Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Calm Before the Storm
2006-09-28 05:38
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Sometimes, there is nothing as satifying as getting to the ballpark early. Last night, I went with Jay Jaffe to the Yankee game and he had cherce seats in the lower section of the tier directly behind home plate, possibly my favorite general location in the entire park. Until about 35 minutes before game time, the house organist played a string of older popular melodies: "Sunny," "Groovin," and even my sentimental favorite, "Angela's Theme," (more commonly known as the theme music for the show "Taxi"). Then Bob Sheppard announced the "dos and donts," in his inimitable articulated and understated fashion. As he read the rules of conduct, a round consessions man who looked very much like a bloated toad, moved around the walkway in the upperdeck, leaning on the railing as if to keep his balance, and repeated Sheppard word-for-word.

At 6:38, the TV screen in centerfield showed Bruce Springsteen sitting in the front row next to the Yankee dugout. Sun-tanned and handsome, the Boss, wearing a blue baseball cap, green army jacket and organge t-shirt, smiled for the camera and spoke in a serious and unselfconscious way to a reporter standing over him. Two teenage girls wearing Yankee caps sat next to him and could not stop giggling as "Glory Days" blared over the P.A. system. The TV screen now showed the two girls and a message read "The Other Boss" (I assumed that one of the girls was Springsteen's daughter). When the reporter left and the cameraman turned away, the Boss leaned forward and opened his program as his daughter held a camera out with an extended arm and took a picture of herself and the other girl.

By now, the calming sounds of the organ was replaced by the blaring sound of TV highlights and commericals. My section was populated with season ticket holders, many of them older couples, all of them eating. The early bird special. The first pitch was thrown out by Kathy Johnson Masser who in the early fifties (I missed the exact date) became the first girl to ever play in a Little League game. As she left the field, escorted by a younger woman in a business suit, Masser, a short woman wearing a oversized white jersey, was stopped by two of the Yankee players who were leaning over the top rail of the dugout. They said a few words to her and then she walked away.

The Mid Island Little League All Stars from Staten Island--dressed in red and white uniforms--were announced to the crowd and the kids got to stand with the Yankee players on the field during the playing of the National Anthem (the U.S. Army Band recording, which I find to be true and without pretension). The three middle infielders stood with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robbie Cano at the lip of the outfield grass near shortstop. Three outfielders stood around the Yankee outfield in short right field. Two kids flanked Jorge Posada at home plate. One kid stood next to Gary Sheffield at first and another with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound. All of the big leaguers leaned down slightly and talked to the kids. When the anthem was over, the kid standing next to Sheffield didn't move. It was as if they didn't know exactly what to do. I'm sure the last thing these kids wanted was for this moment, on a beautifully crisp and pleasent night in the Bronx, to end. The three infield kids were dispatched first and they sprinted towards first base. The kid at first waited for them to reach him before he moved. As Sheffield began to get ready to throw grounders to his infielders he motioned "yo" with his glove to the kid who was walking from the mound to the dugout. Big leaguers all the way.

As for the game itself, the Bombers were in fine form, beating the hell out of the Orioles 16-4. The Yanks are now one game ahead of the Tigers for the best record in the league. Chien-Ming Wang was not sharp but he pitched well enough to get his 19th win of the season. Jason Giambi returned and had three hits and 4 RBI (guess his wrist is feeling okay); Jorge had 4 RBIs as well. Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu and Cano all hit dingers as well. Rompalicious.

A fun, carefree night of it for Yankee fans. It was fun to think that in a week, the place would truly be packed, the weather a little colder, and the energy entirely different. For a drunk sitting nearby--"Hey, nine dollar beer guy, over here!"--booing the wave, and everyone who participated in it, was the highlight of the night. "Where are you? This isn't Shea. We don't do the wave here!" An almost impossible cute little baby girl held in her mother's arms directly in front of us, cooed at Jay and me throughout most of the game. She had blond hair and big blue eyes and had already learned the art of flirtation. Two french kids in their early twenties, who like basketball far more than they like, or even know, baseball, sat behind us and told us about the World Cup and how excited they were to see Tony Parker play at the Garden later this fall. And, wouldn't you know it, but in the ninth inning, fellow blogger Ben Kabak spotted me (he recognized my mugshot from and he came by with his friend Ben for the final outs.

A nice, relaxing evening of it. The calm before the storm...

Comments (112)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-09-28 06:24:27
1.   jkay
Every year, they raise beer prices for the playoffs. Its going to be "hey $9.50 beer guy". I suggest a few bodega beer before entering.
2006-09-28 06:36:22
2.   Sliced Bread
Great piece, Alex.

Hideki "Bloated Toad" Irabu is working concessions?

My God, Abreu's on fire. No, not fire. Flames are shapeless and jittery. Abreu's smooth and powerful swing is molten titanium.

