Tagged: AJ Burnett

So Let Me Get This Straight

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AJ Burnett got a six-game suspension for not hitting Nelson Cruz in Wednesday night’s Yankees-Rangers game, and Vincente Padilla got a fine for hitting Mark Teixeira twice? Does that sound reasonable to anyone? Oh, the mysteries of baseball.
Here’s another one that made my brain explode.
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It’s 2009. We can launch rockets into space, but we can’t figure out how to keep the YES Network on the air during Yankees games? I was watching Thursday’s series finale on YES. It was the top of the ninth with Mo on the mound to preserve the Yankees’ 8-6 lead. Young had doubled past Melky, who took an extremely odd route to the ball, and Blalock singled. So the Rangers had two men on with one out and the dangerous Nelson Cruz stepping up to the plate. I gripped the arms of my chair, fearing the worst, and then –
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Right. My TV went blank at the crucial moment. I started screaming: “How could you do this to me?” Then I remembered that my Extra Innings package was also offering the Rangers feed. I changed channels just in time to see Cruz strike out – and to hear my favorite broadcaster, Josh Lewin, say about Murphy, the next batter: “Let’s see if he can hit one into the seats.” Murphy popped up to end the game.
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Then there was this head scratcher.
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Wang retired the first six batters and looked like his old sinker-ball-throwing self. Then, in the third inning, Davis – yes, the guy who strikes out in his sleep – smacked a ground-rule double. Next came a wild pitch, a walk, a few singles, a few more doubles, and Cruz’s homer. Suddenly, it was 5-1 Texas and the Wanger headed for the dugout.
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After the game, Girardi announced that he would make his next start….on Tuesday at Fenway. Um, what? I’m all for letting CMW work out the kinks, but not when we’re trying to hang onto first place in the division. What will it do for his confidence if the Red Sox make this out of him?
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Yet another puzzler occurred in the fifth: Aceves walked his leadoff batter. Why, Alfredo? Why? Do they not teach the Do-Not-Walk-The-Leadoff-Batter Rule at Yankees School?
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But enough with the questions and complaints. It’s time to celebrate the Yankees’ latest stirring, come-from-behind victory. What a great fifth inning.
Cervelli: singled.
Pena: singled.
Damon: walked.
Swisher: walked (terrific at bat).
Tex: doubled home three runs.
A-Rod: went the other way for a change and singled in the go-ahead run.
Swisher was a happy boy crossing home plate in that inning and deservedly so.
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Things got tense in the sixth after Kinsler’s foul-pole homer off Aceves. But Melky was a late-inning magician once again.
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I used to think the word “clutch” meant a type of woman’s handbag.
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Well, it still does. But it also means this.
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And I was OK with trading the Melkman? My bad.
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Vigilante Justice In The Bronx

No, I’m not talking about AJ Burnett versus Nelson Cruz. By the time AJ threw over Cruz’s head in the fifth, prompting the home plate umpire to warn both dugouts, the Yankees had a comfortable 9-3 lead over the Rangers.
I’m talking about Mark Teixeira versus this guy.
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If Vincente Padilla is the Rangers’ idea of improved pitching, the Angels have nothing to worry about in the AL West.
When Padilla came in high and tight to Cano in the first inning, I figured it was just one of these.
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But when he plunked Tex on the arm in the second, I started to pay attention – especially since he also pitched inside to Jeter and went up and in on A-Rod. I said to my husband, “This guy better not go all Daniel Cabrera on us,” referring to the former Orioles pitcher who made a career out of disabling various Yankees.
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Then the fourth: Padilla hit Tex again, this time on the butt. Mark was not amused, and Girardi accompanied him to first base in an attempt to talk him down.
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But Tex continued to seethe, his nostrils flaring.
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When A-Rod grounded into a potential double play, Tex slid hard into second, lifting Andrus high into the air. (Elvis almost left the building.)
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Jeter scored the go-ahead run, and it was his 1,500th, making him the fourth such active player and placing him in the company of Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle as the only Yankees to achieve the mark.
The rest was gravy.
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Cano had a big RBI single. So did Posada. Matsui hit a three-run shot off Holland, Padilla’s replacement (the same guy he homered off in Texas last week). Posada added his own three-run dinger against Madrigal in the sixth, boosting the Yanks to 12-3.
AJ pitched well, even without his A-grade curve ball, and Bombko and Veras finished it up.
Did I cringe when Veras came in for the ninth? You bet, even with a nine-run lead. Michael Kay was yammering on yet again about what great stuff Jose has. “You don’t give up on a guy who throws 96 mph,” he said. 
Um, did he forget about Kyle?
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I digress. It was a very satisfying win for the Yanks, who now have the best record in the AL at 10 games over .500. The error-less streak is over, due to an errant throw by Posada, but I’ll take good pitching and timely hitting every time.

