Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2007-05-14 05:38
by Alex Belth

When they hit, they don't pitch, when they pitch, they don't hit (nevermind the fielding). The Yankees lost a heartbreaker, 2-1 yesterday. The Bombers had two men on with one out in the seventh, but came up empty when Minky hit into a double play. Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with two men on in the eighth and was blown away. Then in the ninth, JJ Putz struck out the side, despite giving up a one-out double to Hideki Matsui.

Johnny Damon told the Times:

"We need to start closing the gap real soon," Damon said. "I think the next month is really important. We get Rocket back in about three weeks. When we get him back, we need to be within five. We can't keep losing ground.

"Granted, if the Red Sox keep playing the way they are, nobody's going to catch them. They're playing at about a .750 clip. That's pretty good, and they've been able to stay healthy. I think if we were a little healthier, we probably could be within three or four. But we haven't swung the bats consistently enough or pitched consistently enough to merit that right now."

Bobby Abreu drew his first walk in 61 at bats yesterday but is mired in a 2-22 skid, and is experiencing what is far and away, the worst slump of his career. According to the Daily News:

Joe Torre believes that the Yankees' 17-19 record has made it more difficult for Abreu to find a groove, as he is trying to right himself and spark his team at the same time.

"It's the pride factor and the responsibility factor; his biggest problem right now in his mind is letting people down," Torre said. "I think he'd have an easier time snapping out of this thing if we had been winning a lot more."

The Yankees have the day off today and then play three in the Windy City before heading to Shea to play the Mets this weekend. Joe Torre, however, has returned to New York to be with his ailing brother, Frank.

Comments (59)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-05-14 06:15:20
1.   Simone
I'm being optimistic and thinking Wild Card if the pitching continues to be solid and hitting improves. The Red Sox will come back to earth, but I don't see the Yankees catching up.
2007-05-14 06:35:55
2.   C2Coke
1 Wild Card is not optimistic enough! I believe they will turn it around. Yes it's not early in the season anymore but they still have 120 something games left to play. Winning 63 to 65% in rest of the games will give them a great record to win the division. If not, remember 2005?
2007-05-14 06:50:58
3.   Blogcat
Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Inexplicably dreadful. "Inexplicable" because there is no rationalizing why they were unable to push more than a run across against Ramirez. Horatio lobs batting practice-caliber pitches over the meat of the plate that top out at 85 mph and have less movement than my wheelchair-bound grandmother. And we're playing all of our starters and that's the best we've got?!

What's the excuse now? We're not injured, the Mariners are not only mediocre, their pitchers are garbage, and we can't even take 2-out-of-3 from them!? Pitiful. What a digusting, disgraceful series.

And now the real pain's about to start: The Dodgers, the Mets, Boston? We can kiss the 07 post-season goodbye. I've should've been an Oakland fan...

2007-05-14 06:51:28
4.   Blogcat
Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Inexplicably dreadful. "Inexplicable" because there is no rationalizing why they were unable to push more than a run across against Ramirez. Horatio lobs batting practice-caliber pitches over the meat of the plate that top out at 85 mph and have less movement than my wheelchair-bound grandmother. And we're playing all of our starters and that's the best we've got?!

What's the excuse now? We're not injured, the Mariners are not only mediocre, their pitchers are garbage, and we can't even take 2-out-of-3 from them!? Pitiful. What a digusting, disgraceful series.

And now the real pain's about to start: The Chisox, the Mets, Boston? We can kiss the 07 post-season goodbye. I should've been an Oakland fan...

2007-05-14 08:22:01
5.   Peter
2 I agree. It's still too early to pack it in. Baseball has a way of correcting itself and I find it hard to believe the Yankees and Red Sox are both going to continue to play at these levels from now through September. The pitching finally seems to be coming around. Abreu and Cano will start hitting again. The Yanks are ready to go on a tear.
2007-05-14 08:36:36
6.   williamnyy23
2 Remember 2005 is a nice rallying cry, but it isn't very realistic. By this time, that team was in the midst of a 10-game winning streak (mostly by romping Seattle, against whom the 2007 Yankees just went 3-4). Also, the Yanks only trailed Boston by 4.5, not 8.

This is 2007...we need to look at the current team and not the past. While it is ok to HOPE the team can play 9 games better than the Red Sox, I think a more rational expectation is the Wild Card.

4 Then be an Oakland fan. This season might be the first real test for the recent generation of Yankee fans (I'm not saying you are one). When the going gets tough, the bandwagon fans get going. While I don't think a fan HAS to be optimistic, abandoning the team is a no-no.

