Leave it to Suzyn Waldman to go down to Arkansas and get an exclusive with Cliff Lee. I thought he was a laid-back, aw-shucks type, but apparently he’s really full of himself. Take a look.
Cashman said Eiland’s dismissal had nothing to do with the Yankees’ pitching performances in the playoffs, so that’s not it. And he refused to say whether it was related to the mysterious “personal leave of absence” that kept Eiland away from the team for nearly a month. So we’re left to speculate on our own, and in my case that’s a dangerous thing. Herewith some theories…
#10 He had a secret Twitter account under the name @Joba_Rules_Are_Stupid.
#9 He repeatedly told Mo that the Panamian skirt steak at Mo’s New York Grill was tough and overcooked.
#8 During Game 6 of the ALCS, he picked up the phone in the dugout and called 1-800-FLOWERS.
#7 He refused to wear a jacket and tie on the flight back from Texas.
#6 He acted huffy because the Yankees wouldn’t let him sing “God Bless America” during the season – even though Haley Swindal got to do it.
#5 He had T-shirts printed up that said, “Javy Vazquez belongs in the National League.”
#4 He teased Jonathan Albaladejo that he looked like Lurch in the Addams Family.
#3 He deliberately miscounted the number of innings Phil Hughes pitched this year. Oops.
#2 He invited Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to the same cocktail party.
And #1 (Drum roll) He was the one who gave A.J. the black eye.
On the eve of the All Star break, I thought it was the perfect time to assess the state of the Yankees Universe and discuss what needs to be done to insure a successful second half. Here goes…
“With the best record in baseball, the Yankees are already on a pace to win it all – again.”
“Our starting rotation is strong, Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee.”
“The Captain is perking up at the plate. He just has to stop swinging at first pitches.”
“Swisher is a better #2 than Nick Johnson ever would have been.”
“Tex is finally heating up – for real – and his defense has been outstanding.”
“A-Rod keeps knocking in runs. And HR #600 will quickly lead to #601, #602, #603, etc.”
“Is there really anything Robinson Cano can’t do this season?”
“Having Posada healthy means that Cervelli can go back to being a good backup.”
“Granderson has been somewhat disappointing so far at the plate. More productivity would go a long way toward making people stop wishing AJax would suddenly re-appear.”
“Marcus Thames isn’t useless after all. It turns out he’s a decent DH/pinch hitter.”
“Brett Gardner is the most exciting Yankee in years. He has to keep getting on base though.”
“Mo is Mo – a precious asset never to be taken for granted.”
“Dave Robertson has pitched better lately, but more consistency would be helpful.”
“Chan Ho Park is OK for one inning maybe – but that is all.”
“Damaso Marte doesn’t scare me as much as he did early in the season.”
“Joba….Well, if Joe keeps running him out there in the 8th I’ll need a defibrillator. He must be fixed or I won’t make it through the rest of the season.”
“Chad Gaudin is not Alfredo Aceves. Alfredo Aceves is no longer Alfredo Aceves. Therefore, we need a better long man.”
“We need another reliable arm out of the pen, period – someone not named Jonathan Albaladejo.”
“We need a bat off the bench. I love Ramiro Pena and Colin Curtis, but are they the players I want to see pinch hitting in a big game? Nah.”
“We need better communication between the Yankees and the media when it comes to player injuries. No more ‘Yes, he’s hurt. No, he’s not hurt.’ Just tell us.”
“It’s not necessary to have the grounds crew dance to ‘YMCA’ anymore. It really isn’t.”
“Where’s Hank Steinbrenner? And why isn’t he firing off Steinbrennerisms this year?”
“Why can’t YES re-hire David Cone and phase out John ‘the Snooze’ Flaherty?”
“We need to keep Dave Eiland from ever leaving the team again.”
“And finally, there should be more Yankees merchandise for she-fans – from Yankees lipstick to Yankees nail polish (the same color Jorge wears) and especially Yankees hair products. I mean, who wouldn’t want pinstriped hair?”
That concludes my address. God Bless America and God Bless the New York Yankees.
Last night the formula was CC + A-Rod = Victory. Tonight it was A.J. + Tex/Swisher = Victory. I know people don’t want to make too much of Dave Eiland’s return to the team, but it’s not a coincidence that A.J. has looked like a different pitcher since Eiland came back. He’s gone from God awful and grouchy…
…to focused and fabulous.
Sure, A.J.’s defense helped him out tonight (sometimes I just sit there and marvel at the plays Tex makes – I guess I didn’t realize he was that good), but his stuff was nasty and the Oakland hitters were overmatched. Luckily, the Yankees hitters weren’t. They worked Gio’s pitch count up and then pounced. Tex’s three-run shot got things going, but what a night for Swisher. A single, double, homer and a walk? Not too shabby for the All Star candidate. (Did we really get him for Wilson Betemit? I’m still pinching myself.)
