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.
I was blacked out by Fox for today’s first game, so I listened to it on my phone while I ran around doing errands. I was so excited when we won that I nearly drove off the road. If we win the second game, I thought, we’ll be in great shape to take the division.
I couldn’t watch Game 2 live because I was at the performance of my friend John Lengfelder’s new movie. (It’s called “Blind Date” and it was interactive in the sense that the audience gets to vote on what happens in the actual story; go to http://www.BlindDateInteractive.com if you’re interested.) But I saw the replay. I wish I hadn’t. Four errors? The Yankees committed four errors? I realize that Berkman is no Tex and Cervelli is no Posada, but AJ standing there staring at the first base ump while the run scored? Hello? I understand why he was surprised by the “safe” call, but where was his head as A-Rod yelled at him to pay attention to the runner. When the camera panned over to Girardi in that fourth inning, you could see Joe hang his head in disgust. I did the same thing.
We had a great chance to control our own destiny in the final weekend of the regular season. Instead, we’re stuck hoping the Rays lose. Not a good way to end a very long journey into night.
Tonight’s series opener felt like it might be yet another seesaw battle between the two teams, but Curtis Granderson (or Grandis Curtison, as I called him in a moment of excitement) delivered the knockout punch with his second homer of the game. Whatever he and Kevin Long did to his swing worked, and his improved offense couldn’t have come at a better time. With Tex clearly ailing and flailing, Grandy is key to the Yanks’ success. Jeter looked a lot better at the plate too, and Cervelli seemed rejuvenated.
Ivan Nova continued to impress – until he kind of fell apart again. I guess he just runs out of gas.
Was I about to stick my hand into the TV and slap Logan and Gaudin when they couldn’t throw strikes? Uh-huh. But it all ended happily, if shakily, after Mo closed it out. As for Garza, maybe he should take Pedro Martinez’s line and call the Yankees his daddy. It was nice not to have to play scoreboard baseball during the game. The Yanks kept the Rays in the rearview mirror for another day. Whew.
And now a few words about the pre-game activities. Am I the only one who got choked up? What a ceremony, as only the Yankees can do ceremonies.
Watching the entire Steinbrenner family come out onto the field, including Mrs. Steinbrenner whom I’d never seen before, was touching, as was the procession of players past and present (Roy White is such a class act) who followed them to Monument Park, and the return of Torre and Mattingly who both got rousing receptions. After The Boss’ monument was unveiled, I was mesmerized by the sight of Mo crouched all by himself staring at it, as if he really was saying goodbye for the last time. Sob!
And how about Steinbrenner’s granddaughter and her rendition of “God Bless America?” I wasn’t expecting much, figuring she got the gig because of nepotism, but she was awesome. Bring her back, please! And speaking of anthems, how spooky was Frank Sinatra, Jr.? He not only sounded like his father but has aged the same way (well, maybe a little more jowly).
Anyhow, I’m sure it was a great night to be in the Bronx. I’m grateful I was able to see it all on TV way out here in the boonies of California. Speaking of which, I’ll be on a writers panel at the local Borders store in Goleta tomorrow night if anyone’s in the ‘hood. Stop by and say hi.
Today’s game nearly drove me nuts.
I was up after the Yankees went up over the O’s 1-0.
I was down after Wieters hit that homer because Nova had pitched so well.
I was up after we had a rally going in the 7th and it looked like we’d come back.
I was down after Cervelli swung at the first pitch and killed the rally.
I was up after watching Joba take the mound in the 9th and throw the ball like he used to.
I was down after wondering why Girardi didn’t use Posada in place of Cervelli back in the 7th.
I was up – way, way up – after A-Rod led off the 9th with a solid single and Swish smacked a walkoff. In fact, I danced around the room and yelled “Yaaaay” like an idiot.
And then I was down after reading that Posada might have a concussion.
And then I was up again after reading that he didn’t have one and was day to day.
The point is that I now need a vacation from my vacation because I don’t feel very rested at all.
With way too much time on my hands this off-day, I let my mind drift. That’s what vacations are for, right? Anyhow, I started to imagine all the excellent things that could happen during Friday night’s series opener against the White Sox. Here are a few.
Yes, the home plate ump had a bizarre strike zone. And yes, Morrow was very good. And yes, we only lost to the Jays by a run in a game we should have won off their bullpen. But I’m talking about getting robbed by Girardi and his quick hook.
I really wanted to see more of Ivan Nova, and Joe pulled him after only 73 pitches. I felt deprived!
Not only was the kid fun to watch (after that hairy first inning), but he showed some serious attitude in the exchange with Bautista, and I would have LOVED to see what might have happened during his next at bat.
Instead, we had to witness Bow-tista taking a six-hour bow around the bases after he homered against Robertson, not to mention his fist pump in Cervelli’s face as he crossed home plate. What a creep.
OK, I have a few more. Words, I mean. Hernandez was so dominant in striking out 11 batters that I almost turned off the TV after the sixth inning. Why bother watching? A.J. wasn’t a lot of laughs. Neither was A-Rod, who appeared for a split second before re-injuring his calf. And I’m tired of watching Cervelli not hit. Can’t Kevin Long work some magic on him? Oh, never mind. I know I’m supposed to just tip my cap to Hernandez and call him the Yankees’ daddy.
I’m not talking about the Yankees, although I hardly recognized Vazquez, Cervelli and Granderson, who didn’t look like professional ballplayers tonight but rather some rank amateurs. I’m talking about the Red Sox. They beat us 6-3, but it felt like we lost to…just another team. What I’m trying to say is that the old intensity of the rivalry, the rage, the fury – they weren’t there. Except for Ortiz and Papelbon, the usual villains were absent and so was my hostility. Did the Yankees feel the same way? Is that why they were so lackluster? Because Pedroia, Youkilis and Varitek weren’t on that field? Because truthfully, it’s hard to get all fired up to face Buchholz…
and someone named Kalish…
whose name kept conjuring up thoughts of this.
Maybe for tomorrow’s game, the Yankees could line their lockers with images of past battles. They need something to get them going.
1) iPhones are the greatest invention known to mankind.
I’ve had mine for awhile now, but tonight it allowed me to do three things at once: eat dinner with a friend, “watch” the Yankees beat the tar out of the Indians and enjoy the beautiful view of the Santa Barbara harbor at the Endless Summer cafe.
2) Dustin Moseley knows how to pitch.
He was great tonight after some first inning jitters. Threw strikes. Kept his cool. Deserves another start for sure.
3) Cervelli has the ability to make me mad.
Memo to him: When you come up with the bases loaded and the opposing pitcher has done nothing but walk batters, do not swing at the first pitch and ground into a rally killing DP.
4) A-Rod is allowed to have fun during his chase for #600.
The guy has been an RBI machine, so people need to stop worrying about the homers. He’s helping us win – big time.
5) Scoring seven runs in one inning is what I’d like the Yankees to do over the weekend in Tampa.
Not that I didn’t appreciate the runs tonight, but I’d really like a lot of offense against the Rays. Please.
6) Chan Ho Park cannot – I repeat – CANNOT – pitch two innings.
I know. It was a laugher. But thanks to him things got a little hairy in the ninth. All those walks. Seriously. He’s okay for one inning (if nobody else is available), but not for two. That is all.
7) Marcus Thames reminded me of these in his attempt to play third.
Yeah, he’d never played there before and he was giving A-Rod a rest. But I had flashbacks of Angel Berroa. Not good.
8) The grilled mahi mahi at Endless Summer is worth checking out if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
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.