Another Ridiculous Day But With A Happy Ending

It feels as if I’m at war with the entire service industry. Yesterday, I battled Delta, American Express and Apple. Today, it was this place.

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Since I finally got my plane tickets for my New York trip, I figured the next item on my agenda was securing seats at Yankee Stadium. I bought tickets on StubHub.com, but when the site wouldn’t let me download them – and told me I hadn’t even made a purchase – I called their 800 number. It took them ONE HOUR to fix the problem and allow me to print out my tix. Come on, people! You’re making me crazy!
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The good news is I’ll be going to see the Yanks on Wednesday, June 17th – my first time at the new Stadium. They’re playing the Nationals, not exactly the team of my dreams, but who knows? It could be a great game. If anybody is planning to be there that night, please leave a comment. It would be fun to meet up.
Now, onto tonight’s 9-2 win over the Rangers, which not only gave us the series win but also put us into a tie for first with the Red Sox – and represented our 14th straight game without an error.
My highlights:
Tex going yard in the first inning.
Jeter getting on base five times.
Cash lining a double and a single AND throwing out Andrus.
Matsui knocking two out of the park.
Gardner bunting for a single and scoring.
Damon making two great running catches.
Robertson throwing strikes.
Wang finally making an appearance – and looking like Wang.
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And, of course, there was the brilliant outing by AJ. He wasn’t economical. He only lasted six innings. But he struck out seven and held the mighty Rangers offense to three measly hits. Good job, guy.
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My lowlights:
Veras serving up Kinsler’s two-run shot. ENOUGH ALREADY!
Swisher being our only option in right field.
Berroa “pinch running” with the speed of this.
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Luckily, I got the Rangers’ feed again tonight, which meant more merriment from their two crack broadcasters, Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve.
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They really make a game fun. Here’s a sample.
Josh, before the first pitch by Holland, the Rangers’ rookie starter: “Not to put any pressure on Holland, but it’s 79 degrees with low humidity.”
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Tom, assessing the Rangers so far this season: “The batters haven’t walked that often. And they have 376 strikeouts – the most in the major leagues. And the pitchers have the fewest strikeouts in the majors. It doesn’t matter.”
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Josh, referring to Saltalamacchia: “They traded Mark Teixeira for a bunch of green bananas, and Salty was the first to ripen.”
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Tom, after being told that AJ did not lead the majors in strikeouts last year as he’d thought: “I appreciate the correction. I don’t like to misinformation people.”
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Josh, after Matsui’s second homer: “Let’s change the subject. How much time have you spent in Japan, Tom?”
Tom: “I’ve never been to Japan, Josh.”
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Tom, after Cano
tacked on a homer in the ninth: “Cano is a pretty good hitter.”
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And my absolute favorite, after the game was over…
Josh: “The Yankees have an off-day in Cleveland tomorrow.”
Tom: “The Rangers have an off-day in Cleveland in August.”
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I’ll miss those two smooth talkers.

