MFD oh boy I share your hopes. But when the legs go the arm seems to follow. If it were a tired or a sore shoulder I'd feel a lot better (boy does that sound weird). I sure hope WC is wrong.

Handy Andy might look good. If he comes do you think Rocket might follow or vice-versa?
I wonder what that might cost in terms of $ and kids?

2006-05-11 12:50:46
70.   Shaun P
69 MFD low cost on Pettitte I'd hope, since its the last year of his deal and it would save the Astros some major cash. But no way it happens if they're competitive - he's one of their best bargaining chips for getting Clemens back, besides being a great pitcher in his own right.

Now, if Clemens just came back to the Yanks anyway, Pettitte might not be needed . . . but I doubt this is an option.

2006-05-11 13:10:55
71.   wsporter
70 MFD yeah the story I heard out of Houston is that Andy is a major attraction there for Rocket; that he has become his de-facto pitching coach (not sure if I buy that but there it is) They (R. Justice) made it sound like they were in lock step on this. Given the way the two moved to Houston together I guess it may not be so far fetched. Do you think there is anything to them moving together as a package deal? Not that there's anything wrong with that or that Houston would choose to look at it that way.
2006-05-11 13:28:11
72.   Zack
Ok, I ASked this before and didn't get an answer, and I'm probably just being stupid, but whats the "MFD" all about?
2006-05-11 13:57:18
73.   Shaun P
72 A few weeks ago during one of the pizza discussions that seem to spring up around here, wsporter and I discovered that we both graduated from the same college, Union. Union's teams are known as the Dutchmen (Dutchwomen for the ladies), so MFD is just short for "My Fellow Dutchman".

No worries, Zack - I don't think I noticed last night, or I would have answered then.

2006-05-11 15:37:13
74.   IowaBoy
This is my first post, so please be gentle. As a Yankee fan for decades, it is really nice to be able to view this forum with knowledgeable Yankee fans. Thanks to XM, I can now listen to every Bomber game.

I think most people do not give Arod his due. Unless he gets injured ala Griffey, he will likely become one of the greatest players of all time.

Keep up the good work Alex, Cliff and all. I don't get on the internet without looking up the Toaster.

2006-05-11 15:49:06
75.   wsporter
This thread seems to be fading in terms of comment, (although welcome aboard IowaBoy), so I'll post this hear so as not to go off the reservation on the active threads.

For anyone who cares Floyd Patterson passed away today. He sort of faded away and became quite ill over the last few years but he was a central figure in the NY sports world for a long time. He may have been more memorable for the fights he lost than those he won (although beating Archie Moore for the title was no mean feat).

He was famously knocked silly by Ingemar Johansson in 1959, (although he crushed him in the return bout) the brutal double 1st round destructions at the hands of Sony Liston as well as the beating Ali gave him in the "rabbit fight" were also ugly 'milestones' that became legendary for their shear savagery.

Little by little these guys seem to disappear without much notice or comment as their lives draw to a close. Somehow I wish there was more for them than simply oblivion and a Web page obit at Newsday. It seems somehow out of balance with what they gave us.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.