2006-09-28 06:39:48
3.   bloodyank78
Damn Alex, you sure can write. Thanks for virtually putting me in the seat next to you for last night's events.
By the way this is totally unrelated, but being a Yankee fan out here in SoCal, it is so nice watching all the Angel gear slowly disappear. It's beautiful. The Rally Monkey has been poached.
2006-09-28 06:50:23
4.   Popcult
I read in the Washington Post summary ( of the game that Wang was experimenting with a cutter last night. Interesting time to be learning a new pitch, dontcha think (even with a huge lead)?
2006-09-28 06:53:33
5.   Sliced Bread
Speaking of lava: Jorgie's erupting, too.
Thought Mt. Posada was supposed to be quiet this time of year.

Did you catch him chatting up Wang after one of the shaky innings? Jorgie has a lot to say sometimes. I know some disagree with me about this, including Cliff, but I think Posada is going to coach or even manage someday.

Speaking of which, that was really sad news about Tony Pena's dad. Just the other day, Pena was answering questions about possibly managing the Nationals next year.

"I haven't heard anything," Peña said. "The only thing I am concerned with is getting a World Series ring. I have a lot of rings [but] I don't have one of them."

Here's hoping Tony wins one for his dad next month.

2006-09-28 06:54:15
6.   joe in boston
Wow, great writing Alex - wish I was there....but you write as though we all were there. Sounds like a great night.

Home with a sick 4 year old. Thomas the tank engine all day. Maybe I out on some of my Yankee videos !

2006-09-28 06:56:50
7.   jalexei
Had Loge Box seats at Fenway last night between third and home. Same type of experience: A beautiful evening for baseball, great seats, a birthday celebration for Johnny Pesky, 36-ish of the remaining 100 or so living Congressional Medal of Honor winners (very moving) and most pleasant of all, a 9-run seventh for our friends from Tampa.

I'm looking forward to the playoffs, but the end of the regular season is always a bit melancholy...

2006-09-28 06:57:40
8.   Sliced Bread
4 That's interesting re: Wang's cutter. Read this morning that he's had a blister and a band-aid on his finger from throwing the sinker. Perhaps the cutter grip is more comfortable for him.

He could also just be experimenting, as you suggest.

2006-09-28 06:57:53
9.   joe in boston
Dang - I can't type. I mean pull out my Yankee videos
2006-09-28 06:58:09
10.   unpopster
well, a client of mine gave me two tickets to last night's game but I decided not to go at the last minute. Jeez, am I a dolt!

As watched parts of the game on YES, I kept on literally smacking my palm against my forehead. Games like last night are the best to attend and, considering that I've attended some absolute horrendous games (e.g. 2004's 19-1 drubbing to Cleveland), I will never turn down free tickets again.

To paraphrase "Ole Windbag" Sterling, you just never know what you'll see at a game.

2006-09-28 06:59:30
11.   mikeplugh
Nice Alex. I'm enjoying the Greatest Lineup on Earth thing we have going on these days. I think it's the greatest lineup of hitters that I've ever seen in one place. It actually looks better than some All Star rosters I've seen.

To that end, I think all we need in the post-season to win it all is league average pitching. Of course, we need to grind out the games against Johan Santana, but who else is out there that merits real fear? Zito? Harden? Verlander? Rogers? Boof Bonser?

If you remove Santana from the equation, I'm not worried about a single team out there, AL or NL.

In a lighter note, my baby boy is approaching its 8th month inside mommy's belly and loves to wriggle around after my rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Future centerfielder for the Yankees....Masaki Plugh. (Haven't decided on that as his name yet).

2006-09-28 07:01:44
12.   Sliced Bread
11 Hey, congrats, Mr. Canyon. Good luck to you and your growing family!

Masaki's a cool name.

2006-09-28 07:06:10
13.   mikeplugh
12 Thanks. Finding a suitable name has got to be the hardest job in the world. We're mulling a bunch of names, but a good Japanese name that doesn't sound like a bodily function, stewed meat, or frightening threat in English is a challenge.
2006-09-28 07:08:00
14.   joe in boston
Congrats Dr. Canyon - I enjoy your blog. How about Derek or Mickey or even "Babe" ???
2006-09-28 07:08:00
15.   Jim Dean
Turns out a one Nitro Damon is leaving a "disturbing" note on the myspace page of his former teammate:

Audio alert

-scroll down

2006-09-28 07:09:49
16.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Jay and I--and probably just about everyone else--just marveled at the bottom third of the Yankee order: Matsui, Posada and Cano.


2006-09-28 07:22:35
17.   Sliced Bread
And bolstering The Greatest Lineup On Earth, Melky and Bernie on the bench.


