Along with the news that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are reuniting to join the Rays comes word that Damon will be paid a $750,000 performance bonus. I’m not even going to attempt to make a bad joke about performance.
(Okay, I just did. Sorry about that.) Anyhow, I’m wondering how the Rays will determine whether or not Johnny earns his $750,000 in 2011. Will the bonus be based on the number of tickets sold throughout the course of the season or the number of bodies that actually show up at the Trop? If so, how would they attribute the totals to Damon, as opposed to any other player? Or maybe it has to do with how many Damon jerseys they move? How many bobble head dolls? I don’t mean to be deliberately obtuse. I just don’t get it. Can someone explain?
As for the Angels’ acquisition of Vernon Wells, I’m glad he’s out of the AL East. He may be a streaky player for whom Anaheim overpaid, but he always seemed to do damage against the Yankees and I’m not sorry to see him go west.
Meanwhile, we head into another weekend without answers for our rotation. I remain mystified by this. Yes, Yankee fans are spoiled, used to having our pick of the best guys available, blah blah blah. So what. We’ve long moved past the years when Andy Hawkins and Dave LaPoint were our aces. We deserve better. Right, Hal? Look at me. I’m talking to you.
Finally, a break in the downpours. I actually had to blink when I looked out my window and saw that it wasn’t raining – and that, in fact, the sun was trying to come out. Sun. Yes, sun. After days and days of cabin fever, I bolted for the multiplex having read the great reviews for “True Grit” this morning. The movie didn’t disappoint. Here’s the trailer.
I love westerns and I love most of the Coen brothers’ movies, so this was a match made in heaven. I don’t remember the original with John Wayne and am glad I don’t. The Coen brothers’ version is faithful to the novel, complete with the book’s dialogue, and the cinematography is as gorgeous as a painting. Jeff Bridges is his usual great self and the young girl who plays Mattie is terrific. But it’s Matt Damon whose performance knocked me over; he’s a Texas Ranger (no, not the baseball kind) who takes himself very seriously. He makes the character both funny and compelling.
Is the report of the Yankees’ interest in Johnny Damon funny or compelling – or both? I did a post here the other day about the return of Vizcaino. I didn’t much like that idea and I have no particular enthusiasm for a possible second act in pinstripes for Damon. Sure, I enjoyed having him the first time around and was sorry to see him sign with Detroit. And if he’s willing to be a bench player (which I doubt), I’d be happy to have him come up with men on base and slap a homer into Damon’s Deck. But can he pitch? Because that’s what we need: a starting pitcher.
* The Yankees left 13 men on base and were 3-for-14 with RISP.
* Mark Teixeira is killing us with the bat, although he’s still a genius with the glove.
* Jeter isn’t a very impressive leadoff guy right now.
* Randy Winn is about as good a left fielder as I am.
* Kevin Russo, a call-up from Triple A, is our hottest hitter.
* Phil Hughes wasn’t sharp, but three runs shouldn’t have been insurmountable.
* Chan Ho Park isn’t getting people out.
* I miss Damon and Matsui.
* I sound like a yapping dog, but I can’t help it.
I know. I’m overreacting. We beat the O’s tonight — welcome to Yankeeville, Randy Winn! — and I’m happy about that. CC going eight strong innings was sweet too. So was Swisher’s hot bat. But it was tough to see Posada go down with a calf strain, especially after he’d just recovered from his last encounter with Jeremy Guthrie. And I wasn’t thrilled that it was Joba, not Mo, who trotted in for the save in the ninth. So Mo’s side is stiff? Don’t they still make this?
With Granderson out for God knows how long and Chan Ho Park not making any progress, I’d really hate it if the Yankees were taken down by injuries. So hear this: NOBODY ELSE IS ALLOWED TO GET HURT OR SICK! NOBODY!
Mo said he could have pitched tonight but Girardi didn’t want to “push it.” I agree. Mo is like a priceless piece of art.
Actually, I think Mo is better looking than Mo-na, but that’s just me. Anyhow, the Yanks are right to be careful with him. On the other hand, we need him. So I hope a little rest will do the trick and he’ll be his old/young self in no time.
(Wow. He was even skinnier than Edwar Ramirez.)
What to make of the Yankees’ decision to skip Vazquez’s next start in Boston? Again, I think it was the right call — if his problem is mechanical. He can “catch his breath,” as Girardi said, and work on whatever’s wrong. If his problem is mental, however, the decision could make him lose even more confidence in himself. By all accounts, he’s a good guy who doesn’t complain, doesn’t have an attitude and just wants to pitch well. I hope his little hiatus is helpful to him. But as of now, he’ll be starting in Detroit, which means a bigger ballpark than Fenway, sure, but it also means he’ll be facing an old and painful nemesis.