2007-05-14 08:47:14
7.   Murray
Alex, Alex, Alex: if a batter reaches base in an inning, then the pitcher, even if he records three strikeouts in the inning, has not struck out the side. After all, the batter who reached base was part of "the side" that batted in the inning. It's a common mistake that writers, broadcasters and fans make all the time, but this group should know better.
2007-05-14 08:55:46
8.   David
It's past time to get a new manager. Torre should have been replaced after last season IMHO. He might have been fired a couple of weeks ago when the Yanks were doing so badly. They seemed to improve, but haven't really done so.

The manager gets credit when the players win. He should get the blame when they don't.

2007-05-14 09:10:41
9.   RIYank
I'm optimistic about how well the Bombers will play for the rest of the season, but I have to agree that we're so deep in the hole that Wild Card is a more realistic ambition. In any case, I won't be worrying much about how well the Red Sox do (unless we're playing them!).

7 Murray, I've sure heard it used a lot the way Alex used it. Are you sure that's a misuse? Your reasoning is not at all convincing. After all, when we say "he finally got the side out", we don't mean the pitcher got out everybody who batted. Anyway, both usages make sense to me and I'd like to see some authoratative source.

2007-05-14 09:18:41
10.   Schteeve
I don't think that a managerial change, or lack thereof will significantly alter the Yankees fate this year.

I won't be upset if they get rid of Torre, but I don't think it will help things in any real way.

2007-05-14 09:25:56
11.   seattleyank
I was at the game yesterday and man did they look lifeless. Part of me wonders if the new testing for "greenies" is impacting this team more than others because of its advanced age. Of course, that doesn't explain how Jeter and Jorge still get it done and Cano doesn't look like he could hit a softball.

Also, remember when this team actually had a bench and didn't have to pinch hit with guys like Minky? Plus, for as much as I wish Minky wasn't on the team, I now understand why Phelps doesn't play more, having seen him in person. We felt relieved every time he actually caught a throw from an infielder. He's somewhere between a statue and a traffic cone.

Sadly, I think the highlight of the game was when the young girl behind me yelled, "Jeter, you smell bad and your mom dresses you funny."

2007-05-14 09:37:49
12.   seamus
As I said in a previous post, the Yankees have gained +7 games on Boston on AVERAGE over each of the last five years between May 13th and the end of the year.

6 We only had to gain a handful of games in 2005. In 2006, each of the AL division winners gained more than 8 games on their main competition as of May 13, 2006. 3 out of 3 division winners did that, including the Yankees.

2007-05-14 09:40:20
13.   Shaun P
11 Phelps' one redeeming virtue is that he can hit. Why pinch hit for him with Mr. GIDP (my new name for Minky)? BTW, his 3 GIDP in 86 ABs translates into over 20 for a 600 AB season. That's awful. He has come to the plate with 78 runners on base, and he's driven in 8 (barely 11%). That's beyond awful. (Note that doesn't count when he's driven himself in via HR.) Only Cairo, who has no RBIs, and Nieves, who has 1, have a worse percentage. Why use him as a pinch hitter?

Nonetheless, the talent is otherwise there. No team is going to win often when half its lineup is in a slump. The Yanks will come out of it.

2007-05-14 09:45:54
14.   Murray
6 I'm sorry this sounds snotty, but it is almost impossible to convey a point about usage and style in any other way. Rest assured that the comments contained herein are not personal. Yes, "struck out the side" is used to mean three strikeouts in an inning all the time by people who don't know better and haven't stopped to think about the difference. Who do you think most sportswriters and sportscasters are, Strunk and White?

The team in the field retires the "side"--which is the team at bat--when the team at bat makes its third out of the half inning. A player on the side who doesn't strike out is not removed from the side. He's part of it. It really is simple.

As for common usages, people use the word "ironically" incorrectly all the time, too (especially sportscasters). People use the word "hopefully" incorrectly all the time. People say they "could care less" to mean they "couldn't care less" all the time. Common use doesn't make the usage correct by consensus. It means a lot of people have no idea what they're saying and why it's wrong.

2007-05-14 09:52:21
15.   williamnyy23
12 Your on average is misleading because it is skewed heavily by last season. Also, even if the average is a fair barometer, the Yankees current defecit already falls below 7 games.

Your data give support to the claim that the Yankees winning the division is still POSSIBLE, but it does nothing to strengthen the argument that it is LIKELY.