Melky is far from an easy out, and Bernie, well, we all know Good Ole Bernie's postseason resume.

He's not the best pinch hitter, but I still see Bernabe coming through.

2006-09-28 07:30:12
18.   joe in boston
I pray ever night for a Bernie walk off homer in a playoff or WS game.
2006-09-28 07:32:10
19.   mikeplugh
14 Thanks Joe.

If I go with a Yankee name, it's got to sound Japanese. Gotta represent the other half of baby's culture. Hideki is both Irabu and Matsui, but I don't like the name so much. Next best Japanese Yankee name is:


2006-09-28 07:36:11
20.   joe in boston
19 My boys are named Peter and Sam. When my wife was expecting, we referred to the baby as Derek or Mickey. Alas, neither name stuck. 'Course being named after my dad worked fine. Let me tell you, there's nothing like passing on your love of the Yanks to your kids. Makes you remember BEING a kid, and the things your dad and uncles/cousins(at least in our family), spoke about.
2006-09-28 07:39:09
21.   Bama Yankee
14 Congrats Mike on the upcoming baby. Get all the sleep you can now.

You could always go with the name Karim Garcia ;-)

Or since you are in the future, how about Marty McFly?

2006-09-28 07:46:35
22.   mikeplugh
21 Good one. I also like this name:

Or any number of others from the 1921 Bombers.

2006-09-28 07:52:11
23.   vockins
11 I think the Twins are a very, very dangerous team in a five game series. Seven games is a little easier to deal with, but five is tough, especially in that goofy dome.

Boof Bonser has been pretty damn good since the AS break. The guy has walked 12 people in 59 innings. He pitches better on the road than in the dome.

Radke has been no joke either post AS, too. Five walks in 52 innings! I can't look at these Twins pitching stats anymore, they're freaking me out.

If the Yanks get past a ALDS series with the Twins, then I'm as confident as you are, but I'll be biting my nails until that happens.

2006-09-28 07:54:50
24.   vockins
23 "...either post AS, too."

Looks like Twin paranoia is turning me into a moron.

2006-09-28 07:56:49
25.   Bama Yankee
22 Mike, that Chicken Hawks name cracks me up. And reminds me of this:

Whatever name you choose, please don't put your child through having to live with a name like this:

2006-09-28 07:58:26
26.   mikeplugh
25 I just shot imaginary milk out my nose!
2006-09-28 08:00:21
27.   mikeplugh
Going to bed. Be back around gametime.
2006-09-28 08:06:55
28.   Shaun P
27 Congrats Mike and enjoy the sleep while you're still getting it!

You will have a lot of fun next season, especially when your little boy is old enough to figure out that dad cheering is good. My 9-month old daughter might not understand baseball at all - not that I haven't tried explaining it to her! - but when I cheer a home run or a good play or whatever, she lifts her arms and cheers with me. One of the greatest feelings in the world.

2006-09-28 08:12:48
29.   joe in boston
28 Kind of an obvious comment for me to make; but isn't it amazing how complex baseball is, especially when you try to explain the game to a 4 year old ?! (Let alone your wife!)
2006-09-28 08:25:15
30.   Bama Yankee
28 "One of the greatest feelings in the world." Amen Shaun P.

I remember when my son was only a few months old and his sleeping schedule was off. I offered to stay up with him and let me wife get some much needed sleep (Yanks were on the West Coast and I planned to watch the game, but my wife did not know that...). I will never forget when Jeter came up to the plate, I pointed to the TV and told my son "That's Derek Jeter". As if on cue, Jete hit a homer (I'm not making this up) and my son must have sensed my joy because he broke into the biggest smile you have ever seen. Great feeling, indeed...

2006-09-28 08:30:25
31.   Bama Yankee
29 You could always go with the quote: "Baseball is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while."
2006-09-28 08:40:54
32.   joe in boston
31 I got ya. Yeah, but how about walks, HBP, double plays, infield fly rule, bang-bang plays at first.....yeesh !
2006-09-28 08:41:08
33.   Shaun P
30 The first 'copied' cheer I ever got out of my daughter was when Matsui hit his first home run after coming back a couple weeks ago. I think I will always be a little bit more of a Godzilla fan because of that.

2931 I sometimes find that explaining some of the more complex things about baseball to my wife gives me insight into the game from her. True story: Before I got into sabermetric stuff, my wife (girlfriend at the time) noted that wins probably weren't a good way to evaluate a pitcher. She figured that out just from my explanation of how a win is assigned to a pitcher. Never ceases to amaze me.

