ESPN announced their lineup of Sunday night games the other day, and their second one of the season – the April 10th contest – will be Yankees/Red Sox at Fenway. I realize it’s still January but seeing that actual games will be played on actual dates makes the start of the 2011 campaign seem more real, doesn’t it? Like it’s really happening? It does to me.
Of course, while certain aspects of Yankees-Red Sox will seem like old times (the “Yankee suck” chants, the lusty boos for A-Rod and Tex, the presence of familiar villains like Pedroia and Youkilis), it’ll be interesting to see how newcomers Crawford and Gonzalez play into The Rivalry. And it’ll be weird not to have Joe Morgan and Jon Miller to kick around anymore.
The good news is that spring really is around the corner, despite this photo that Friend of the Blog John (aka ooaooa) sent me of his picturesque, snow-covered backyard. Gotta love his taste in barns.
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.
Today was depressing. Not only did I have to read about how the Red Sox were sure-fire bets to win the World Series now that they’ve signed Crawford and Gonzalez (didn’t the media say the same thing about them last year after they signed Lackey and Beltre?), but I continued to check for updates about Cliffy and could only find out that the Yankees had upped their offer to 7 years (7, apparently, is the new 6 in baseball these days) and that the Texas delegation was in Arkansas to make their case to the Lees. Blah blah blah. As I said yesterday, I’m not a patient person and this whole Lee thing, on top of the whole Jeter thing, is dragging me down. So what did I do about it? I went to a screening tonight of the most depressing movie on the planet. “Rabbit Hole” was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and now it’s a critically acclaimed film that’s about to open in limited release to qualify for the Oscars. Nicole Kidman, who plays the mother of a child that died and tries to come to grips with the tragedy, is on everybody’s Best Actress list, along with Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. She’s very good. And it’s hard not to be moved by the film (Kleenex essential). But fair warning: it’s just not an easy story to sit through. Here’s the trailer.
I was hoping that when I emerged from the theater and turned my phone back on there would be news – as in “Lee signs with the Yankees!” No such luck. I’m thinking Friday is the day. Or maybe Saturday. Definitely by Sunday. If it goes longer than that, I’m over it and will start doing Countdowns for anybody and everybody. Meanwhile, here’s tonight’s Cliff Lee video.
It was an easy pick, since Danny Knobler says straight out that Cliffy will be a Yankee because he won’t be able to leave “all that money on the table.” So far, nobody’s been able to leave money on the table, judging by the choices made by Werth and Crawford.
Oh. One more thing. Recently, I noticed that this blog has passed the 20,000-comment milestone. That’s a whole lot of people checking in here. A heartfelt thanks to all who’ve taken the time to leave a word or two.
Michael and I were on our way to dinner with friends when I said in the car, “The winter meetings have been a big tease this year.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Aside from the Werth deal before they started the meetings, things have been pretty quiet.”
“Apparently, Cashman can’t even get Cliff Lee’s agent to respond to an offer,” I said. “And now the agent has left Orlando and gone to Arkansas to talk to Lee. Which means more waiting and wondering.”
“This agent seems to have everybody waiting and wondering,” said Michael. “Who is he anyway?”
“His name is Darek Braunecker,” I said. “Sounds like a German coffee machine.”
We got to the restaurant, a cute Italian place here in Santa Barbara called Trattoria Victoria, and sat down with our friends. During dinner we all talked about the updates in the murder investigation of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, about the recent ruling in the McCourts’ divorce case and what it might mean for the Dodgers, about the bones I found in my otherwise delicious piece of sea bass. And then we went home. I went straight to the computer to see if there was Cliff Lee news. Nope. Only the fact that Carl Crawford will be a Red Sock for the next 7 years. My condolences to the Angels, whose offer wasn’t enough to hold off those busy shoppers in Boston. But what about Lee? Is he planning to make a decision about his future soon or not? I’m tired of this guy Braunecker acting like his client is an undercover agent with the CIA. I’m tired of all the secrecy. I’m tired of waiting. Just tell us straight up: Does Lee want to pitch for the Yankees or doesn’t he? Even Andy Pettitte is waiting for an answer.
Tonight’s Operation Cliff Lee Countdown video is actually audio. Even if you listen closely, you still can’t figure out what Braunecker is really saying. He’s a master of double talk, which explains all this waiting and wondering. I’m glad he’s not my agent, that’s for sure.
I knew tonight would present a conflict.
I was scheduled to be on a writers panel at Borders here in the Santa Barbara area, but I didn’t have to arrive until 7 pm. Since the game started at 4 pm PT, I figured I’d see most of it before I left the house. (I couldn’t very well cancel my appearance; authors never pass up an opportunity to plug their books.) But I was a little panicky prying myself away from the TV with the score at 5-3 and Hughes coming out for Vazquez.
