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.
The Good News was the return of Andy. If I could have hugged him, I would have.
He not only pitched well but went six innings. Now there are no more “What’ll we do without Pettitte” thoughts setting off panic in my brain. The Bad News was the Yankees’ inability to score with men on base – not with a man on third and nobody out, not with bases loaded, not with an opposing pitcher who had a tendency to walk batters. What happened to the sac fly? Is it not in this team’s arsenal? If I sound grumpy it’s because I was seriously frustrated by this game.
Then more Bad News: a blown save by Mo. Cue the people who will start saying, “He’s not the same. He’s done. He should retire.” Please. I don’t want to hear it. As a matter of fact, I’m mad at Mike Mussina right now. Yeah, Mussina. I finally caved in and bought the paperback of Joe Torre/Tom Verducci’s “The Yankee Years” for my flight home from the east coast. I was reading it last night when I came upon Moose’s quotes after the ’04 loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Here’s what he had to say about Mo:
“We were up 3-0 and Mo came in again with the lead and lost it. He lost it again. As great as he is, and it’s amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation again since I got here, he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before. He blew the World Series in ’01. He lost the Boston series….I know you look at everything he’s done and it’s been awesome, I’ll admit that. But it hasn’t been the same.”
Excuse me? Mo has accomplished nothing? He lost the Boston series – like all by himself? I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about Mike Mussina again. Even if he had those thoughts, how could he make them public and trash his teammate – the same teammate who’s been picking up starting pitchers for years? I don’t get it.
Sorry for the digression. Anyhow, the Yankees lost today, but the Good News is they won the series and, with loses by Tampa and Minny, don’t give up ground.
Speaking of Joe Torre, I read that he and Mattingly are coming to the Stadium Monday night for the unveiling of Steinbrenner’s monument in Monument Park. I know Donnie will get a huge ovation and I hope Torre will too. He deserves it. I’m having trouble with what he says in his book about his players, but there’s no getting around the championship years and his relationships with the Core Four. It’s Good News that the big chill appears to be over between him and the organization.
And finally, I went to see “The Town” today, the new movie directed by and starring Red Sox super-fan Ben Affleck. (Yes, there’s stuff at Fenway.) I absolutely loved it. This is a heist film that goes beyond the car chases and shoot ’em ups. It’s great entertainment and I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer.
Apparently, MLB wasn’t wild about letting Affleck shoot his scenes at Fenway, given the R-rated material. But here’s what the New York Times said on the subject:
For the finale, the production spent 11 days in and around Fenway Park, but only after Major League Baseball was cajoled into putting aside its usual reluctance to cooperate with a film that is rated R, this time for violence, language, sexuality and drug use.
Good for MLB and Good News for movie lovers. Go see this one.
The third and final game in the Yankees’ series against the Dodgers was one of the most exciting contests of the season, in my opinion. Gone was the nonstop chatter about Torre leaving New York and A-Rod not talking to him and blah-blah-blah past history. Well, ESPN couldn’t resist bringing up “the soap opera,” as they called it, but once the game turned into a nail-biter, it was all baseball. After stinking up the early innings – how many bunts could Pettitte not handle? – the offense and relief pitching got serious. Robertson and Marte did their jobs (Joba, not so much) so that A-Rod could pop one into the seats and put the Yanks on the board. We were down 6-3 in the ninth when Torre brought in Broxton.
Yeah, he’s large, but he’s not Mo. A parade of hits greeted him, including a huge at bat by Chad Huffman. I know, I wasn’t thrilled to have Huffman up in that situation either. He’s just a kid we got off San Diego’s scrap heap.
But he came through big time to pull us to 6-5. Clap Clap Clap, Chad. I take back what I said about you on Twitter.
My boy Colin Curtis was up next, and his ground out after about 1,000 pitches (I exaggerate, but he really worked that at bat, didn’t he?) sent Granderson scurrying home (thank you, Loney, for not making the play at home). Wow. All tied up. My stomach was in one big knot.
Why was I so nervous? I mean, Mo was on the hill. What drama could possibly take place? Especially when the normally placid Garret Anderson was batting.
Oh. G.A. didn’t like Chris Guccione’s strike zone and got tossed. Torre came out to have his say, and he and the Guccione went at it – for like ever. Was Joe really that upset or was it a bit of gamesmanship to disrupt Mo’s rhythm? No matter. Mo took care of business. On to the 10th and George Sherrill.
Maybe his beard distracted him, or maybe Robinson Cano is just that good. All I know is that Cano’s homer put the Yanks up 8-6, capping an improbable six-run rally. Mo was a hammer again in the 10th – and again the Dodger hitters weren’t happy. This time Russell Martin slammed down his bat in anger, nearly hitting Posada with it, and there was more arguing with Guccione.
I’ve watched Mo fan batters over the years. I get the frustration. But the Yankees won fair and square to finish off a very entertaining series. Bravo.