2006-09-28 08:43:43
34.   joe in boston
Up here north of Boston, my 4 yr old son will be Derek Jeter for Halloween for the 3rd year in a row (we stayed in for his first). Always interesting to see the reactions of the neighbors.....
2006-09-28 08:44:57
35.   pistolpete
34 Ha! I can imagine - they probably grudgingly hand over the candy, grumbling and cursing as soon as the door closed...
2006-09-28 08:56:19
36.   Bama Yankee
34 I can hear them now: "Hey Honey, the nay-bah's kid is dressed like Jetah again this ye'ah. Bring me some of those old stale Nomah candy bahs..."

It could be worse, he could go around as a "Gimpy Crow"

2006-09-28 09:02:27
37.   Sliced Bread
34 Yeah, I imagine there aren't too many Captain Jeter costumes in your neck of New England, but kids in your neighborhood are probably more likely to get egged wearing Beckett get-ups this Halloween.
2006-09-28 09:11:10
38.   joe in boston
[34-37] You guys are killing me!

Yes, it's tough up here. Enjoyable this year though ! The correct order has been re-established....Yankees-big brother, Sox-little brother to beat on.

Of course, this is the same neighborhood where my Yankee flag got stolen this spring.

2006-09-28 09:26:45
39.   JL25and3
The upper deck behind home plate is my favorite place to sit as well. The boxes are best, of course. But back in the early 80's, the top few rows of the upper deck were general admission seats. For 8 bucks I could sit in section 1, right behind the plate, way up high. I spent an awful lot of time there, and they were great seats.

Once the new Stadium opens, we can say goodbye to any decent seats in the upper deck.

One small correction, Alex, and it's only because I know you're passionate about music: the old Bobby Hebb standard is "Sunny," not "Sonny." That sets up lines like "Yesterday my life was filled with rain," and "My sunny one shines so sincere."

2006-09-28 09:30:06
40.   unpopster
28 I taught my now 2 1/2 year a long time ago those three magic words: "Let's Go Yankees!" She proclaims it with glee every time she sees her daddy sitting infront of the TV watching the yanks play. But my inlaws are huge Phillies fans and, unfortunately, she's attended more Phillies home games than games at The Stadium -- so she's also learned to chant "Let's Go Phillies!"

Next season I'll fix that. But as much as I would like to see the Phils make the postseason, the sight of seeing the Yanks vs. Philadelphia in the World Series might just push her towards clinical schizophrenia.

2006-09-28 09:35:16
41.   Bama Yankee
38 "Hey Mahge, the ney-bah's got a Yanks flag a flyin'... Aftah dahk I'll put on my gorilla suit and go get that suckah, it'll be supah wicked funny."
2006-09-28 09:38:59
42.   Chyll Will
31 "..."Baseball is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball..." eat the ball, tell 'em to kiss your behind if necessary...

I know I know, not really kid cuisine, but amazingly effective during the stretch run. I'll shut up now since I don't have any kids, but easily simulate one on screen >;)

2006-09-28 09:40:21
43.   Chyll Will
41 Calisle, MA?
2006-09-28 09:42:08
44.   Bama Yankee
43 Home of Karim Gahcia?
2006-09-28 09:47:09
45.   Chyll Will
44 Who's Kahrim Gah-ceeyah?
2006-09-28 09:54:04
46.   Chyll Will
2006-09-28 09:55:12
47.   yankz
Cliff's going to be freaked out when he gets back to all these Karim Garcia jokes.
2006-09-28 09:56:34
48.   Bama Yankee
45 In the words of Bob Timmermann"
"I'm sorry I don't follow."

I guess you overloaded his "running joke" bucket the other day.

BTW, I think I've finally found the answer to our famous question:
"He's the Latino Bambino" as referenced by our friends at Wikipedia.

2006-09-28 10:03:46
49.   Bama Yankee
47 Or in the words of RichYF from last night's game thread:
"I'm like 95% sure I missed out on that joke, and no sir, I don't like it."

But we have been of service to some like zgveritas from the other night:
"I couldn't remember Karim Garcia's first name the other day. Thanks for reminding me of his name. I was meaning to look it up."

2006-09-28 10:15:37
50.   mehmattski
I take full responsibility/blame for the recent origin of the running joke. If someone wants to find my comment about Yankees' bench players from two weeks ago, then I congratulate you for having more time than I.

I snuck it into a discussion on a recent post over at No one acknowledged it though.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-09-28 10:16:37
51.   Emy
Great write up, Alex. My seats are in the upperdeck behind homeplate (about midway). Besides moving down to the lower part of the tier, I can't think of a better view at the Stadium.

I think I know who the "bloated toad" is you're referring to. Without looking to see who's due up next, he will often announce the next batter during the game. I saw that someone even posted a video of him on YouTube doing his routine.