I listened on my phone in the car on the way to the store. Still 5-3.
I continued to listen even after I walked in, was introduced to my fellow panelists, sat down and waited for the Borders events coordinator to clear his throat and begin the program. Phone tucked away in my purse, I spent the next 90 minutes answering questions about the She-Fan book and this blog, as well as focusing on the work of the other writers. And then, when there were no further questions and we were done, an audience member approached me.
“The Yankees won 8-3,” he said with a big smile.
I was taken aback at first. I mean you don’t expect to meet a lot of Yankee fans in California. For example, the panelist who sat next to me was a sportswriter who rooted for the Dodgers, and the panelist next to him was a newspaper editor who rooted for the Giants, and the events coordinator from Borders was an Angels guy.
“Thanks for telling me,” I said. “So you’re a fan too?”
He was a fan all right. He told me that his house had burned down in the last wildfire and that the possession he was most saddened to lose was the signed copy of the autobiography of Mickey Mantle, his childhood hero. Now that’s bleeding pinstripes.
I had a good time at Borders, but I had an even better time when I got home and watched the rest of the game. Yaaaay, us! I was afraid the Rays would keep chipping their way back, especially with so many of our relievers unavailable. But Cano’s shot past Crawford was huge and Joba held on, and my night had a very happy ending after all.
After the game I watched the profile of CC on HBO’s “Real Sports.”
What a lovable guy. When he teared up about his father, I teared up too. Of course, I had to laugh when I saw the size of his house at the end of the piece. It’s….large.
Oh, one more thing. Here’s a pic of The Boss’ newly unveiled monument. It was sent to me by Friend of the Blog John (aka ooaooa) and taken by his daughter, who was at tonight’s game. Thanks, John.
No more home run derbies, all star games and barbecues with the family. It’s time for the Yankees to get back to work in the Bronx. Yes, the weekend will be emotional with the tributes to Steinbrenner and Sheppard, but the Rays won’t be playing the role of sympathetic friend; they’ll be looking to bring us to our knees.
We must dominate the invaders from Tampa Bay, and who better to do that than CC. He has to neutralize Longoria, Crawford and company and send a message to our division rival that we are not handing over the American League East any time soon.
* keeping the Rays from stealing.
* not letting any of them make web gem-type catches.
* saying something that will get Upton mad.
* smashing Joe Maddon’s glasses.
What else…Oh, yeah, we need to score a lot of runs so that nobody in our bullpen can screw things up.
The NY Post reported that Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly headed down to the island of Canouan to ring in 2010. How nice for them. The last time I was down there, Raffles didn’t exist and there was no electricity on the island.
But with the Yankees still without a clearly designated left fielder, I was more interested in where Brian Cashman was for New Year’s Eve. We know he wasn’t with Matt Holliday, since the Cardinals are about to announce their deal. And we know he wasn’t with Marlon Byrd, since the former Ranger is going to the Cubs. So where was he? Where is he? And what’s he been doing?
Has he been partying at home in Connecticut?
Did he go to Times Square to watch the ball drop with people wearing those oddly shaped blue Nivea caps?
Has he been planted in front of his TV watching football?
Did he fly to Hawaii to caddy for Obama?
Did he drive up to Sugarbush to learn how to ski?
Or did he end up in Tampa meeting with the Steinbrenners?
Given the fact that there really aren’t any drool-over free agents left on the market, I wonder if he spent the holiday with Brett Gardner explaining to him that he has the job until 2011, at which time it will be handed to this guy.
As for me, I went to a great party on New Year’s Eve. There was lots of food, excellent champagne, interesting people and a roaring fire in the fireplace. But the highlight for me was when I was introduced to a lawyer named Michael Cooney.
“I read about your She-Fan book in the local paper,” he said. “I’m a diehard Yankee fan too.”
Well, talk about a conversation starter. It turns out that Cooney is very friendly with Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher and stays with him every year when he goes to spring training. I mentioned that Kelleher had been nice to me when I was at a game in Tampa last spring. (Here I am calling out to Mick and here he is smiling at me. That constitutes “nice.” At least he didn’t ignore me or tell me to go back to my seat.)
“I’m going down to stay with Mick in March,” said Cooney.
“Oh, wow. I’ll be down there in March too,” I said. Hint hint.
“We’ll have to get together,” he said. “When we go out to eat, all the other coaches come too. It’s fun to sit there listening to them talk about all the players.”
Uh, yah. I’m so there.
When I was a senior in high school, two guys asked me out for New Year’s Eve. Neither was an actual boyfriend (I was only in love with Mickey Mantle). One was quiet and dependable. The other was a lot of fun. But I couldn’t go out with both of them, could I? Brian Cashman’s dilemma is similar. He has to choose between Matsui and Damon, now that both are free agents. Does he decide to go with the quiet, dependable one?