It’s late so I’ll just post some quick thoughts….
* Apparently, after all the years Billy Crystal hung around the Yankees, he was only a Torre fan.
* I really don’t like Padilla. His 53 mph pitch was effective, but I’m not wild about his tendency to plunk my players, then glare at us when we plunk him back.
* CC dominated for eight innings – beastly.
* A-Rod wouldn’t talk about Torre’s book before the game. Instead, he smacked a clutch homer, putting the Yanks on top. The team’s offense was quiet again, but he seems to have revived.
* Manny is still a tough out, but that error in left wasn’t pretty.
* Mo is Mo. Three up. Three K’s. Godly.
* Dodger fans disappointed me. All those “Yankees suck” chants? And booing Mo? Really?
* I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I’ll be at the game and can cheer the Yanks on in person. A.J. might need me, given the way he’s been throwing. If anybody else is going that I don’t know about, I’ll be in 121 Loge, row H! I hope I see a good one!
After a day of reading about Joe Torre and how he’s glad he wasn’t in the dugout while the Yankees were winning the World Series last year (I find that hard to believe, but whatever), I had the Dodgers on my mind tonight. I was at the speaking gig of my friend, author Joe Parent, who coaches all sorts of professional golfers and wrote the bestseller Zen Golf.
Before the event, there was a cocktail hour and I struck up a conversation with some of the other guests. Since I don’t play golf, I figured I’d talk about baseball, which led to a discussion of the She-Fan book and this blog. Before I knew it, I was whipping out the She-Fan Cam. It hadn’t been used in awhile and needed the work, just like Mo does sometimes. Plus I wanted it to be sharp for Saturday, when I’ll be down at Dodger Stadium. The room was very noisy so it’s kind of hard to hear my brief chat with a Dodgers fan named Kyle, but he put me in my place after I rudely suggested that his team wasn’t doing so well.
May the best team win this weekend, Kyle.
I know. It’s only one day…in June. But first place is first place, and given all the injuries on this team it’s pretty satisfying for the Yankees to be where they are right now. What a game today, right? It had a little of everything – superb pitching by CC, a granny by Tex for his second homer in two days, a bunt by Swisher, an amazing catch by Gardner, a near-ejection by Posada (loved how Girardi had to clap his hand over JoPo’s mouth), another save by Mo, etc etc. What does it all mean as the Yanks head west?
It means that with the Rays, Red Sox and Jays all playing well, we’re in for a real dogfight.
(I decided to show kissing instead of fighting, but you get the idea.)
If A-Rod’s hip is OK and Tex gets hot and stays hot and Aceves comes back to help us out of the pen, I think we’ll be just fine. In the meantime, we’ve got Gardner. Seriously, I knew he was fast (duh) and could slap the ball around Damon style, but I never figured him to be this good. He’s hitting .312, for God’s sake. It seems as if he’s always on base and scoring a run. What a bargain he’s turned out to be.
Right now I’m in countdown mode. It’s only six days until I’ll be at Dodger Stadium watching the Yankees in person. Michael and I will be sitting with Twitter buddy @SunnySoCal, and lots of other friendly faces will be there too, including this blog’s Yankee she-fans, Peggy and Ladyjane, and our Dodger counterparts, Cat and Emma. And, of course, it’ll be a reunion for the players with Torre and Mattingly. I’ve gotten used to seeing Joe in Dodger blue, but not Donnie. Never Donnie.
The screenwriter’s panel I went to over the weekend as part of the Santa Barbara Film Festival featured the writer of the quirky new romantic comedy “500 Days of Summer.”
He was interesting, so I figured I should see the movie. I thought it was a sweet little story, but imagine my surprise when I got to the final scene. Who was in it but Minka. She plays a girl waiting to be interviewed for a job. She has about six lines, but, hey, that’s more than Jeter has in his car commercials. I dug up her appearance on Craig Ferguson’s show to promote the film. If Letterman had been the host, he would have asked her about The Captain for sure. Instead, Ferguson makes stupid jokes. If nothing else, Minka is a good sport. So her mother invented the name “Minka” and her father was a guitarist in Aerosmith? Who knew?
And thanks to Leah, a frequent commenter on this blog, I checked out tonight’s episode of “Castle” on ABC to see Joe Torre’s cameo. Joe was Joe – calm, sincere, comfortable on camera. I don’t think he should give up his day job, but he wasn’t bad at all.
(I had to remove the clip since ABC decided not to permit viewing. Basically, it just shows Joe shaking hands with the two investigators and saying how sad it is about the murder of the ballplayer. He looks very earnest and Torre-like.)
Oh, and let me welcome Marcus Thames back to the Yankees. I have no idea what we’re going to do with him, but I’m sure his buddy Granderson will be glad to have him around.
Let’s see. That makes four left fielders, right? Gardner, Winn, Hoffman and now Thames? Too bad we didn’t hang on to Nady, Hinske and Hairston. There would have been a party out there.