Crushed

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I know. It was one game. It’s a long season. Nothing lasts forever. Blah blah blah.
So much for platitudes. I’m crushed that the Yankees’ streak was broken, that they lost to the Phillies in the series opener 7-3, that I was forced to watch Brett Myers throw behind Jeter’s back. Myers pitched a great game, not counting homers to A-Rod, Jeter and Tex, and he was only retaliating for AJ’s plunking of Utley. But he earned my undying enmity nonetheless.
Speaking of AJ, he seemed out of sorts all night.
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He hung a few and they sailed straight into the seats. And he couldn’t have been happy to watch Damon trying to score on A-Rod’s shot to left in the first inning. I have no problem with being aggressive, but Ibanez and Rollins made perfect throws and Ruiz made an equally perfect tag. The result? Damon was out. The ball game went downhill from there.
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That completes the portion of this post regarding the Phillies.
Now a few moments about the Yankees. They looked flat as a pancake.
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Maybe it was a natural reaction to coming off back-to-back sweeps. Maybe it was a letdown after learning that Bruney was hurt again and Albaladejo was shipped to Scranton. Or maybe it was that they were playing an interleague series instead of a contest against a bona fide division rival. Personally, I have little interest in interleague games. Sure, they count, but they’re manufactured rivalries. “Oh, but you get to see players you wouldn’t ordinarily see,” say the advocates. Right. But I’d rather see them in the postseason when the best teams in each league go at it for real.
As for Wang, he was pulled from his Scranton rehab start because of the Yankees’ now-extremely-thin bullpen.
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It was a weird experiment. He came in for seventh and promptly left one up to Ibanez and got touched up for a couple of runs before settling down in the ninth. Will the outing give him confidence for his next start, whenever that will be? Or will he regress further? All I know is that the YES camera kept showing close-ups of him dripping with sweat, and it was mildly unnerving.
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Oh, well. The Yanks will have another crack at a new streak tomorrow. I hope they get a good night’s sleep. Or go partying. Whatever works for them is fine with me even if it’s this.
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(Flip Video Contest Winner Announced Tomorrow!)

Check That….Three Walkoffs Are Better Than Two

I know the Yankees aren’t going to stage dramatic comebacks every day, but this run of victories sure is fun while it lasts. Today’s 3-2 win over the Twins in 10 innings starred yet another hero: Johnny Damon. But honorable mention has to go to:

* Pena, subbing for Cano at second, for saving a run in the first.
* A-Rod for getting the Yanks on the board with a homer in the seventh.
* AJ for pitching six-plus innings of really good ball.
* Bombko for not giving up any bombs with bases loaded and one out in the eighth.
* Tex for making that incredible stab in the eighth on Span’s grounder, then throwing out Cuddyer from his knees.
* Mo for coming back after two innings last night to hold the Twins scoreless in the ninth.
* Aceves for blanking the Twins in the tenth.
And now….onto the hero himself. Wow. Yay. Hallelujah.

Like Death And Taxes, This Yankees Loss Was Inevitable

I wish I were one of those people who wears hats.

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If I’d had one on, I would have tipped it. What else can do you when Harry Halladay pitches a complete game against your team, limiting them to five hits and one puny run? 
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Harry was masterful in the Jays’ 5-1 victory over the Yanks. Our guy matched him in the early going, but after AJ’s fourth-inning problems it was clear that this was Harry’s night. He located his fast ball with precision, combined it with a devastating slider and/or cutter, and made the Yankees look as if they’d been tasered.
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Scott Rolen, who wasn’t even in my scouting report yesterday, provided the offensive muscle for the Jays.
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Damon continued to put the ball in play. He’s practically the only healthy player the Yankees have left, and I’m beginning to wonder if we have an adequate supply of these.
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It’s not bad enough that Wang, Posada, Molina and Bruney are on the DL? Now Jeter has a strained oblique and Matsui has a tight hammy and Coke has a stiff back. And that’s not counting A-Rod, who would have handled Rolen’s grounder in the second inning if he’d been even 75%. Despite his RBI single in the seventh, Al looked “washed out,” as my mother describes people who look slightly sick.
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AJ had a tough evening. Apparently, the Jays fans are mad at him not only for signing with the Yanks but for doing this last year in response to their booing of him.
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Oh, well. At least they didn’t throw things onto the turf at the Rogers Centre and disrupt the game. However, I was forced to watch the Jays’ feed, instead of the YES broadcast, and the camera kept showing us a man whose sign read: “AJ, you look fat in stripes.” Speaking of the Toronto announcers, every single time Halladay retired the side, they said: “Just what the Doc ordered.” They were so corny that by the ninth inning I was afraid I would do this.
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But all credit to Roy/Doc/Harry. He was nasty. In a good way. If you’re a fan of these.
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State Of Emergency

No, I’m not talking about the Yankees, although tonight’s 4-3 extra-innings loss to the Rays was a bitter one to swallow.