Matsui did win the Series MVP and he’s been nothing if not an RBI machine ever since he joined the Yankees. He’s a lefty who hits for power and average, gets along with everybody and is a complete professional. His drawbacks? He’s strictly a DH, can’t run the bases given his bad knees, and he’s 35 – hardly ready for the assisted living facility but not young in baseball years. Still, can the Yankees really afford to part with Godzilla?
Johnny Damon’s slap-happy lefty swing was made for Yankee Stadium. He’s perfect in the #2 slot, makes contact especially with two strikes, can go yard into Damon’s Deck and is a speedy and smart base runner, as we saw from his pivotal steals of second and third in the World Series. His drawbacks? His weak throwing arm is a liability in left field, his legs need to be rested for maximum effectiveness, and he’s 36 – even though it seems like only yesterday that the Yankees signed him.
I loathed him as a Red Sock, but over the four years he’s been in pinstripes I’ve grown to appreciate his all-out effort, as well as his playfulness. Can the Yankees really say goodbye to the great chemistry he has with his teammates?
My solution would be to try to bring them both back. OK, I know that’s wishful thinking. I’m not in high school anymore.
So I’d pick Matsui, because he’s a better pinch-hitter.
No, wait. I’d pick Damon, because he’s a better all-around player.
Or maybe I’d pick Matsui, because he’s Pedro Martinez’s daddy.
Or maybe I’d pick Damon, because he doesn’t need a translator.
Matsui. Damon. Matsui. Damon. I don’t know! I need to talk to Cashman right away. He’s in Chicago at the GM meetings. I have to reach him before he does something crazy, so off I go.
I guess we’ll have to wait to hear about Matsui and Damon. You can’t say I didn’t try.
If I had told people that the Yankees would go 9-1 on their homestand, I would have gotten reactions like this.
And even this.
That Swisher. Such a goofball. But even he probably wouldn’t have predicted such a great run after the All-Star break.
Mitre was mediocre in Sunday’s game, but “mediocre” might be just fine for the time being. He throws strikes. He induces ground balls. He doesn’t look panicked out there. He’ll do as the fifth starter until he proves he’s not worthy.
The bullpen is looking better and better, especially with Bruney gaining in confidence and effectiveness. I’m a little worried about Coke though. I shake my head every time somebody says, “He’s been amazing, except that he gives up home runs.”
The last time I checked, giving up home runs wasn’t a good thing. Hughes continues to impress, and Mo is just, well, Mo. He could probably throw that cutter in his sleep.
Tex keeps rolling. Cody Ransom has been more-than-decent as A-Rod’s fill-in. And Melky will have to step up while Gardner’s thumb heals.
I admit I was thrown when I heard about Brett the Jet’s injury. How will we compensate for his speed on the bases? Could we get this guy to un-retire?
Cano finally got a big hit with men in scoring position. And Jeter seems to get more acrobatic with age. I mean, could you do this?
What I’m saying is that I think we’re ready for the ten-day road trip, which begins at the cowbell palace known as The Trop.
Sure, there will be challenges in Tampa. Big ones, not the least of which is this.
Tough place to catch fly balls. What’s more, there are Rays that always cause the Yankees headaches: Upton, Crawford, Longoria, Pena. I’m hoping AJ can handle them all when he opens the series and flashes them that stare.
The Bombers have hit the road as I’m typing this. Actually, they must be in Florida by now.
If I were addressing them at their hotel, I’d say: “Win every game on the trip.”
“She-Fan, you’re cracked,” Jeter would say. “We can’t win every game.”
“Well, you can win ninety-nine percent of them,” I’d counter. “You just did it.”
Everybody would realize I was right. And Joba would let out a victory roar.
1) The American League won again. (Duh)
2) Obama looked cool in his White Sox jacket but threw like a girl, complete with an overbite.
3) The Fox camera crew forgot to show us where the throw landed, so we were forced to guess.
4) No celebrity is more ubiquitous than Sheryl Crow. (Yes, I know she’s from Missouri.)
5) Roy Halladay gave up three runs and has a higher ERA than Kei Igawa, confirming that an even-up trade is not out of the question.
6) Tim Lincecum’s hair is distracting.
7) He earned my eternal wrath by hitting Jeter with a pitch.
8) Carl Crawford can play for my team any day.
9) Curtis Granderson talks as fast as he runs.
10) Since the first run of the night was scored by Jeter, it was only fitting that the last out was notched by Mo.
After the festivities were over, it dawned on me that there are no Yankees games until Friday. That’s two whole days/nights during which I’ll have too much time on my hands. Never a good thing.