2007-05-14 09:56:20
16.   seamus
15 Well, being 8 games down always reduces the likelihood. The average isn't really misleading though. Every year for the last five years that Yankees have gained games on Boston. In two of those five years, if 8 games back on may 13th, the Yanks would have won. That is a 40% probability. Not "likely" but those are good chances. ANd keep in mind, that only addresses Boston and the division. We win 95 games and we are almost definitely in the playoffs.
2007-05-14 09:56:49
17.   williamnyy23
14 Your explanation does sound snotty...what's more, it isn't very convincing. You haven't provided any evidence to support your claim that the only correct usage for "struck out the side" refers to when all batters in the inning go down on strikes. Merely insisting that the way you use the term is correct isn't very compelling.
2007-05-14 10:06:40
18.   williamnyy23
16 I don't think I and others have given up on the Wild Card. Instead, we have been addressing the division. I am not disputing that the deficit has been made up in the past, nor that it can be made up this season. Instead, I'm objectively looking at the state and position of both teams and coming to the conclusion that the Yankees do not have a very good chance of winning the division. I want them to...and hope they do...but think they have dug too deep a hole.
2007-05-14 10:14:05
19.   RIYank
"The team in the field retires the "side"--which is the team at bat--when the team at bat makes its third out of the half inning."
Yeah. So, when the side (= team) makes it's third out, it is retired. And when the side is struck out three times, it is struck out. So that's striking out the side.

I'm not insisting on this usage, I'm just saying it seems perfectly logical to me. So I have to see an argument or a good authority to be convinced that there's anything wrong with it. (I feel exactly the same way about Strunk & White, by the way. E. B. White says plenty of things in that little book that I think are ridiculous and I don't believe him merely because he's a very good writer.)

2007-05-14 10:31:39
20.   Just fair
I am truly annoyed at the current standings. I am by no means going to think the AL East race is a done deal for Boston. A simultaneous hot streak for the Yanks and cold streak for the Sox, and before you know it, the lead is cut down to a number far better looking than 8.
8 games back in Mid-August, it is time to think about next year. 8 games back on May 14th, just start winning some series and see what happens. The talk of the wild card today is simply conceding the last 126 games of the year. Lastly, I would like to see Torre flip out over a blown call on the basebaths every now and then. I know it is not his style, but It wouldn't hurt, and it would make me happy.
2007-05-14 10:43:03
21.   JL25and3
11 What's so sad about that? A jeer that good (assuming the girl was young enough) would be the highlight of a lot of games.
2007-05-14 11:02:34
22.   SteveF
19 I think the counter argument would be that the guy who doubled is part of the side. So since you didn't strike him out, you haven't struck out the side in its entirety, and thus can't be said to have struck out the side.

Not that, you know, this actually matters.

2007-05-14 11:09:23
23.   Orly Yarly NoWai
On a lighter note:

HT: Deadspin

2007-05-14 11:15:10
24.   AbbyNormal821
23 That's hysterical...and yet, kind of gross at the same time! LOL!
2007-05-14 11:24:38
25.   Schteeve
If they are more than 6 games out after the next Boston series...I'm going to have to find a new hobby.

This shit is depressing.

2007-05-14 11:38:42
26.   Simone
25 Don't be depressed. The Yankees have a good shot at the Wild Card.

23 Hilarious.

2007-05-14 11:57:19
27.   seamus
Dragging this from yesterday's thread. Last year's eventual division winners (of which only the Yanks were in first place). The White Sox and Texas were in 1st on May 13th. Here is how the division winners gained between this date and the end of the year.

Yankees +10.5 games on Boston
Minnesota +12.5 games on Chicago
Oakland +15 on Texas

8 games is not only doable on occasion, it is frequently doable.

2007-05-14 11:59:24
28.   Dan M
I have no authority to rely on other than my memory, but I side with Murray. My recollection is that commentators used to use the phrase when then the pitcher struck out all 3 batters he faced, but that modern-day commentators (the most egregious being Kay) have bastardized the phrase. I concur with the counter-argument in 22 - you can't strike out the side if some members of the side don't strike out.
2007-05-14 12:03:54
29.   weeping for brunnhilde
14 While we're being pedantic (and I mean that affectionately), I'd like to mention a far, far worse sin: "Complete-game shutout."

I wince each and every time I hear it.

