Tagged: Joe Mauer

You Go, Twins!

Those Minnesota Twins are funny the way they surprise you.  For years everybody griped about how cheap they were; how they wouldn’t pay their star players to stick around. Not anymore. Joe Mauer is sitting pretty right now.
His eight-year, $184 million contract extension is downright Yankee-ish. I’m glad the Twins decided to pony up for a guy who’s not only a batting champ and MVP but a superior defensive catcher – not to mention a hometown boy. Throwing him into the free agent market would have looked something like this.
Can you imagine the feeding frenzy that would have taken place if he’d become a FA? I’m still recovering from the endless speculation about Halladay before he finally landed with the Phillies. As for the Yankees’ own contracts-to-be-dealt-with, I don’t really care if the front office waits until after the season to negotiate with Jeter and Mo. Those two will be Yankees for their entire careers. They just will be. Neither wants to go anywhere else. Neither has Scott Boras for an agent. Neither is losing sleep over how to pay their electric bill. Jeter took the subject off the table at his first session with the media at spring training, and Mo is busy looking stunning in those Canali ads.
So I don’t worry about our two homegrown Yankees. If Joe Mauer gets to stay with the Twins, the Yanks won’t be parting with the faces of their franchise….Not unless they want me to deal with.

Presenting The 2009 She-Fan Awards, Part 4

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With She-Fan Awards already handed out to Dr. Marc Phillipon (Best Surgeon), Brad Lidge (Best Postseason Enemy) and Junichi Tazawa (Best Regular Season Walk-off Enemy), it’s time to spotlight another deserving individual who, by virtue of being unlucky, unfocused or just-plain unskilled, aided and abetted the Yankees in their quest for Championship #27.
And so we turn our attention to the umpires who made a difference in the 2009 postseason. There were several whose calls were controversial and/or downright terrible. Some of the calls went against the Yankees, but it’s the ones that helped our cause that will be singled out for the solid gold fan tonight, along with the men responsible for them.
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Now, without further ado, here are the nominees for the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Postseason Umpire. We thank them all for being in the service of the Yankees.
Phil Cuzzi, Left Field Umpire, Game 2 ALDS Versus Twins –

In the top of the 11th inning, with the Yanks and Twins tied and Marte on the mound, Mauer sliced one down the left field line and watched it bounce into the seats. Cuzzi called the ball foul, but replays showed it should have been a ground rule double. Mauer ended up singling but never scored, despite the two hits that followed. Had he doubled, he surely would have scored. (Great inning by Robertson to get out of the bases-loaded no-outs jam.) The Yankees went on to win the game 4-3.
Jerry Layne, Second Base Umpire, Game 2 ALCS Versus Angels – 
It was in the bottom of the 10th inning of what was to be the longest ALCS game in history that Layne showed us his stuff. Jorge grounded into a routine double play, but Layne ruled that Aybar, who had received the throw at second from Izturis, never touched the bag before sending the relay on to first. Consequently, Melky was safe at second and the so-called “Neighborhood Play,” which we’ve seen called a million times, was suddenly a figment of our imagination. The Yanks won the game 4-3 and went up by two games to none in the series.
–  Dale Scott, Second Base Umpire, Game 3 ALCS Versus Angels – 
With Kazmir on the mound in the top of the fourth and Jeter at the plate, Swisher led off second and got picked off – or did he? Kazmir’s throw to second and Aybar’s tag appear to nail Swishalicious according to the replays, but Scott called the runner safe. The Yankees blew the Angels away that night by the score of 10-1, and I was in Anaheim fending off the thunderstix. A great time was had by me.
Tim McClelland, Third Base Umpire, Game 3 ALCS Versus Angels – 
In the fifth inning of the above game, with the Yankees already up 5-0 and Posada on third and Cano on second, Swisher hit a Darren Oliver pitch on the ground for a fielder’s choice. Posada broke for home and got caught in a rundown. Napoli chased him back to third base, but – oopsie! – Cano was already there! Napoli tagged both Cano and Posada, but McClelland, who was standing right on top of the play, called Cano safe. The Yankees didn’t score, but it was a bad night for McClelland, who had mistakenly (“in his heart”) called Swisher out in the previous inning for tagging up too early.
Fieldin Culbreth, Home Plate Umpire, Game 5 ALCS Versus Angels – 
Fieldin should win the award just for his name alone. But here goes. The Yankees were down 4-0 in the seventh with one on and one out. Posada had a great at bat against Lackey, working the count full. Lackey’s next pitch was low and inside, and Posada trotted to first base with a walk, thanks to Culbreth’s tight strike zone. Big John was incensed at the ump, and Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher had to come out to the mound for a mental health chat. It didn’t work; Lackey walked Jeter, and Darren Oliver allowed the next three runners to score. The Yanks lost the game anyway 7-6, but Culbreth gave us his best shot.
Brian Gorman, First Base Umpire, Game 2 World Series Versus Phillies
Mo was pitching in the eighth (since he was his own set-up man by this time), and the Phillies had a rally going – until Gorman said Utley didn’t beat Jeter’s relay to first on a ground ball. Replays were inconclusive, but Charlie Manuel thought his player was robbed. “I’m not saying nothing about the umpiring,” he told the media after the game. “I’m just saying that he was safe.” If Gorman hadn’t ruled in our favor, the Phillies would have had runners at the corners with two outs. The Yankees won the game 3-1.
Brian Gorman, Home Plate Umpire, Game 3 World Series Versus Phillies
Yes, it’s Gorman
again. But this time he was minding his own business at home plate when A-Rod launched one to right field that hit the TV camera positioned there. Gorman signaled “double,” but Girardi protested and the umpires huddled together in some back room to watch the replay. When they returned to the field, Gorman waved A-Rod home. The call wasn’t just historic (the first use of instant replay in a World Series); it sparked the Yankees’ comeback off Hamels and we went on to win 8-5. The irony of the whole thing was that the ball hit one of the TV cameras whose purpose was to make the call.
Those are your nominees. And now, the envelope please.
The winner of the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Postseason Umpire is
***** Phil Cuzzi *****
Yes, Tim McClelland’s bonehead move calling Cano safe deemed him a worthy runner-up for the award, but the Yankees had that game well in hand and the call didn’t affect the outcome. All it did was make everybody look like bit players in an Abbott and Costello routine.
Cuzzi’s call, on the other hand, was a game changer. The Twins very likely would have taken the lead and evened the series. Still not convinced? Here’s the evidence.
Congratulations, Mr. Cuzzi!
Oh, wait. Apparently, Mr. Cuzzi is vacationing in Tampa at the Steinbrenner compound. Accepting the award on his behalf is his optometrist.
Enjoy your award, Mr. Cuzzi.
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Which MVP Candidate Did Mark Feinsand Vote For?