As Joe Louis said, “He can run but he can’t hide.”
He was absolutely spectacular today in the Yanks’ 7-1 win over the Angels. I mean, eight innings with eight K’s and zero walks? So what if he’s showing a few gray hairs. OK, more than a few. Maybe someone will get him a box of this.
All I know is that he pitched like an ageless wonder and it couldn’t have come at a better time, given the Yankees’ modest two-game losing streak and the prospect of facing the same Pineiro who stymied our offense recently. The good news there was that it wasn’t the same Pineiro. This version got hit early and often.
Everybody (almost) contributed offensively, with Cano, Swisher and Cervelli deserving special mention. And then there was Brett Gardner, batting second in place of the injured Nick Johnson. (I was snarky on Twitter; I said Johnson hurt his back because he finally swung at a pitch. Bad me.) Gardner was a revelation, not only playing his running game but spanking the ball. Would it be a stretch to hope he develops into the kind of #2 hitter some of us have been missing?
Well? He’s got more speed. He has a better arm in left field. And he slaps hits around, like Damon does. He doesn’t have Damon’s power, but maybe that’ll come. In the meantime, he was fun to watch today. Doesn’t he kind of look like Damon here?
Also worth a mention was Marte. Nice job, Maso or whatever nickname Girardi has given you. Up next? Vazquez. I’d really like the Yankees to win this series, which means that Javy will have to hold up his end. Or, if he falters, it’s possible we could see Mitre…unless he really has gone missing.
The Yankees flew north today, prepared to fight for another championship.
All the talk about whether Joba should start or relieve, whether Johnson should bat second instead of Granderson, whether Vazquez will be better the second time around, whether the Yankees will be weaker without Damon and Matsui…none of it matters now. The roster is set. The team is ready to go. I am ready to go.
Actually, I haven’t decided if I’ll resort to the lucky pizza for tomorrow night’s game. It’s only Opening Night, not the World Series, so probably not. On the other hand, it was really, really good.
Yesterday morning I woke up to another chilly, windy day, but the sun was shining and I was so happy to be in the vicinity of actual Yankees.
My husband Michael went down to the lobby of the Vinoy to get some coffee. When he came back to the room, he said casually, “I just saw Nick Johnson.”
“Excuuuuse me?” I said. I mean, what would Nick Johnson be doing in the lobby of the Vinoy at 8 am? Granted, the Yankees had an off day, but still. The Yankees don’t spend spring training staying at hotels in St. Pete. “Are you sure it was Nick?”
“On a scale of one to ten, how sure are you?”
“Maybe a two.”
“In other words, it wasn’t Nick Johnson. It was just a tall, balding guy, and you’re getting me all excited for nothing.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Oh, well. We spent the afternoon sightseeing in downtown St. Pete. I was strolling along in my Yankees cap when a woman said as she was passing me, “So you’re a Yankee fan.” I smiled and said, “Yes! Are you?” She gave me a withering look and said, “Nooooo.” It turned out she’s a Phillies fan who also roots for the Rays. We bonded over baseball despite our different team allegiances, and I asked if she’d take a sec to talk to you via the Cam. Here’s Gloria.
See? I told you it was windy. I hope it dies down for tonight’s game against the Astros, or we might see a lot of balls hit out of the park. Not a bad thing if it’s the Yankees doing the mashing.
Speaking of food, Michael and I drove to Tampa for dinner at Maggiano’s Italian restaurant, since John, Friend of the Blog, commented the other day that he saw Ramiro Pena there.
There weren’t any Yankees in attendance, but we had a terrific Yankee fan waiter named Andrew who told us where the Yanks do eat – and when. What’s more, after serving us portions of food that would have fed a family of ten, he took a short break and submitted to the She-Fan Cam. It was extremely noisy in the restaurant, so you might have trouble hearing him, but give it a shot.
Some highlights in case you missed them:
He saw CC and Joba having dinner two nights ago while at his other job at a hot new eatery in South Tampa called Cheap.
Apparently, they’re a twosome. He said that other, better known twosome, Jeter and Posada, often have dinner together at P.F. Changs – especially on Wednesday nights.
He said the construction on Jeter’s 30,000 square foot house on Tampa’s Davis Island is now finished and the Captain has moved in…which prompted me to ask if he’d seen Minka around. Check out his reaction.
Oh, and he said Damon wasn’t much of a tipper. LOL.
A big thanks to Andrew for turning his back on all his customers just to be on this blog. Just kidding. He was a sweetheart.
More later from Steinbrenner Field. Go Yankeeeees!
There was no TV coverage of Yankees-Tigers in Lakeland, but by all accounts Grandy’s over-the-shoulder grab of Miguel “I’d rather party with the White Sox” Cabrera’s deep fly ball to center was sensational. Maybe they’ll show highlights tonight, but in the meantime I went browsing for what many consider to be the greatest circus catch of all time – and found it.
