As promised, there will be a Jeter-related video for each post until the Captain and the Yankees have officially made a deal – no matter how long it takes. (I mean, seriously. Was I supposed to write a post about how Javy Vazquez is going to the Marlins? Didn’t think so.) Tonight’s Jeter video takes us back to simpler times. Way back. So far back that he and A-Rod were close friends for real. My reaction when I watched it was, “Awwwww. Look how young they both were.” Not that I want Cashman to dwell on Jeter’s age. Instead, I want him to see that his shortstop was proud to be a New York Yankee and wasn’t afraid to tweak his buddy about it. (Love A-Rod’s line about how Jeter is “hip hop.”)
It was bad enough to have to read that the Yankees are considering Freddy Garcia and Jeff Francis and even Bartolo Colon for the rotation. But now I’m supposed to add Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Bonderman to the list, according to LoHud? My reaction is the same as it’s been this entire off-season: to hold my ears and go, “Lalalalalalalalalala.”
I was a good fan when we got Javy Vazquez last year. I pretended like it was a smart move. I said all the right things and cheered him on and acted pained when it was implied that he didn’t have what it took to pitch in New York.
Before that, I put on a brave face when we picked up Sidney Ponson. “He’ll get his act together once he’s in pinstripes,” I said out loud.
I even rooted for Kei Igawa.
But enough is enough. I don’t want any of the starters mentioned in the first paragraph of this post – all of whom qualify as other teams’ stale leftovers.
I don’t want reclamation projects, either. I want pitchers with talent. Yeah, talent. Any kind of talent. Maybe this guy’s available?
It’s all right here. And I’m still trying to figure out if I’m hallucinating. Didn’t we just learn something from the Javier Vazquez Experiment? That when a pitcher fails to perform for you once there’s a better-than-average chance he’ll fail to perform for you a second time? I don’t understand all this bringing back of people, even when it’s only a minor league deal. Viz’s absence didn’t make my heart grow fonder, not at all. I’m sure he’s a very nice person, but after a promising debut with the Yankees he disappointed time and time again with his wildness. (I still cringe with the memory of his leadoff walks in crucial situations.) I’m just bewildered by this one, but what’s scariest about it is that Carl Pavano is still on the loose. Cashman wouldn’t even consider bringing him back a second time, would he?
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.
I don’t know if tonight was the last time we’ll see Vazquez in pinstripes, but I’d be willing to bet it is. It wasn’t his fault that he was a home run derby server-upper against the Blue Jays. That’s who he is. That’s what he does. That’s the way things started out for him this year and that’s the way they’ve ended up. No surprises. I wish him well in his return to the National League, where he will inevitably become a 20-game winner next season. Bye bye, Javy.
What I don’t understand is why Girardi used all the regulars in this game but didn’t let Andy pitch. I know, he wanted him “lined up” for the playoffs, but still. You either want to win the division or you don’t. And with the Rays losing to the O’s, tonight was one big wasted opportunity to climb back on top. But hey. At least A-Rod notched his 30th homer and 100th RBI yet again – no small feat for a guy who spent all that time on the DL and was supposed to have had a down year. Congrats, Alex. But please don’t cool off any time soon.
Not much else to say about the game except that I didn’t mind getting stuck with the Toronto feed on TV. The fans gave Cito Gaston a really nice sendoff, and he deserved it. I always liked him as a manager and I appreciated how gracious he was about having the Yankees at his going away party. So there were two farewells tonight. Bye bye, Cito.
Yes, we ended up with a split. And there was nothing pretty or sweet about it. How many times have we watched CC disintegrate? Hardly ever, that’s how many times. And yet he looked vulnerable through the fifth inning and positively horrendous in the sixth – like a great big parade float that was punctured and fell to the ground.
Still, I give him a pass. He’s been terrific, so he’s entitled to a bad game even if it did cost him the Cy Young award. And David Price is a really, really good pitcher. Still, how to explain the Yankees inability to score with the bases loaded – more than once? That was more troubling to me, as was Joba’s ineffectiveness and the fact that Vazquez couldn’t find home plate if he had a shovel.
