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2006-05-30 06:19
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Funny what pitching in Comerica Park can do for a pitcher's disposition. Randy Johnson had some of the old juice in him yesterday--he brushed back at least two Tiger hitters, as the Yanks won the first of a four game series, 4-0. It was the third straight win for New York (who beat the Royals 15-4 on Saturday, and 6-5 on Sunday). Fly balls that have been going over the wall recently against Johnson found their way into the gloves of his outfielders. According to Tyler Kepner:

"It's one game," Johnson said. "My career wasn't over after a few bad ones. It doesn't mean anything because I threw a good one. It just means I'm back on track to where I should be. That's all."

...Detroit stacked nine right-handed hitters against Johnson, who induced more groundouts to third base (six) than strikeouts (four). The Tigers' Brandon Inge noticed that Johnson was throwing more off-speed pitches than normal.

"That's something I haven't seen from him in a long time," Inge said. "To me, that shows he's pitching. He's not trying to blow it past you anymore. But he still has it when he wants to reach back."

It's a start. It will be interesting to see how Johnson fares against the Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend.

Comments
2006-05-30 06:45:18
1.   monkeypants
I suspect that part of the reason why some of the "fly balls that have been going over the wall recently against Johnson found their way into the gloves of his outfielders" is because Comerica is so cavernous. I don't know how accurate Gameday is, but the hit chart shows a few of the Tigers' outs were spanked pretty deep.
2006-05-30 06:46:17
2.   bp1
I saw the post game interview with Big Unit. I kept thinking "getting answers from this guy is like trying to grow grass on rocks". Geez. He simply refuses to play the Q&A game. It's like torture to watch - and I have to admit - it makes it hard to root for the guy. He comes off as a real jerk sometimes.

Kevin Brown was more likeable than this guy. Geez.

BP

2006-05-30 06:49:06
3.   bp1
1 A few hard hit balls, but I wouldn't say they'd be home runs in other parks. He kept the Tigers off balance most of the day. This was a good pitching game, not just a "got lucky" game where all the balls were hit at gloves.

BP

2006-05-30 06:53:17
4.   Alex Belth
Knowing how spacious the outfield is didn't hurt Johnson either.
2006-05-30 06:58:57
5.   Dimelo
I'm glad RJ did well, we definitely need him. But listening to him after the game, is there a harder person on Earth to root for?
2006-05-30 07:55:49
6.   Alex Belth
Dimelo,
Yes, Curt Schilling.
2006-05-30 07:59:06
7.   Dimelo
Alex, I was trying to limit my question to just Yanks, but I should have been more explicit. My bad! But yes, Curt Schilling definitely is worse...as is..A.J. Perzynski (sp?, I won't even bother to look it up). I hated rooting Kenny Lofton too. Boggs, too. Clemens' first year was tough, but RJ is by far the hardest to genuinely root for.
2006-05-30 08:02:05
8.   Sliced Bread
As long as Johnson keeps his innings as short as his interviews I'll root for him enthusiastically.

Due to his recent struggles, and everybody wondering whether he's washed up, I feel somewhat sympathetic toward the guy.

Being a 6 foot 10 inch future Hall of Famer who's as unapproachable as a 7 foot rattle snake, Johnson could never be mistaken for an underdog, but yesterday he pitched like he had something to prove (even to himself).

Sure, the hot weather and big ballpark helped his old bones, but Johnson came up big against a hot team. The Yanks and us fans have to feel very good about that.