Even Ramiro Pena (I groaned when I saw Cano was out of the lineup – his back better not be all that sore) had a couple of hits. Marte and Joba did their jobs in the eighth and ninth, and that was the ball game. Oh, well there was one other moment that must be mentioned. Somebody ended up being very embarrassed.
A-Rod overran a pop-up in foul territory and dropped the ball – and himself.
He went face down onto the field, and it didn’t take long before Jeter was laughing hysterically. After A-Rod got up, the two of them kept cracking up and I couldn’t help smiling too.
(Thanks to caitlin on Twitter for the screen grab.)
So for those east coasters who missed the game, it was basically more of the same: good pitching, hitting and defense – a pleasure to watch.
When I found out that A.J. would be pitching on Saturday, I went to Dodger Stadium fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Tex staked us to that nice lead in the first, and I said out loud, “This is gonna be fun!” Wrong. Well, the game itself wasn’t fun. It’s natural to focus on A.J.’s dreadful pitching – please come back, Dave Eiland, wherever you are! – but the offense was pretty lame too, except for that early burst. And when will Girardi accept the fact that Chan Ho Park is perfectly fine for one inning but cannot pitch two? It’s obvious. I know we’re short Aceves and Mitre, but surely somebody else – Gaudin? – was available. Even Cervelli had a lousy day behind the plate. But onto more pleasurable things…
Michael and I had a great time at the ballpark, game or no game. Yes, we were disappointed to arrive at Dodger Stadium two hours early – only to be told we couldn’t get onto the field for BP because we didn’t have field box tickets. But our seats in the Loge, just to the third base side of home plate, were excellent, and we had no trouble meeting up with our friend Denise, aka @SunnySoCal on Twitter. To say she’s an A-Rod fan is wildly understating her affection for our third baseman.
Btw, the A-Rod/Twilight reference is courtesy of his appearance at the LA premiere of the movie the other night.
How did Michael get those delicious Dodger dogs, you might ask? Not at the concession stand. We had our own personal caterer — fellow MLBlogger and Dodger fan extraordinaire Cat of Cat Loves the Dodgers. She was too shy to let me put her on the She-Fan Cam, so here’s her own blog pic.
She came over to our seats and handed us boxes of food from the baseline club, where she always sits and has access to incredible eats. She brought us the hot dogs, some pasta salad, some Tri-Tip, grilled veggies, you name it. How sweet was that? Oh, and she also got us a parking pass for the “preferred lot” so we wouldn’t have to walk a long distance to the stadium. A big thank you to her.
Next came my thwarted cell phone conversations with Peggy, our good Friend of the Blog. We were trying to meet up before the game but it was impossible to hear each other. And she found out – much as we had earlier with BP – that she wasn’t allowed to come down to the Loge section because her ticket was one level above. Aaaargh. But then who showed up to help? Emma of Crz Blue’s Dodger Blue World.
I explained the situation, and Emma offered to be my escort and take me to Peggy! So I left Michael and Denise and went up with Emma to Peggy’s section – only to have Peggy not be there! Aaargh again! Apparently, she had gone to get something to eat. So Emmy cleverly grabbed a Dodger flyer and, after I wrote Peggy a note, tied it to the arm of her empty seat so she would know I was there.
“I have another friend, ladyjane, sitting in the Top Deck,” I told Emma. “Any way you could take me up to see her?”
Not a problem for Emma, who seems to know every nook and cranny of the place. Anyhow, up we went and found ladyjane, who jumped out of her seat to come and talk to us atop Dodger Stadium. Here she is with Emma on the Cam. Nice view of the city in the background, but I apologize in advance for my voice. I sound bizarrely excited, and remind myself of Suzyn Waldman doing her “Roger Clemens is back with the Yankees” thing. (Cringing.)
It was great to see ladyjane, but I never did get to see Peggy, which was a bummer. We were like two ships passing in the night. A big thank you to Emma for taking the time to help out.
Somewhere around the fifth inning, while we were drowning our sorrows in some tasty beer, Denise and I got a tweet from some Twitter Yankee friends, @amandarykoff and @Stefmara, and joined them for a tweet-up.
The amazing thing for me is without having met such great fans I would have been sulking about the Yankees loss. Instead, I spent the long drive back to Santa Barbara thinking how lucky I am that baseball has brought so many wonderful new people into my life.
It’s my birthday tomorrow (Sunday, May 2nd), so I’ll be taking the day off from blogging, tweeting and watching/listening to the finale against the White Sox. While I’m out celebrating, here’s what I’d like to happen on your end.
* Heal Curtis Granderson’s groin. (Chan Ho Park’s hammy too.)
* Insist that Kevin Long fix Nick Johnson’s swing.
* Make Dave Eiland figure out what’s wrong with Robertson, Marte and, yes, Vazquez. (More on him in a sec.)
* Give Sergio Mitre a raise.
* Let A-Rod know that no one will mind if he passes Frank Robinson on the home run list.
