Even though I’ve lived in California for a long time, I still subscribe to New York magazine. Can’t help myself. I love their articles, and the recent one in which Will Leitch asked a panel of experts (including Al Leiter) whom they thought qualified as New York’s Greatest Athlete Ever was one of my faves. Among the candidates:
It’s a really interesting article and I urge people to read it if they haven’t already – and then weigh in. A case was certainly made for Jeter, Gehrig and Ruth but Mays had one very loyal supporter. If they had asked me, I’d have said “Mariano Rivera,” but I’m not objective when it comes to him.
Turning to present day events, it appears that Rafael Soriano will be officially introduced by the Yankees tomorrow. I’ve read so much about his temperament; how he refused to pitch more than one inning for the Rays and had hissy fits about this or that. We don’t need divas on this team, so if he pulls any crap I have no doubt that the aforementioned Mo will take him aside and gently but firmly explain the facts of life in Yankeeville.
Here’s the headline that generated my laughter today.
It was from a blog on NESN that was brought to my attention by Paul Lebowitz’s blog earlier. Now don’t get me wrong; the Red Sox made terrific deals to upgrade their team this off-season, and my Red Sox fan friends (yes, I do have a few) are rightfully delirious with their shiny new acquisitions, just as we were when CC, AJ and Tex landed in our laps. But “the greatest team in major league history?”
That’s just plain hilarious. For starters, I wouldn’t be caught dead writing a headline like that, given how superstitious I am. (Talk about a jinx.) For another thing, isn’t it a little nutty to make such a grandiose prediction this early, particularly after 2010 when the Red Sox were supposed to be locked and loaded and instead ended up sending everybody to the DL? And finally, the author of this masterpiece decided to compare the 2011 Red Sox with the 1927 Yankees?
There’s a reason the ’27 Yanks were called “Murderers’ Row.” (And it wasn’t because they had a bunch of murderers on the team, which reminds me: Did everyone read about O’s pitcher Simon? Allegedly, he shot and killed a guy in the Dominican over the weekend and wounded another. I hate when that happens.) Babe Ruth hit 60 homers that year and Gehrig 47, and the others in the lineup were no slouches either. The team dominated, absolutely dominated. So my question is this…Will the 2011 Red Sox dominate in the same way? Can any team dominate in the same way, given the competition these days? And who would comprise Boston’s Murderers’ Row? Crawford and Gonzalez are really good but are they Ruth and Gehrig? Are Pedroia and Youkilis? No doubt they’ll all score a ton of runs, but I’m just not ready to anoint them as the “greatest team in major league history.” That’s like saying the chicken and barley stew I made last night was the “greatest comfort food in culinary history.” I mean, it was excellent, if I do say so myself, but….Well, you get my drift.
BREAKING NEWS: It looks like after a day of media reports that the two sides were far apart in their contract negotiations, Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter have met and decided to make a deal. I’m very relieved, to say the least.
No, not because the Yankees beat the Red Sox, although beating the Red Sox is always sweet. And not because our offense (with the help of a couple of miscues by Boston), made quick work of Beckett, although sending him to the showers is very satisfying. The reason I loved this game is because it proved yet again that you never know what will happen when two teams go at it. Which is another way of saying that what looks like a pitching mismatch on paper might not be a mismatch after all.
So, when I heard that A.J. had a back problem and would be replaced by Dustin Moseley, who’s been a pretty good spot starter but isn’t exactly a Cy Young Award winner, I figured we were toast.
But then the Yanks put two runs on the board early and Moseley held the lead, giving up a homer to Hall but otherwise throwing with poise and efficiency. What’s more, he made a couple of great defensive plays and was just plain impressive. When Joe pulled him in the seventh, the crowd gave him a well deserved standing O.
I kept thinking, as John Sterling is fond of saying, “Who would have predicted this?” Does it mean that Moseley will be brilliant his next time out? No. That’s the point. Anything can happen on any given day in baseball. Just ask Brandon Morrow of the Jays. I doubt he was expecting to miss a no-hitter by a hair. And what were the odds that the Orioles would go 5-1 under Showalter today? Getting back to the Yankees, did I expect Jeter to break Babe Ruth’s hits record in tonight’s game? Or that A-Rod would record his 300th stolen base? Or that Tex would bang out his 25th homer in a season that started off awfully slowly for him?