2006-05-30 08:18:37
9.   rbj
I'm not going to base my rootingness on whether someone gives good interviews, especially if the questions are along the lines of "why do you suck so much lately." or "you didn't suck today, why can't you pitch like that all the time." As long as Unit's making his pitches, I'm happy.
2006-05-30 08:45:12
10.   markp
rbj
Exactly.
2006-05-30 08:55:14
11.   Schteeve
7 I think A.J. is an interesting guy. I live in Chicago, and he's actually a pretty good interview, he comes off as a funny tough guy. Like a sidekick in a buddy cop movie. He definitely makes antagonizing opponents part of his game, but I think if he were on the Yankees we'd have a pretty easy time learning to love the guy.
2006-05-30 09:00:10
12.   Dimelo
It's simply his arrogant tone.
2006-05-30 09:01:45
13.   Dimelo
11 Didn't AJ have issues in Minnesota and San Francisco?
2006-05-30 09:35:46
14.   C2Coke
I was doing my routine check in the Probable Pitchers section on Yankees.com just now. And I noticed all the SP are on the chart except a SP for June 1 is missing, which is supposedly Wang's start.
Anyone has any ideas why?
2006-05-30 10:17:41
15.   tocho
according to NYYfans Rasner has been called up.
2006-05-30 10:19:31
16.   sam2175
9 rbj, Wonderfully put.

I would like to add that Randy Johnson, at his best, does not need anyone to root for him. People root for underdogs. Randy Johnson over his career has defined the word dominance, the exact opposite of it. People wait for such characters to fail, and that is why they are impossible to root for.

As for Johnson's demeanor, if I had achieved as much as he has achieved over his career, and sucked like he did for the last few starts, I would be grumpy as hell. If you are that good, you certainly have a degree of professional pride. He is hard enough on himself, and can't perhaps be happy about a whole bunch of people questioning his creentials. In other words, I would be worried if he were not grumpy.

2006-05-30 10:30:36
17.   BobbyBaseBall
Some disturbing news from the Post:

"Since Bubba Crosby is less than a week away from coming off the DL, the Yankees have to clear a roster spot. Crosby is eligible to be activated Sunday in Baltimore.

While Terrence Long is a candidate to be dumped for Crosby, Torre likes having Long around.

'He's a pro and easy to like in the clubhouse," Torre said of Long, who started yesterday against Jeremy Bonderman as the DH because of a .333 (6-for-18) average against the right-hander. "He has been in the fires before with Oakland when they were winning pennants,' Torre said. 'You can never discount that experience in my mind.'"

2006-05-30 10:54:59
18.   Sliced Bread
16 Johnson does need fans to root for him.
Last year I recall him encouraging Yankee fans to get fired up when he has two strikes etc. He said he feeds off the energy.
He probably doesn't care what's written about him, nor should he, but that's different than not wanting to be rooted for.
2006-05-30 11:26:00
19.   yankaholic
14 I think u are mistaken... chk espn

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teams/schedule?team=nyy

if anything the Orioles are missing someone..

15 good news.. if he is on schedule, he shud have pitched today

2006-05-30 11:33:31
20.   bp1
First, I don't have to like the guy to want him to win ballgames. I will continue to "root" for Randy Johnson because his success leads to Yankee team success. I was just making conversation 2 about how his post game interviews send up gigantic "I'm a jerk!!" flares. You know the old saying - if it quacks like a duck ...

We've won World Series with jerks on the roster before, and hopefully we will win #27 with the tallest of them all. I hope he goes undefeated the rest of the way and leads the team to a smashing post season.

Secondly, 16 I humbly disagree. Mariano Rivera is every bit the "first ballot hall of famer" that RJ is, and certainly has dominated his profession, but I know people root for him not simply because of the uniform he wears.

Anyway - just jawing like some guys in the stands between innings. Didn't mean to start anything. Go Randy! :-)

BP

2006-05-30 11:45:32
21.   sam2175
18 I thought last year it was the opposite. He said that he doesn't mind being booed. In fact, he feeds off of that challenge when home fans boo him. Maybe I am remembering things differently, or remembering different circumstances.

As for Mo, he is a naturally polite person. He certainly was surprised when people flocked his lockers last year after second blown save versus Boston. He just calmly said "I was supposed to produce groundballs, and I did. I am human, I blow saves." Manner of speech perhaps makes it less disagreebale, but the content of speech in both cases are the same.

And Mike Mussina, the pitcher I like most, almost always dismisses stupid questions with the contempt they deserve. Doesn't win him many fans among sportswriters (or Michael Kay), but gets the point across emphatically.