Did he hit three batters in a row or did I dream it? Never mind. I know the answer. If he had plans for the postseason, he can probably forget about them and schedule a nice, long vacation for himself. Will the Yankees win the division now that they’re basically tied with the Rays again? Tampa has some comfy match ups, while we’re stuck with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. I have no idea what will happen from here on – none. Maybe I should consult the tarot card reader I spoke to last year, but I’ve been afraid to. What if she tells me something I don’t want to hear? Couldn’t handle it.
Changing the subject, did everybody see the ESPN Steinbrenner documentary directed by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple? I missed its premiere on Tuesday night, but watched it after the game tonight. As some may remember, I flew to New York last year to be interviewed for the doc.
I met Barbara too, and it turned out we both grew up in Scarsdale loving the Yankees.
Here’s the bad news: I ended up on the cutting room floor of the doc. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t in it and wasn’t surprised. Barbara shot a ton of film, interviewed hundreds of people and only had an hour of air time. The focus turned out to be the transition from the old Stadium and George’s running the team to the new Stadium and Hal’s ascendance, and I don’t think I said anything particularly interesting about any of that. I really enjoyed the film, especially the interview with Hal. Here’s a clip. It requires sitting through Pujols hawking Dove soap, but it’s worth a look.
Getting back to the present, I’m nervous about the Red Sox series this weekend. Not because it’s the Red Sox but because we just need to win games right now. Need to win games. Right now. Please.
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.
The evening started off so promisingly. My dinner guests arrived, unsuspecting that I had ordered the special Yankees cap cake (see previous entry). Everybody was having fun, the Yankees were up 5-4, and the bullpen was pitching scoreless baseball. The only sour note was that Vasquez was given a quick hook again. (Would it have been so horrendous for Girardi to leave him in for another inning? I feel sorry for Javy at this point.) Oh, and there was that abysmal call at second base where replays showed that Jeter clearly tagged Kinsler. But OK, we could win this. I felt pretty good. And then Joba served up this.
And Nelson Cruz ate it up to tie the score. From then on it was the battle of the pens, and I started getting really tired and cranky. My guests had gone home. I had dishes to wash and leftovers to put away. I wanted to go to sleep – with the game firmly in the win column. Instead, I sat there like an idiot watching us strand runner after runner. It was sickening. It seemed inevitable that Gaudin would serve Cruz a meatball too, and all those wasted opportunities would end in disaster. I hated the game. I hated that I stayed up late to watch the game. I hated that my evening with friends – my end-of-vacation thank-you dinner to them – was tainted.
Or was it? There was still the Yankees cake, and we really enjoyed it. Not only did it look great but it tasted incredible. Underneath the cap was a moist chocolate dessert with creamy vanilla frosting – three layers worth!
No, that’s not Marcus Thames in the pic, but it might as well be. No A-Rod? No problem. Thames and his power bat have kept the Yankees in business down the stretch, and no one is more surprised than I am. I just didn’t think he would be such an important pickup for us, but clearly I was wrong. And no Pettitte? No problem there either. Well, OK, there’s been a big problem but somehow the Yanks have managed to solve it. Vazquez and Moseley were both pretty lousy today, but the bullpen did its job and shut down the Blue Jays. Of course, having Bautista F-bomb himself out of the lineup helped the cause, but mostly it was that incredible DP by Cano to Teixeira that turned the game around. I’m convinced that if Tex hadn’t gone into baseball, he could have done this.
So the streak is now at eight games with twenty-six games left. That’s right. 26. Where did the season go? How could we possibly be at Labor Day weekend already? And, most importantly, can the Yankees pull away from the Rays and take sole possession of first place – for good?
He was good and Moseley was not, so why not use him in a game with a big lead? He was effective and held the A’s in check to get the win. Should he be put back in the rotation? I don’t know. I still don’t trust him. The person I do trust lately is Thames. My God, the guy has turned into a bona fide slugger.
Swisher and Tex had hot bats too, and while Jeter continues to look schlubby at the plate his defense sparkled tonight.
But I need to change the subject. Sure, it’s great that we won the series opener, but could we talk about the weather for a sec? I’m going to the game on Friday – my first trip to the Stadium this year. Nova will be pitching and I have nice seats, and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s just one hitch.
Earl. Category 4. Possible landfall on the East Coast on Friday. Will it land in the Bronx? Please no.