10 My wife just bailed on me for tonight's game (shopping)- I've got an extra ticket if you want it (no charge)? Email if you're interested:

2006-09-28 10:28:28
52.   C2Coke
Today feels like BB Sentimental Day. A lotta love and laughters all around.
2006-09-28 10:38:10
53.   RIYank
From a current Baseball Musings entry entitled "Kicking the Beckett":

Beckett and Lowell combined to collect 28 win shares, 12 for Josh, 16 for Mike. Given Lowell's 9 last season, that was a big improvement. But Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez combined for 33 win shares; twenty-three by the shortstop and 10 by the pitcher in half a season. To put it simply, the Beckett trade was not a cost effective deal.

2006-09-28 10:40:02
54.   RIYank
A couple of afterthoughts on 53:
First, I was surprised the WS were so close, until I noticed that Sanchez got his ten in half a season.
Second, Pinto notes that Theo must be glad that he wasn't officially in charge when that trade went down.
2006-09-28 10:43:09
55.   Mike T
A beer costs $9 at Yankee stadium? Wow.
2006-09-28 10:46:44
56.   Chyll Will
49 If I get onto another crowded bus this afternoon, I'm gonna yell "Choi!"
2006-09-28 10:48:19
57.   Chyll Will
55 Bet it comes with an act...
2006-09-28 10:52:00
58.   pistolpete
53 And to think a lot of us were lambasting the Marlins' front office for letting the Red Sox hornswaggle them into giving up Beckett for 'no names'.

Not this site specifically, but in general. We're much too smart for that. ;-)

2006-09-28 10:52:09
59.   Sliced Bread
What a difference a year makes? Comparing the 2005 ALDS Game 1 lineup to last night's lineup vs Orioles. Season stats avg./obp./slg (including Sheffield and Matsui):

Oct. 2005 Sept. 2006
Jeter .309/.389/.450 - Damon .289/.360/.489
A-Rod .321/.421/.610 - Jeter .340/.414/.483
Giambi .271/.440/.535 -Abreu .303/.413/.508
Sheff .291/.379/.512 - A-Rod .286/.389/.514
Matsui .305/.367./.496-Giambi .254/.413/.560
Cano .297/.320/.458 - *Sheff .303/.363/.423
Posada .262/.352/.430 *Matsui .307/.398/.509
Bernie .249/.321/.367 Posada .277/.375/.481
Bubba .276/.304/.327 - Cano .343/.367/.530

05 Bench 06 Bench
Tino .241/.328/.439 - Melky .277/.356/.384
Ruben .229/.265/.371 - Bernie .281/.333/.436

2006-09-28 10:52:38
60.   mehmattski
56 I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court said that a person does not have the right to yell "Choi" in a crowded bus. Schenck vs. the United States (1919).

52 I tuned in to last night's game just seconds before Robby Cano's upper deck shot. Remembering his swing has had me smiling all day. Is that weird?

2006-09-28 10:58:38
61.   Flip Play
Glad to hear they play the Taxi theme at the Stadium. Taxi is a quintessential New York sitcom and Tony Danza wore his Yankee T-shirt or jacket in almost every other episode. Always makes me think of "Tony Banta" rooting for the Bronx Zoo.
2006-09-28 10:59:06
62.   rbj
Man, nothing like having your A Number 1 lineup out there with your ace starter, and give a good old fashioned beat down to a bad club. I just hope the Twins decide to burn Santana in an effort to avoid the Yankees in the first round.
2006-09-28 10:59:08
63.   C2Coke
60 Remember? we are a bunch of "girls" spending all of our days on here. Who are I to define what's weird?
2006-09-28 11:01:10
64.   C2Coke
62 But I also can't wait for a Wang v. Santana matchup. That will be pretty cool, wouldn't it?
2006-09-28 11:02:42
65.   pistolpete
Does anyone else think it's silly to have Randy go in Game 3 of an ALDS? I sure like Mussina a heck of a lot better on the road...
2006-09-28 11:09:11
66.   Sliced Bread
65 Moose is actually better on the road this year, and Unit is better at home.

Home 7-6 5.00 ERA
Away 10-5 5.01 ERA

Home 8-2 3.30 ERA
Away 6-5 3.83 ERA

2006-09-28 11:14:28
67.   Shaun P
53 Very interesting. I'm not a huge WS fan, so here are the combined VORP and WARP1 numbers:

Beckett + Lowell: 39.6*, 11.2 WARP1
Hanley + Sanchez: 86.7* , 10.6 WARP1

*Hanley leads ALL rookies, NL, AL, pitchers, hitters, in VORP, at 55. In other words, according to VORP, Hanley by himself has been better than Beckett and Lowell combined.