2006-05-30 11:52:00
22.   Dimelo
20 I agree with what you said. RJ is a dick and he's tough to root for. That's as simple as I can put it. Mariano isn't a dick, therefore it is really easy to root for him. Javy Vasquez was a great guy and even when he lost it bugged me because I knew how much he cared and how much he wanted it all to work in NYC. You can't help but feel bad for him.

Do I want Randy to win every single game, as long as he's wearing a Yankee uniform? Hell yes!!! Do I think he's every bit of as despicable as Schilling and others I don't like? Hell yes!!! Just cause he's a Yankee doesn't make it easier to like him. You root for the uniform, not the player. There are instances like with Mariano, Jeter, Bernie, Posada, etc, where the player AND the uniform make you proud. RJ doesn't inspire that in me. When he sucks I just dislike him that much more, when he does well then I'm glad the Yankees did well. He's a dick, he'll always be a dick, and after we win 27 and 28 with him then I'll be OK with never having to see his ugly f'ing mug again.

2006-05-30 12:03:51
23.   Sliced Bread
21 I think you're right about the booing comment, Sam, but as I recall, he said that jokingly. He was talking about the difference between Arizona and NY fans, and said something about the Arizonza fans being more fired up, and wanting NY to get behind him, but he also joked that it would be ok if the NY fans booed him because he'd feed off that too. I don't think he seriously wanted to be booed by the NY crowd.
2006-05-30 12:41:03
24.   Schteeve
13 I'm not sure if his teammates hated him or if it was just his opponents. And I'm really not saying he's a "nice" guy, but I find something brattily likeable about him.
2006-05-30 13:27:49
25.   Ken Arneson
24 Read this (after the "No Class Whatsoever" header) and tell me if you still find Pierzynski likeable:

http://tinyurl.com/6ed7h

2006-05-30 13:31:44
26.   randym77
Check out Peter King of SI's comments here:

http://tinyurl.com/o62vn

He hates the Yanks, but says Jeter is the best baseball player he's ever seen.

>> I think I said something to my bride the other night that I never thought I'd say about a New York Yankee. As many of you may have divined from this column over the years, that's not my favorite franchise on earth. Anyway, I said to her: I'm not sure about this, but I think when Derek Jeter retires, I will say he's the best baseball player I ever saw.

Living in Jersey, I see the man come to bat maybe 300 times a season, and I watch him in the field maybe 40 percent of his innings. But Jeter personifies effort every time he puts on the uniform; there is never anything but 100 percent effort. Every at-bat is quality. Every ball hit to him, and some only close to him, are gobbled up with certainty. And the way he carries himself ... He is baseball's Tiger Woods. He is this Yankee generation's DiMaggio. And I think he'll go down as better than Mantle, because though Mantle was truly great, he also squandered much of his ability through wild living. <<

2006-05-30 13:45:51
27.   Rob Gee
25 That's not just likeable - that's hilarious!
2006-05-30 13:46:48
28.   randym77
Hmmm. I see Clemens has signed with the Astros.

Just as well. I don't really want him in pinstripes again. The last thing we need is another geriatric pitcher.

But I didn't want him in Boston, either...

2006-05-30 14:06:25
29.   BklynBmr
28 Probably his best move for purely selfish reasons. I didn't want to see him in Beantown, either — unless my crystal ball said he'd go 0-6, 11.23 ERA and just quit in mid-September. I wouldn't mind watching that. When the Sox play at The Stadium, Rocket could have driven the effing Hummer down from Boston, return it to George and take the bus back.

From NewsDay:

"Clemens, 43, has signed a one-year deal that is believed to be worth about $3.5 million per month, which will probably equate to about $10.5 million for the season, depending on when exactly he returns to action."

2006-05-30 14:12:45
30.   wsporter
28 Wow, glad it worked out that way. Not sure what the Rocket has left but I'm glad he's sticking to the "Family" thing. It's nice when a man can earn a living wage and be near the kids. That's special. Plus Boston would have been unbearable had they salved that gaping wound and signed him.

The Mets brought Milledge up today. That's two big things in MLB today. If this were 2003 or 2004 I'd say we were about to do something silly just to compete. Now, not so much. It's a nice change.

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