2007-05-14 12:20:30
30.   Murray
29 That's a bad one. "Grand slam home run" is pretty bad to my ears. Notwithstanding Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS, a grand slam can't be anything other than a home run.
2007-05-14 12:27:36
31.   AbbyNormal821

"a grand slam can't be anything other than a home run"

I beg to differ (but I'm also hungry right now, so I'm not thinking baseball terms:


2007-05-14 12:33:02
32.   Dan M
Could "complete game shutout" be in contrast to a "combined shutout"? So, while the phrase is redundant when used in reference to an individual, it might be useful when refering to the team.
2007-05-14 12:35:03
33.   Count Zero
Optimistic/Pessimistic...5 games/8 games/10 games. Doesn't matter.

I'm not a big Torre fan, but he's right about one thing: one step at a time. If this team plays .650 ball the rest of the way (99 wins), they will almost certainly be playing games in mid-October. With Rocket and the Bottle Rocket on the way, I see .650 from here on as extremely do-able.

It's too early in the season for scoreboard watching. Right now, what we need to do is start playing good ball day in day out -- everything else will take care of itself. If we don't start playing better soon, what the rest of the AL does will be irrelevant.

2007-05-14 12:40:12
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
32 Hmmm...

I don't know.

You can say "The Yankees shut out the Orioles behind the efforts of three pitchers" but no shutout is recorded, is it?

The Orioles were shut out, but no shutout is recorded.

There's no such category on the books as "combined shutout," is there?

It's just a description, not a term.

And besides, when people refer to a complete-game shutout, what they really mean to do is to distinguish that effort from that of the guy who pitches 7 scoreless innings, which is no more a shutout than 7 perfect innings is a perfect game.

Ok, that's enough of that, isn't it?--this is getting a bit daffy.


2007-05-14 12:41:52
35.   seamus
were y'all listening to the grammar girl podcasts this morning?
2007-05-14 12:51:32
36.   RIYank
Who's Grammar Girl?

I have to admit I'm fond of Language Log (a blog).

Weeping, if we win a rain-shortened game 2-0, couldn't that be a shutout that isn't a complete game?

Dan M 28] "you can't strike out the side if some members of the side don't strike out. "
Hold on--plenty of members of the "side" don't even bat, so if you can't strike out the side without striking out all of its members, then you can't do it at all!

Somebody has to come up with something else to take our minds off the sub-.500 record. Even we pedants won't be able to keep this subtopic going much longer...

2007-05-14 13:03:40
37.   jkay
Looks line Randy Johnson has a case of Rocket envy...........

"Johnson did not travel with the Diamondbacks to Houston for a weekend series against the Astros, according to the Arizona Republic. Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin claimed there is nothing wrong with the left-hander and that he will start on Tuesday at Colorado."

2007-05-14 13:03:53
38.   weeping for brunnhilde
36 ha ha ha ha hah!

Ok, uncle.

I suppose you have me there: such a game would indeed be recorded as a...

wait a minute, no, I think that's still a complete game, isn't it?

The game is "complete" according to regulations, which stipulate that such a game, though it be only 6 innings, is "official" and therefore "complete."


(This is fun! :)

"Somebody has to come up with something else to take our minds off the sub-.500 record. Even we pedants won't be able to keep this subtopic going much longer... "

ha ha hah ah. :)

All right, I'll bite: how 'bout that Arod, striking out in ignominious fashion last night!

The man could at least have put the baseball in play, for all the dollars they pay him!

2007-05-14 13:12:47
39.   seamus
38 oh no not again!


2007-05-14 13:16:46
40.   JL25and3
34 If "The Yankees shut out the Orioles behind the efforts of three pitchers," that's exactly how it is recorded. The Yankees get credited with a shutout, but no individual pitcher does. Last year, Wang was the only pitcher credited with a shutout, but the team recorded 8.

I don't see the difference in structure between "retiring the side" and "striking out the side." The former doesn't have to be three straight batters, so I don't see why it should be required for the latter.

2007-05-14 13:24:57
41.   RIYank
So, this past weekend I went to a game between the Providence Grays and the New Hampshire Granite. These are recreation teams, not in the sense of recreational activity but re-creation of nineteenth century baseball. It was fun. Six balls to walk, batters can call for high or low pitch, pitcher's box just 50 feet from the plate. And no gloves worn, except for the catcher.

The original Grays of 1884 won the (first?) world championship of baseball. They went 84-28, and Charley Radbourn pitched 73 complete games, going 59-12 with a 1.38 ERA. (His total innings pitched rivaled Proctor's.)

2007-05-14 13:40:36
42.   weeping for brunnhilde


40 Thanks!

41 Wow! How cool is that! I've never heard of that before; is it just a Rhode Island thing?

And how does the calling for a pitch thing work? Pitchers make their best, good faith effort to serve up the ball as per order?