2006-09-28 11:14:47
68.   pistolpete
And I'm sorry, but I don't have enough confidence in Randy that if the Twins/Tigers steal one off Wang or Moose, that he can be the stopper in game 3.
2006-09-28 11:16:28
69.   Shaun P
66 Not only that, but the Stadium has always favored lefty pitchers like Unit. And, let's say the Yanks lose the first 2 games of the ALDS. Who would you rather see in an elimination game 3, Moose or Unit? I'd pick Moose in about half a second.
2006-09-28 11:20:06
70.   joejoejoe
I plugged in last night's Yanks lineup into Ken Arneson's lineup optimizer and came up with about 6.3 runs per game and 1015 runs a season. Sheffield is the only regular with an OPS under .800.


2006-09-28 11:20:12
71.   Chyll Will
60 Rassum brassum msblsssl Rick Rastardly!
2006-09-28 11:22:33
72.   Sliced Bread
69 66 Reverse that... Moose is actually better at home (record wise), and Unit is actually better on the road (record wise).

Not much differential in Unit's Home/Road ERA, but Moose's home ERA is better than his away ERA.

That said, I agree Unit would be better at home because he's a southpaw, and says he feeds off the home energy.

Moose just needs more run support and few errors behind him, and he'll be fine no matter where he pitches.

2006-09-28 11:30:30
73.   Bama Yankee
50 mehmattski, I appreciate you trying to take full responsibility for the running joke but I'm afraid I have to share some of the blame (along with Chyll).

Here's the thread from back in August:
You brought him up in post #23 and I asked the question in post #43

So, when Cliff gets back and wants to ban someone for the Karim Garcia stuff, I'll take the bullet along with you.

BTW, I also remembered a thread back in July where mickey1956 brought up the name Christian Garcia and Nick from Washington Heights asked "Who is Christian Garcia?". Which prompted me to ask him if that post was a classic play on the Pedro comment. Nick is an honest guy, here was his reply: "I wish I were that clever, but I was asking sincerely." So, I guess Nick might have really started it all... ;-)

2006-09-28 11:37:51
74.   rbj
If the Yanks lose the first two games, I honest do not think it matters who goes in game three.
2006-09-28 11:44:03
75.   Yank fan in Eugene
Detroit getting hammered by the Jays 7-1 and not looking too good lately. We may not face the Twins in the ALDS after all.
2006-09-28 11:44:59
76.   pistolpete
74 Ahem - 2001.

Yanks down 2-0 in the best of 5 to Oakland. Mussina throws a 1-0 shutout.


2006-09-28 11:53:47
77.   JL25and3
69 First off, if the Yankees go to Minnesota down 0-2, It's not a pretty situation no matter who's starting. Second, if Johnson is pitching in a elimination game 3, it's because the Yankees didn't win with Mussina in game 2. So why do you have more confidence in him for game 3 (or less for game 2)?

Torre's setting up the rotation this way in case it goes to game 5 all-hands-on-deck situation. He has more confidence that Mussina will be able to come out of the bullpen. That seems like as good a reason as any.

2006-09-28 11:54:52
78.   Chyll Will
73 We ain't goin' out like dat.

Anytime you wanna put a stop to it, I'm cool. Something else will invariably take its place.

2006-09-28 12:04:40
79.   Bama Yankee
78 Just kidding about us getting banned, I think it's funny (especially the way some people work it into things and even post it on other boards). Others might think it has gotten tired (similar to Pavano jokes), but some people still like it (evidenced by the way it has taken off and continues to grow). I say keep it up, once it really gets old we will all know it and it will die on its own...
2006-09-28 12:05:46
80.   standuptriple
Wow, the Jays are stompin' on Le Tigres. Here's to them using up all their hits today and gaining an extra game tonight.
2006-09-28 12:20:19
81.   mehmattski
73,79 Wow, I had no idea it went back that far. I was thinking more of the back to back posts where someone made a crack about the back of the bullpen:
Followed by liberal use of his name in that night's game thread:

My search also showed a use of his name (by Chyll Will) in a thread earlier in September that was not followed by a "Who is Karim Garcia?":

Along with Carl Pavano jokes and the list of things to blame A-Rod for, these are some of the best parts about the Banter.

2006-09-28 12:22:57
82.   Jim Dean
A challenge:

A legitimate statistical argument for Phillips as the better defensive 1B than Wilson.

I look at all the stats, and except the one point edge in RATE (not significant), I see that Wilson has three times fewer errors and more DP's turned in the same number of chances.

Yet, the "Phillips a best defenseive 1B" persists.

Why? Just because that's what Torre seems to believe?

2006-09-28 12:27:18
83.   JL25and3
82 Honestly, I have yet to see a defensive statistic that impresses me.
2006-09-28 12:29:21
84.   pistolpete
77 So who says Mussina would be at fault in a losing effort? Let's say he throws a lot of pitches, goes 7 and leaves with the score at 3-2. Farnsworth comes in and gives up a solo shot, game tied. He walks 1, gets a few outs, gives up another single and in comes Proctor with 2nd & 3rd and 2 outs. He gives up a humpback liner over Cano's head and so we wind up losing 4-3. Those seem to be the sort of losses Mussina's associated with.