OK, there was one thing that was entirely predictable: Mo threw one pitch and got one out to end the game. Sometimes predictability is very welcome.
I thought it would be fun to put myself in a Yankees frame of mind with a little mood food. Not that I wasn’t jazzed before I watched this video or that Girardi’s team building trip to the arcade wasn’t worth writing about (sort of). I just needed something really Yankee-ish to look at – something that reminded me why I love this team, its history and all the pleasures it’s brought me. Yes, the video’s long and it’s been around awhile. And Yankee haters should avert their gaze or they’ll turn to salt. But for those who’ve got the time, watch and enjoy…and let’s discuss.
* I loved how the video moved so easily from black-and-white to color.
* I noticed for the first time how Babe Ruth’s lefty swing wasn’t all that different from Ichiro’s, the way he moves toward first base as he swings.
* I forgot how huge Lou Gehrig was – a cement block.
* I didn’t really need the audio when it’s introduced in the modern clips; there was something pure and simple about the old days when the footage spoke for itself.
* Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter. Think about it, people. He didn’t have a right hand.
* When Jeter dives into the stands, it still makes me go, “No! Don’t hurt yourself!”
* The players of yesterday really aren’t that different from today’s; they all love the game.
Good luck tomorrow against the Pirates, Yankees. I’ll be watching.
Today is Babe Ruth’s birthday. I thought it was only fitting – on the eve of the Super Bowl – to post audio of his final words at Yankee Stadium. His voice was hoarse and scratchy, due to his cancer, but his message came through loud and clear: baseball, not football, is America’s Pastime. I couldn’t agree more.
The other day on this blog, while I was wishing my mother a Happy Birthday, I mentioned that she had given me Babe Ruth’s autograph when I was in high school. Apparently, she and my father were out for dinner in NYC on October 5th, 1943, the night before he was going into the Army, and Babe and his buddies were sitting at the next table. In true She-Fan style, she waltzed over and asked him to sign her menu. My husband Michael took a picture of the autograph.
I wish I could have been at that dinner (I didn’t come into the world for quite a number of years), because I would love to have asked Babe a million questions, plus coax him to say a few words on the She-Fan Cam. Among my questions:
* Did you really “call” that home run?
* Did you and Gehrig get along?
* Do you think there will come a time when players use illegal drugs to enhance their performance?
Since an interview with the Babe wasn’t possible, here’s a substitute.
OK, that’s stretching it. But Hideki, who is very likely finishing up his final season in pinstripes, has been belting homers lately. He hit two in Seattle on Thursday night, two in Boston on Friday night and two in Boston tonight. Not too shabby for a guy whose knees are so bad he has to keep having them drained.
His wife must be very proud (if she really exists).
He wasn’t the only Bomber to hit bombs off Beckett in the Yankees’ 8-4 series win at Fenway.
Jeter in the first: Boom!
Cano in the fourth: Boom!
A-Rod in the fifth: Boom!
It was that sort of night. And CC provided the power from the mound. Wouldn’t you be scared to hit against a guy that looked like this?
He went six-plus, didn’t walk a batter and threw 118 pitches, giving up four runs, three earned, and staying focused even when his defense let him down. He was a beast, plain and simple. Watch him roar.
(Here, kitty kitty. That lion has seriously scary teeth. CC, on the other hand, can afford a good dentist.)
Hughes and Mo came in to finish the Sox off, and the Yankees left town with a 7.5 game lead in the division.
But all was not perfect tonight. Cano made two errors. (Maybe he needs a few days off, Joe.) And Damon did one of his flying Wallenda acts in left field.
Still, it was a spectacular road trip that Yankee fans have to feel pumped about. Sure, there’s over a month to go, and if I were Brian Cashman I’d try to pick up better pitching insurance than Mitre or Gaudin. I wouldn’t mind another glove in the outfield, either. But I’m as optimistic about the postseason as a pessimist can be. I’m seeing the glass half full.