Just 50 feet?

How hard do they throw?

No gloves? Does that effect the way guys field? Can you see them shying away from line drives and such?

Do they try to sort of cradle the ball with both palms as they bring their hands back to absorb shock?

Or is the ball just made out of old rags?

2007-05-14 13:40:56
43.   seamus
41 that does sound like a lot of fun. when you say batters can call for high or low pitch, that means what exactly? THey yell out "high" and the pitcher must throw it high? What happens if it is low?
2007-05-14 13:42:03
44.   seamus
41 and see 42. i have a lot of the same questions but was tooshy to ask.
2007-05-14 13:45:16
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
41 Oh yeah, and what about helmets? Do they wear helmets?
2007-05-14 13:47:52
46.   RIYank
The league that the Grays are in is a New England league. Different teams play by slightly different rules (e.g., the Granites play by 1888 rules), so usually you get a double header with one game by each team's rules.

The batter informs the ump which height of pitch he wants, and the umpire calls it out to the pitcher.
If a batter calls for a low pitch and the pitch is above the waist, say, then it's a ball.
I'd say they throw about as hard as decent high school players, no harder.

Nobody seriously attempts to field a line drive in the infield! Even fly balls to the outfield are quite an adventure. And throws to first have a lot of arc, to increase the chance of the 1bman actually catching it. (Kevin Millar, take note!)

The ball is a real ball, but quite a bit softer than today's balls. And they basically play the whole game with one ball (if a ball has to be replaced, because the yarn is hanging out or it gets lost or something, they replace it with an old ball). So it's a whole lot easier to hit in the first inning -- after that the ball gets seriously out of shape and soft.

2007-05-14 13:48:19
47.   RIYank
No helmets.
2007-05-14 13:48:49
48.   RIYank
44 Yeah, I always thought you were kind of tooshy.
2007-05-14 13:50:36
49.   seamus
48 yeah, my rep is well known.
2007-05-14 13:50:36
50.   RIYank
Sorry, I shouldn't have said 'waist'. A low pitch is knees to belt, a high pitch is belt to shoulders.

Another cool rule: if you get a free base on a BB or a balk, you have to run. If you walk, you're liable to be put out!

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-05-14 13:54:30
51.   weeping for brunnhilde
46 Wow, that's pretty f'ing cool.

Especially the part about the one ball.

Dooes the league have a website or something?--I'm in CT, and I'd love to check it out.

2007-05-14 13:57:57
52.   weeping for brunnhilde
50 Wait, what?

Ok, you get a BB but can still be put out?

Is there a timer or something giving you x seconds to haul your ass to first base?

They should implement such a rule for the likes of people like Manny, btw. If you showboat for more than say two seconds, the umpire is empowered to give the catcher a new ball and declare it in play. Run your ass, Manny.

2007-05-14 14:01:38
53.   RIYank
I just tried to post this but it didn't take -- my apologies if it comes up twice.
Here's the web site for the Hartford Dark Blues, who actually play in South Winsor.

There are also a few NY teams -- I thought it was only New England.

52 There's no timer, ump's discretion. And boy did they have discretion in those days. They could impose steep fines for all kinds of bad behavior. (The new league decided to keep the fines at the old 1800s level, and I doubt they're ever enforced. It's just for fun.)
Yeah, I was thinking of Manny. I believe many fans would appreciate reinstating that rule.

2007-05-14 14:02:01
54.   Dan M
Not that wikipedia is the end-all, be-all, but: "A pitcher is said to 'strike out the side' when he retires all three batters in a half inning by striking them out." I.e., he faces only 3 batters.

2007-05-14 15:04:52
55.   weeping for brunnhilde
53 Cheers, RI!

I look forward to checking them out. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention!

2007-05-14 15:29:36
56.   3rd gen yankee fan
23 Holy TF^W%R%^@!!! That made my day. Screw all this fretting, baseball is awesome.
2007-05-14 15:34:06
57.   Peter
Here's the website for the Vintage Base Ball Association. They have clubs in 19 different states.

2007-05-14 18:44:07
58.   Orly Yarly NoWai
IIRC, Jim Bouton is involved in that to some degree.
2007-05-14 21:50:58
59.   MARH
54 Two can play at the Wikipedia game: "A pitcher is said to 'strike out the side' when he retires all three batters in a half inning by striking them out, not necessarily in a row".

... and while we're at it, "In such instances of controversy, most linguists fall heavily on the descriptive side of the argument, accepting forms as correct or acceptable when they achieve general currency."

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