* Remind Cano that April streaks are nice, but it’s good to hit in May too.
* Congratulate Swisher for busting out of his Yankee Stadium slump.
* If you must call up Melancon, tell him not to plunk anybody.
* Instead of using Thames/Winn in left, how about calling up Jon Weber or Colin Curtis.
* Tell Javy I didn’t boo him today. Well, not out loud. Sure, I want him to pitch better, but it’s not as if he’s screwing up on purpose. So tell him I support him…for now.
* Please win on my birthday. You hardly ever do, but try.
Love and xxoo, She-Fan
P.S. I got birthday flowers from Mike Fierman, Friend of the Blog and all-around great guy. Take a look!
P.P.S. I also got a cake from Melissa!!!
Tonight’s 10-9 loss to the Rangers was about pitching, pure and simple. The offense was fine (except for Nick Swisher’s lame bunt attempt). Nothing wrong with four runs in the first, another in the fifth and a four-run rally in the ninth that fell just short of a pie in someone’s face.
But Joba’s outing was another story. Another sad story.
He was coming off eight days rest – the idea being to prevent injury and keep him fresh should the Yankees be playing October baseball. I get it. I do. He’s never thrown this many innings in a season and the Yanks have to be careful not to overtax their valuable asset.
Or is that just a crock?
“Do you honestly think his arm will fall off if he pitches on regular rest?” I asked my husband Michael, who is far wiser than I am. More patient, too.
“They can’t just throw him out there every four days if he’s not stretched out,” said Michael. “He’ll end up with an injury – and it could jeopardize his future.”
“Stretched out,” I scoffed. “In the old days, pitchers just pitched. Nobody worried about how much.”
“Yeah, and their careers didn’t last long. Look at Koufax. Look at Sam McDowell. Look at Tommy John. There were tons of them whose arms blew out.”
“But who’s to say their arms wouldn’t have blown out even if their innings had been restricted? Some of these injuries have to do with the pitcher’s mechanics.”
“It’s been medically proven that you can’t have young pitchers throw an unlimited number of innings or they’ll have problems.”
“So you agree with the Yankees’ Joba Rules?”
“I don’t agree with how they keep messing with his routine,” said Michael. “Pitchers are creatures of habit. You can’t tell a guy he’s on eight days rest, then four days rest, then eight days rest again. No wonder he’s screwed up.”
“You blame outings like tonight on his routine?” I said. “He gave up seven runs in four innings. He’s not aggressive. He doesn’t throw strikes. He goes to full counts on everybody. Maybe he’s just not as good as we thought.”
“He does seem to go out there without a plan, completely lost.”
“Maybe he has a plan but can’t execute it,” I suggested.
“But then why isn’t Dave Eiland talking to him in the dugout during a game? Or Jorge? They should be coaching him more.”
I shrugged. “It’s a mystery. But I know one thing.”
“I’m not wild about Chad Gaudin. Please make him go away.”
“I’ll work on it,” he said.
What a guy. If only I could get Cashman to work on it too.
Watching Wednesday night’s 8-6 win over the Tigers was like sitting through three different ball games.
In the first one, Joba couldn’t throw a strike, looked out of sorts and received a lecture in the dugout from Dave Eiland, who, as we learn from this photo, is a “close talker.”
In the second one, Joba regrouped and was lights out, allowing only three hits over seven innings.
On the offensive side, the Bombers teed off on Porcello (the Tigers’ starter, as opposed to some sort of specialty mushroom) and on Rapada (the Tigers’ reliever, not a pasta dish involving miniature broccoli). The barrage included hits, walks, a couple of homers by Swisher, even a stolen base by Posada. Before I knew it, the score was 8-1 and I could sense that Yankee fans everywhere were yelling, “Par-tay!”
In the third game-within-the-game, Albaladejo came on in the ninth and couldn’t figure out that his job was to finish off the Tigers. Why was he even out there?
“Mo should be pitching!” I yelled at Girardi through the TV. “I know it’s not a save situation, but he hasn’t been on the mound since last Friday when he gave it up in Boston! He’s probably rusty! He needs the work!”
Joe must have heard me because Mo suddenly appeared. “I meant at the beginning of the inning, not now!” I shouted at the skipper. “You didn’t give him enough time to warm up!”
In stepped Granderson, who smacked a three-run homer to bring the Tigers to within two. Great. Was it possible that they would rally for more? That the Yankees would lose what had seemed like a mercifully easy contest? That my entire night would be ruined?
I was pretty agitated as I jotted down the score. And then… I remembered. I wasn’t just keeping score. I was keeping score with the Magic Pen!
I gripped the pen tightly and told it to use its powers. Well, you know the rest. Polanco and his melon head flied out, and the Yankees did win.
I bet Kim Jones interviewed Nick Swisher as the player of the game, but to me the one responsible for the “W” was the Magic Pen.
And so I interviewed it. Here’s my exclusive.