Johnson, OTOH, can let things get out of hand in a hurry. If we're down 2-0 going into game 3, you don't want guys hitting bombs off Randy and FOIP end the season by the 5th inning. I'd actually rather have Wright in there if we're in a situation like that. At least he's proven (for the most part) he can go 5-6 with little trouble.

2006-09-28 12:32:06
85.   mehmattski
82 SG over at RLYW has convinced me not to trust RATE defensive stats. He prefers Zone Rating, which is still not perfect, but it's closer. This is the story that ZR tells:

Phillips: .867 in 527 innings
Wilson: .802 in 575 innings (NY and PIT)

Phillips: .870 in 594 innings
Wilson: .844 in 1814 innings

They have similar career Range Factors:
Phillips 9.64
Wilson 9.43

And fielding percentage is a wash:
Phillips .989
Wilson .993

And what does the number of DP turned have to do with a first baseman's fielding, other than perhaps his ability to stretch on Jeter's (often wide) throws?

The numbers tell me that Phillips creates more outs on plays the first baseman is involved in. That means he is a better fielder.

2006-09-28 12:35:10
86.   Sliced Bread
85 I'm convinced.

Do you have those #'s for Green and Cairo?

2006-09-28 12:39:49
87.   JL25and3
84 I agree that Mussina's a more reliable pitcher. On the other hand, he has an uncomfortable tendency to let little vagaries of the game throw him off. If someone makes an error, or if he doesn't like the ump's strike zone, he might give up four runs really quickly.

Remember that Joe considers game 2 to be the most crucial game, because that's the difference between 1-1 and 2-0.

But mostly what I'm saying is this: the first three games will be started by Wang, Mussina and Johnson in some order. If you save Mussina for game 3, you may have a better chance of winning an elimination game. On the other hand, if you use him in game 2, you have a better chance that game 3 won't be an elimination game. I'm not sure that I see a huge difference.

2006-09-28 12:42:24
88.   Jim Dean
85 You've got fielding percentage wrong (2006).

Phillips = .989
Wilson = .996

I don't know about the others. What does ZR include and how does it treat errors?

Cause getting to more balls but then dropping them means nothing.

They both have had 90 chances. Phillips has 6 errors and Wilson has 2.

DP's tell me about the 1B's ability to turn them - i.e. throw to second.

2006-09-28 12:50:07
89.   mehmattski
86 Here you go, at 2B:
Name/2006 inn/2006 ZR...Career inn/Career ZR
Cairo 320/.917...5503/.822
Green 135/.722...1438/.802

Cairo 90/.880...180/.802
Green 102/.767 (has only played SS in 2006)

Cairo 36/.909...394/.694
Green 79/.704...195/.746

Career Range Factor (2B/SS/3B)
Cairo 5.20/2.08/3.73
Green 4.74/2.40/4.59

Career Fielding Pct (2B/SS/3B)
Cairo .984/.892/.975
Green .982/.912/.963

2006-09-28 12:51:58
90.   JL25and3
88 3-6-3 double plays make up a very small percentage of a first baseman's DPs. They just won't account for much of the variance.

Also, 90 chances is a pretty small sample size. At that point, yeah, I'm likely to accept Torre's judgment.

2006-09-28 12:56:37
91.   mehmattski
88 I was listing the career fielding percentage. Basically, I consider fielding percentage and errors to be completely and utterly worthless (as do most sabermatricians). They are an arbitrary stat created with arbitrary rules that are enforced on a completely subjective basis. Zone Rating, meanwhile, calculates the percentage of balls that are hit into a player's "zone" resulting in outs. The stats listed on ESPN are an estimate, based on a typical number of balls that are hit into each defensive "zone." The accurate numbers are compiled by Stats, Inc and are released each offseason.

Here's an article from Baseball Think Factory about it:
Here's one article that's critical of Zone Rating:

Basically, there are gaping flaws in every defensive metric, and they should all be considered together, along with traditional scouting about a player. SG told me he likes Zone Rating because it seems to correlate well with the scouts, a heck of a lot better than something like fielding percentage does.

2006-09-28 12:56:59
92.   Sliced Bread
89 Thanks, mehmattski.
2006-09-28 12:58:11
93.   Jim Dean
90 You bet 90 chances is a small sample. But that's pretty much all Phillips has.

That's probably why Wilson was out there yesterday giving Shef tips (from Tyler). He's got more experience. It's just starting to feel like Bubba all over again. They avoided putting the guy out there all season. Then in the playoffs they're going to put him in a crucial spot? No thanks.