Mark Feinsand’s “Blogging the Bombers” blog in the Daily News is one of the best, so I went straight to the source to find out who will win the big award. 
(That’s Mark on the right. Not sure who his friend is.)
Will it be….
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Or even….
I asked Mark which player he voted for. As you’ll see, I really, really tried to get answers, but I guess I’m a really, really lame reporter.
Update: Congratulations, Joe Mauer! (And interesting that Tex came in second ahead of Jeter.)

And The Award Goes To…. (With a P.S.)

Baseball’s version of the Oscars gets underway Monday while I’ll be on a plane back to California. So in anticipation, I thought I’d add my totally biased, completely Yankees-centric two cents on who should win.
1) AL Rookie of the Year: Alfredo Aceves

I know, I know. The award will probably go to Elvis Andrus. But Aceves was 10-1 this season. That’s a lot of wins for a reliever, even a long reliever. Yes, Dave Robertson had the best strikeout to innings ratio (63 Ks in 43.2 IP), but I don’t think he qualifies until next year. So congrats, Alfredo. In your honor, every Yankee fan should have fettucini alfredo some time this week.
2) AL Cy Young Award: CC Sabathia

Sure, you can talk about Greinke, Verlander and King Felix, but CC won 19 games and threw 230 innings. What’s more, he struck out 197 batters and only walked 67. He was the guy who fronted the staff, plain and simple. He wasn’t just a horse; he was a giant horse.
P.S. Honorable mention goes to Mo. He may be “just” a closer, but his name has to figure into any discussion of the year’s best pitcher.
3) AL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi

While it’s true that Mike Scoscia pulled his team through adversity, I’m picking the guy we love to bash – and not just because the Yankees won 103 games with him at the helm, impressive as that is. I give him props for slotting Jeter in the leadoff hole, for sending the players off to the pool hall during spring training, for manipulating the rotation after Wang got injured, for leaving Hughes in the pen and for resting CC, AJ and Andy enough that they were good to go the extra mile in the playoffs. Joe, you gave me heartburn on a regular basis, so I’ll celebrate your honor by downing some of this.
#4) AL MVP: Derek Jeter
A case could be made for Joe Mauer, obviously, but I honestly think Jeter could win this one. He had 212 hits, batted .334 and won a Gold Glove. If all that’s not valuable to a team, I don’t know what is. I love Tex as a candidate too. And A-Rod deserves to be mentioned because the Yankees’ season turned around after he came off the DL. But I’m tipping my cap to the Captain.
And now a round of applause for all the winner.
P.S. Since many of the comments dealt with Cooperstown today, I wanted to add the pics Cheshirecat sent me from his recent trip there. The first one is a plaque of The Mick. (Be still my heart.) The second is of Cheshirecat standing next to the Holy Cow cow! Enjoy!
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Two Walkoffs Are Better Than One

What a game.

The Twins are formidable with their M&M Boys.
Whenever the Yankees play them and they hit bomb after bomb no matter who’s pitching, I can’t help but be reminded of these two.
But the Yanks are hot right now and no amount of Morneau/Mauer firepower is enough. Coming off last night’s stunning walkoff win, today’s 6-4 walkoff in the 11th was equally satisfying. I’m still jazzed, and it’s hours after the final pitch.
Highlights for me…
– Joba’s new pre-game warmup seemed to do the trick, and he made it through the first inning without damage this time. He went six, gave up two runs and struck out six. He’s looking sharper with each outing. Yeeehaaaaaaaah!
– Tex came out of the gate like a man on a mission, going 4-for-4 with a walk. Was there really any doubt that he would thrive in pinstripes?
– Veras and Edwar, the twin devils, walked their leadoff batters and made me nuts as usual, but Aceves was lights out. And Mo was Mo, which was the same as this.
– A-Rod, who had looked off-balance all day, popped one into the seats for his first hit at the new stadium and his first walkoff of the year.
Yes, I know there are Yankee fans who will boo him even when he does hit in the clutch. Not me. He admitted he took steroids. If it’s proven that he’s guilty of other baseball crimes, I’ll cross that proverbial bridge when I come it. In the meantime, I was ecstatic when he brought the game home for my team.
Take a look/listen. Sorry for the quality of the video, but this is what I get for shooting the action off my MacBook Pro. Just pretend you have Vasoline in your eyes and it’ll look normal.