With any luck, Granderson will treat Yankee fans to a lot more heroics. He was great at the plate today too – two singles and a walk. Maybe the Yanks should play the Tigers every day. Well, unless Joba is pitching. Yeah, he’s “working on things.” It’s spring training. Time to try new pitches, tinker with mechanics, not worry about the stats. I get it. But six runs over 2+ innings? Now that I’ve become a convert and decided he should be in the pen, why not just put him there and get it over with?
I also would have liked to have seen Damon in a Tigers uni, but he didn’t play because of a problem with his toe.
And I missed getting a glimpse of Phil Coke’s new look. Apparently, he has gone from this…
Yeah, I know. That’s Jayson Werth. I couldn’t find a shot of Coke with all his facial hair. One of these days…
Congrats to Tex for hitting his first homer of 2010. May there be many more to come, preferably during the season opener at Fenway.
In yesterday’s post, our friend of the blog, cheshirecat, expressed concern – or maybe just a bit of curiosity – about the fact that the Yankees have opened spring training camp without a single controversy. Indeed, the news from Tampa has been all business, plus a little good-natured discussion of Swisher’s new haircut.
There’s been none of this type stuff, in other words.
Why the Yankees didn’t sign Damon or where Nick Johnson will bat in the lineup don’t qualify as “controversies.” A-Rod’s no longer married, so nobody really cares who he goes out with. The subject of Jeter’s contract was put to rest when he told the media, “I’m not talking about it for the rest of the season.” And A.J. and Jorge are said to be finding harmony on the mound and behind the plate, respectively. So what gives? Nobody’s done anything stupid yet. The tabloids have nothing provocative to write about. There are no longer any Steinbrennerian smackdowns that send everybody into a hissy. Yes, we’re only in February, but it’s all so eerily….unYankeelike.
Which is why I’m posing the question: What will be the first controversy of 2010? A few suggestions.
* A Failed Drug Test.
Anyone who’d be dumb enough to be taking a banned substance at this point deserves whatever punishment they get. I can’t see it happening on this Yankees team, but…
* An A-Rod Something.
Supposedly, he’s all about the team now and isn’t interested in self-promotion. After the way he played last year, especially in the postseason, I really think the nutty photo shoots are a thing of the past.
* A Brawl at Fenway During the Season Opener, With Suspensions.
Chances are that Varitek will not be catching, but there’s always a chance that somebody will brush somebody back or mutter a few choice words, and tempers will flare. Nobody’s all that worried about suspensions this early in the year, although injuries would be a huge reason to be a pacifist.
* A Slow Start for Tex.
We should be ready for it. We saw what happened last year. Tex was a slow-starter with the bat and he more than compensated with his glove. And then he went on an offensive tear. No biggie.
* A Slow Start for the Team/Girardi Gets Canned.
I know this won’t happen. I just do.
* Granderson, Solid Citizen and Presidential Nutrition Spokesperson, Will Be Revealed to Have a Secret Addiction to These.
OK, I’m out of ideas. Anybody else want to take a crack at this? Or are we looking at a 100% controversy-free season?
Now that our long national nightmare is over and Johnny Damon has made a deal with the Tigers, it seems appropriate to bid him – and other former members of the 2009 Yankees – a formal farewell. Let’s start with Damon himself.
From now on (or at least for the 2010 season), his uniform will have one of these on it.
Judging by the one-year, $8 million the Tigers are said to be paying him, he should have stayed with the Yankees. The weather’s better in New York and so are the restaurants. But farewell, Johnny. Good luck to you.
Jose Molina won’t be wearing the pinstripes either.
Instead, his uni will have a little birdie on it.
He wasn’t much of a hitter, but I sure liked his catching and I know the Yankees pitchers did too. Goodbye, Jose. Have fun in Toronto, eh?
Melky has already been photographed in his Braves uniform and it’s not all that’s changed about his appearance. He’s grown a beard, if you can call it that. (Hat tip: LoHud)
Oh, Melk Man. You weren’t the greatest outfielder we ever had, but I’ll miss all those walk-offs. What I won’t miss is your habit of sliding into first. May the Tomahawk Chop be with you.
Hideki Matsui in an Angels uniform was jarring at first.
But didn’t I just read that his knees are hurting already? Not a good sign. I send him greetings and best wishes. I hope he gets more of a kick out of the rally monkey than I do.
And finally, I must bid a final adieu to Brian Bruney and C-M Wang. Here’s one last look in their Yankees garb…
…because the next time we see them they’ll be sporting this.
Oh. I just realized I forgot Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy. Out of sight, out of mind. Baseball is a cruel business.