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With the wildfire raging (more on that in a sec), my electricity was out this afternoon but came back on just in time for the first pitch.
AJ looked sharp, striking out eight and keeping the Rays’ hitters off balance. Yes, he gave up three runs over six innings, but he more than allowed the Yankees to stay in it and I really enjoyed watching him work. He’s got that great snarl, not to mention filthy stuff, and I wouldn’t mind if he went out there every night. (I know. His arm would fall off. I’m just saying.)
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The Yankees’ offense? It was practically non-existent yet again. Swisher didn’t help, getting himself tossed in the seventh with the Yanks down 3-0. David Cone repeatedly said the umpire had a “quick hook,” but Swisher’s job was to stay in the game, not go off by himself to sulk.
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The bats finally came alive in the eighth against a tiring Sonnanstine and a shaky Howell. When Tex stepped in with bases loaded, I did my yelling-at-the-TV thing: “THIS IS YOUR BIG CHANCE! BE A HERO!” And suddenly he was the hero, tying the score with a double to left. I went completely nuts and started dancing around the house and talking to myself.
Then the rain. I sure wish New York would send some of it to California.
When Mo struck out Upton, Crawford and Longoria in the ninth, I danced around again. He hadn’t been on the mound in nearly a week and yet he was brilliant.
I was sure the Yanks would win it in the bottom of the inning (Ramiro Pena was safe at first – such a bad call), but nothing.
Onto the tenth. Why didn’t Joe bring Mo back out? It wasn’t as if he’d been taxed. It wasn’t as if he’d labored. It wasn’t as if there was ANY reason to call on ANYONE ELSE, and yet there was Coke pitching to Carlos Pena and serving up a fat one. Granted, Coke has been effective lately, but still. Mo is Mo. Why would you ever use another reliever when he’s available?
So much for the lame bottom of the tenth after Damon doubled. What a waste.
After the game, it was reality time. I switched to our local TV news and watched coverage of the fire, which had roared out of control and forced the Governator to declare a state of emergency. Businesses were closed. Over 8,000 people have been evacuated. And homes are going down. Santa Barbara is in bad shape.
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Planes have been dumping water and fire retardant on the affected areas all day, but the winds aren’t cooperating.
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My house isn’t directly affected right now, as I live a few canyons away from the one above. But I took the following photos this afternoon from my backyard deck, before the game. As you can see, the fire was definitely looming.
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It’s supposed to be hot again tomorrow (in the mid-90s/low 100s – bizarre for the season) and windy, so who knows what’s next. They predict the fire will head closer to me, toward the area that burned in November, which is actually good news; there’s nothing left to burn there. Another possibility is that it will turn toward the city of Santa Barbara itself. I don’t even want to contemplate that.
Having baseball to look forward to again tomorrow night, win or lose, is so small thing.

Me To Angels: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

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Let me state right up front that I’m not wild about the Angels. Why?
* Their manager whines a lot.
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* The name “Scioscia” is too hard to spell with any consistency and leaves me puzzled.
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* The team is forever associated with “small ball,” as if they invented the hit-and-run, the bunt and the stolen base. In reality, it’s just that they have some smallish players.
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* Mostly, it’s because they’ve beaten the Yankees over and over, always making us look like dead people.
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But not tonight. This time the Yanks were the 7-4 victors, and laughter rang out all over the Empire.
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AJ was shaky out of the gate, giving up a triple to Figgy (not to be confused with the fruit) and a solo shot to Napoli (not to be confused with the city of Naples or the Italian dessert beloved by Phil Rizzuto). Then he got it together and shut down the red-shirted ones.
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(There’s so much red when we play the Angels that my eyes burn.)
What I especially loved about this game was the Yankees’ offense. For the third night in a row, we kept battling back. Down 3-2 in the fourth, Jeter came up with one of his clutch, inside-out singles to right.
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Bobby Abreu, whose RBIs I miss but whose immobility in right field I don’t, bobbled the ball, allowing Swisher and Pena to score and put the Yankees ahead.
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But it was in the eighth when we really spanked the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
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Cano lined one to right that Abreu might have caught if he’d actually bent over. Posada’s ground-rule double came next, followed by Swisher’s intentional walk (good one, Soscia or Sosha or whatever it is), followed by Melky’s single.
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(Poor Gardner. He’s so screwed right now.)
When Pena’s double scored Posada and Swisher, that was it for the Halos. Coke and Mo finished them off and that was that. We beat them. We pitched well and Posada nailed a couple of base runners and the hits came in bunches.
But, of course, it was the Magic Pen that was ultimately responsible for the Yankees’ latest reversal of fortune. I rewarded it after the game by showering it with diamond rings and nestling it in Yankees satin. Nothing’s too good for the Magic Pen at this point. Nothing.
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Yanks/Sox Game 2: Looking On The Bright Side