2006-09-28 13:00:04
94.   Chyll Will
81 And there I thought it was a freezeout...
2006-09-28 13:01:13
95.   Jim Dean
91 Thanks man.

But isn't the question then how many balls have been hit into each of their ranges.

Since they each have had 90 chances, we could be talking about the difference of five balls for the ZR rating differences this year. And with four more errors for Phillips, it's a wash.

I take the guy with much more experience then 93.

2006-09-28 13:02:32
96.   mehmattski
94 I fixed it.
2006-09-28 13:07:36
97.   Bama Yankee
94 Chyll, this may never die. It seems that mehmattski 96 has the same OCD that you and I do (I thought about doing the same thing) ;-)
2006-09-28 13:13:16
98.   Chyll Will
96, 97 Thnaks! >;)
2006-09-28 13:18:40
99.   Yank fan in Eugene
Tigers lose 8-6. One game closer to home field throughout.
2006-09-28 13:19:45
100.   Bama Yankee
91 Good work mehmattski. I always remember back when I was involved in fantasy leagues that someone would always want to use defensive stats. The fantasy league books would always argue that you could show with defensive stats (namely errors) that Cal Ripken was a better SS than Ozzie Smith since he made fewer errors (due to his lack of range compared to Ozzie) and therefore defensive stats were not an effective measurement tool.

You could probably use the same stat categories that you referenced earlier to show that a clearly inferior 1B (i.e. Giambi) was better than a gold glover (or even Danny Glover for that matter). I would try it, but I have spent too much time already researching a certain former Yankee bullpen security man...

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-09-28 13:21:16
101.   Sliced Bread
Tigers drop one. Yanks present house money lineup. No Jeter, no A-Rod according to Pete Abraham's Lohud blog.

Cairo at short. Cannizaro at 3rd.

2006-09-28 13:30:32
102.   mehmattski
100 Scouts report that Danny Glover has poor footwork around the bag. Plus he is right handed. Everyone knows that you have to be left-handed to be a good first baseman. But he is still a better choice than Sidney Poitier, as Glover is 2.5 inches taller.
2006-09-28 13:35:55
103.   JL25and3
102 Savion Glover's the one with the good footwork.
2006-09-28 13:38:33
104.   pistolpete
99 Nice to possible have the best record in all of baseball as well...
2006-09-28 13:39:15
105.   pistolpete
104 'possibly'
2006-09-28 13:45:45
106.   SG in ATL
"Since they each have had 90 chances, we could be talking about the difference of five balls for the ZR rating differences this year. And with four more errors for Phillips, it's a wash."

That's not how zone rating works. Zone rating is plays made/plays available. That's all it is. Errors are meaningless in the scope of zone rating. Does it matter if a player does not make a play because he gets to it and boots it, or if he never gets to it? Not really.

Andy Phillips has had 90 playable chances, and he's converted 78 into outs. So he's failed to make 12 plays, 4 of which were errors. That equals a zone rating of .867.

Craig Wilson has made 74 plays on 92 chances, so he's failed to make 18 plays, 2 of which were errors, so 2 more chances, and four fewer outs made. That equals his zone rating of .804. The difference in errors is irrelevant.

Zone rating is not perfect by any means. But I'm pretty comfortable Phillips is a better defender than Wilson. As to whether he's a better choice for a roster spot than Wilson, it's more complicated than that. Do you want a guy who can spot at 3B and 2B and play what seems to be plus defense at first, or do you want a guy who you can put at first or in an outfield corner, and who could also serve as an emergency catcher? Neither would seem to be in line to get any significant AB, not with Sheffield/Giambi/GOB/Melky around. Also, who do you pinch-hit for in this lineup?

The choice of Phillips vs. Wilson shouldn't end up being a difference-maker for this team anyway.

2006-09-28 13:46:08
107.   Bama Yankee
103 Good one, JL.

Corey Glover's not bad either.

2006-09-28 13:49:02
108.   mehmattski
103 Ba-dum-ching!
101 It's been more like House Money Fortnight. Here's the full lineup, for those too lazy to click on the LoHud link:

Johnny Damon CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
Jason Giambi DH
Gary Sheffield 1B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Miguel Cairo SS
Andy Canizzaro 3B

Darrell Rasner RHP

2006-09-28 14:06:29
109.   Jim Dean
106 Thanks much. The difference between Wilson and Phillips is four outs. I prefer the more extensive experience - so much so that he's tutoring Shef.
2006-09-28 14:12:19
110.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
10-10 in Colorado in the fifth betwn Dodgers and Rockies.

Is Josh Beckett pitching for both teams?

2006-09-28 14:34:58
111.   Peter
108 That's still one nasty looking lineup. I don't know if it's fair to call it "house money."
2006-09-28 14:36:13
112.   murphy
107 but wil calhoun has better footwork.

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