P.S. I’m passing along a photo that was sent to me the other day. A Yankee she-fan from Texas read my book while she was on vacation in Hawaii and wanted me to see the proof. Thanks, Mary. Very thoughtful of you.
This Just In….
The results of a groundbreaking study of randomly selected baseball fans strongly indicates that the 2009 Home Run Derby not only relieved the symptoms of insomnia but promoted a deep and restful sleep.
Scientists cited several reasons for the Derby’s unexpectedly soporific effect on humans:
1) the lackluster performances by the participants as compared to the 2008 contest.
2) the seemingly endless multi-rounds format.
3) the “back, back, back” from ESPN’s Chris Berman.
4) the realization that the event was basically batting practice with a lot more media.
That said, the group conducting the study was quick to praise the Derby’s winner, Prince Fielder, and issued congratulations to him, his team and his family.
The group further stated that the 2009 Home Run Derby was equal to, if not better than, the following remedies for sleeplessness:
watching grass grow
watching paint dry
Upon learning of the group’s findings, Major League Baseball immediately contacted She-Fan seeking ways the Derby could keep people awake during future events. I was flattered to be consulted about such a weighty matter, and offered a few suggestions.
“First, guarantee the viewing public that a Bronx Bomber is participating,” I said. “Yankee fans will be eager to see him succeed; Yankee haters will be on the edge of their seats hoping he’ll fail. If he’s a polarizing Yankee, so much the better.”
“Second, make the contest more challenging by blindfolding the hitters.”
“Third, encourage the hitters to take the rivalry seriously in order for a brawl to ensue.”
“And finally, consider bringing back home runs hitters from the Great Beyond. A Derby that pits Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx against each other would be incredibly entertaining for those of us who never got to see them play.”
Bud Selig seemed intrigued by my ideas and said he would give them serious thought. He also asked me to stand by in case the All-Star Game turned out to be equally dull as dishwater. Then he pressed his palms together and prayed that the National League would win in extra innings.
That’s what A.J. told the media after giving up seven runs, six earned, over four-plus innings against the Pirates. The Yankees went on to win 9-8, but Burnett said his mechanics were off.
My mechanics were off too, since it’s Sunday, but I didn’t fall apart.
(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
Here’s my point. I understand that pitchers sometimes feel out of whack, but isn’t there anything that can be done to get them back in whack? During the game? Isn’t that what pitching coaches are for? To trot out to the mound and say, “Your shoulder is flying open” or “You need to slow it down” or “I heard there’s a great buffet at the Hyatt tonight?” Why can’t pitchers get back in whack while they’re pitching?
Here’s some video of A.J. warming up before a spring training game last year. I couldn’t throw a ball 90 mph to save my life, so I’m no expert. But does it look that hard to stay in whack?
All I know is that I was feeling out of whack earlier today. But then I read that the Yankees have decided to crown Brett Gardner as the starting center fielder. The news reminded me of another Yankees outfielder who once wore a crown, and suddenly I was right back in whack.
Joe Girardi explained: “Melky played very well, but we’re just going to go with Gardy.”
Gardy. Isn’t that the nickname for this guy?
Is baseball ready for two Gardys? I am. Nothing against Melky, but I love watching Gardy run the bases. If he can hit with any consistency, the Yankees will have a huge weapon.
As for Melky, I guess he’ll be dealt or kept on as an extra outfielder/bench player/defensive replacement in late innings. I already said my mental goodbye to him when I thought he was being shipped to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron, so I’m good with whatever happens, unlike this woman.
On a happier note, Xavier Nady is French. Why does that make me happy? Because it means he’ll understand it when I say, “Je t’aime.”
Here’s an excerpt from the NJ.com interview in which he explains his heritage. (Hat tip to Sliding Home.)
You’re Xavier Nady VI, your son is Xavier Nady VII. Is there a story behind your name and how it has been passed down through the years?