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I’m not saying that losing the second of two back-to-back marathons against the Red Sox is easy. I mean, the Yanks scored nearly a dozen runs without our best hitter (A-Rod) and another big bat (Nady) and yet we didn’t win the game? That’s just grotesque.
But before I throw myself off the ledge following the 16-11 defeat, let me at least shoot for a little perspective.
Here are a ten fun things to take away from the game. Yes, fun!
#1) It was a good old-fashioned slugfest.
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#2) The Yankees hitters made Josh Beckett work.
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#3) We found out that AJ Burnett has the ability to go all Jekyll and Hyde on us at any moment.
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#4) The ancient Angel Berroa was in the lineup and succeeded in not making a single error.
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#5) We got to watch Dustin Pedroia do his best Bill Buckner imitation.
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#6) Tex walked five times.
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#7) Jose Veras had the delivery of a break dancer.
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#8) Pitchers on both teams were bad.
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#9) Joe Girardi and Terry Francona channeled Grady Little by leaving their starters in too long.
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#10) Nobody came down with swine flu during the nearly five-hour game.
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There. Feel better? I do.

What Kind Of A Fan Are You? Enter The Contest!

If you’ve been a frequent visitor to this blog, you’ve seen my occasional “She-Fan Cam” videos – clips of fans that I record on my always handy and totally addictive Flip Video camcorder.

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If you’re new here, let me give you an example.
Now it’s your turn to focus the Cam on someone, because one of you is about to win a Flip Video camcorder.
Here’s the deal.
I want a photo of your Favorite Fan Moment – a picture of you at your diehard fan best. Maybe you’ll be in the stands at whichever ballpark you call home. Or maybe you’ll be sitting in front of the TV in full team regalia. Or maybe you’ll be scoring an autograph from a player. Your call. The point is to show you being a fan and loving it.
All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know you’d like to participate. And I’ll respond and let you know where and how to send the photo.
I’ll look over all the pics and choose my top five. Then I’ll post the five and you’ll vote for the Favorite Fan Moment.
The winner will receive a Flip Video Cam directly from Pure Digital. You won’t believe how easy to use this gadget is. For starters, it’s tiny – smaller than a cell phone and light enough to tuck in your pocket (perfect for slipping past surly security people at your local stadium). You just point it in the direction of your subject, hit the red “record” button, and you’re good to go.
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I kept cutting off people’s heads the first day I got mine, but it’s really a no-brainer, even for technically challenged me.
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When you’ve finished recording, you plug the Cam into your computer, download your videos and have fun. You can email them to friends or upload them on YouTube or make movies complete with music and credits. So many options.
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I know. I sound like some cheesy infomercial right now. But seriously. I’ve had such a great time with my Cam that I wanted others to have the same experience. So I asked the people at Flip Video if they’d be up for giving one away to a deserving fan, and they agreed!
And no, this contest isn’t just for Yankee fans. It’s for anybody and everybody who’s passionate about baseball. Is that you? Then get to work!
Speaking of the Yankees, I was relieved (understatement) that they bounced back from Saturday’s debacle and beat the Indians 7-3. AJ didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept the Yanks in it, as did the relief corps of Albaladejo, Bruney and Mo. There were some really nice defensive plays by Ransom and Tex (I’m still pinching myself that we have a guy who makes Mattingly-like grabs at first base), in addition to Posada’s homer and Ransom’s double (many thanks to Choo for that one).
Now we take on the A’s for three games. It’ll be weird seeing Giambi back with Oakland. I wonder if he’ll be wearing his thong.