I hate it when the Yankees are shut out. I hate it when they don’t get on base. I hate it when they look anemic with every swing. I hate it when Jeter says, “Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the pitcher,” because sometimes the pitcher is a nobody who’s simply had the good fortune to catch the Yanks on a bad day. But tonight? I’m tipping my cap to Felix Hernandez.
He made everybody look spazzy. I mean, two hits? Really? And he was so efficient about it. The guy had eleven strikeouts and three walks over nine innings. Cliff Lee pitched a completo last night, but the Yankees offense had chances. Not in this game. Not after the first inning. Of course, it’s hard to mount a comeback against anybody, let alone a pitcher of King Felix’s caliber, when your starter gives up two homers, your lefty specialist gives up one and your long reliever gives up another. Franklin Gutierrez left the game with an upset stomach, and our pitching gave me one too.
But here’s the thing. We’re in first place – by a thread, but still – and it’s a whole lot better than being in the cellar like the Mariners.
And not just because he and the Mariners beat the Yankees tonight. Well, he beat the Yankees minus Nick Swisher, who beat him with two homers.
And not because Phil Huuuuughes had an off night. It’s not even because Lee has now thrown three complete games in a row. (OK, yes, that’s part of it. I love pitchers who hang in there.) It’s because I still haven’t forgotten the pop up during the World Series. Remember? There he was, pitching a gem for the Phillies, when the ball was hit in the air and – without blinking – he stuck out his glove in the most nonchalant way and caught it.
The guy doesn’t get rattled, is as cool as they come, is completely comfortable on the big stage. I had the Mariners TV feed tonight, and after the game they interviewed Lee.
“I enjoy pitching with the big crowds in New York,” he said. “They know baseball here. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them when to cheer.”
I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of what he said. He likes New York. He’s not afraid to pitch at the Stadium. He’s proven it over and over. Is he perfect? Of course not. Do we already have enough pitching? Depends on whether A.J. pulls out of his funk, not to mention if Andy stays healthy down the road. Would we have to give up lots of prospects? Not if he’s signed as a free agent. What I’m saying is that if there’s a Cliff Lee Sweepstakes coming up, I want the Yankees to be in it.
I mean, just picture it. Instead of that guy shaking his hand, it would be Cashman. Sweet.
I know things are dull in Yankeeville right now, but I had to laugh when I went on YES’s web site and there was a link to an AP story with the headline: “Jeter likes Yankees’ chance to repeat.” The article, which consisted of about four sentences, said Jeter was working out in Tampa and told the reporter, “I like the team that we have.” How’s that for earth-shattering news?
My question is…What was Jeet supposed to say when asked how he likes the 2010 version of the Yankees and whether they’ll retain their title as champs? I suppose he could have said:
* “I’m picking the Mariners to win it all.”
* “I’m really mad that Cashman didn’t bring back Damon.”
* “I’ll be crossing my fingers that Nick Johnson doesn’t land on the DL on Opening Day.”
* “I haven’t gotten over how Javy Vazquez caved in ’04.”
* “I don’t want Granderson telling me what I can and cannot eat.”
* “I think A-Rod needs to get back together with Kate Hudson in order for us to win.”
Come on, YES web site. I look to you for actual Yankees updates. You can do a better job. You know you can.
It’s January 19th – not too much longer until pitchers and catchers report – but it FEELS like forever. Unless you’re a Mariners fan celebrating the long-term signing of King Felix or a Rockies fan cheering for the deal with Huston Street or a Giants fan getting excited about Bengie Molina, there’s NOTHING to do today except:
– Think about how the Yankees still need a left fielder. (Already did that.)
– Buy spring training tickets. (Already did that.)
– Check out what various bloggers have to say about the Yankees. (Already did that.)
– Contemplate the fact that A-Rod does better in odd years than even ones. (Already did that.)
– Support friends who root for the Jets. (Already did that.)
– Make a donation to the rescue efforts in Haiti. (Already did that.)
– Suggest to my husband that we adopt a Haitian orphan. (Already did that. He said no.)
– Cook something amazing for dinner. (Already did that. We’re having chicken in wine sauce.)
– Rehearse what I’m going to say at my event at Borders tomorrow night. (Already did that. It’s supposed to pour for the 4th day in a row, so who knows if anyone will show up.)
– Write a blog post for tonight. (Just did that. Sorry it’s not very interesting.)
– Try to snap out of my no-baseball funk. (All ideas for accomplishing this are much appreciated.)
– Watch a movie about a woman crazier than I am right now. (In progress.)
I was wondering when the Red Sox would start to stir.
The slumbering team from Boston wasn’t about to stay quiet forever (not counting Boof Bonser). So what if their Lowell deal seemed stalled and their overtures to Bay were rejected? We knew they wouldn’t spend this off-season sitting around talking about the good old days.
So they got Lackey for five years. He’s a good pitcher and he’ll make their rotation stronger and it sounds like the perfect signing. But I never did like Big John and now the “B” on his cap will make the rivalry that much more intense. Besides, he was destined to wear red for the rest of his career.
The Sox also made a deal with Mike Cameron, whom the Yankees talked about acquiring last year and the year before that but never did. The 37-year-old outfielder is said to be a terrific guy in the clubhouse, but is he really an upgrade over Bay in left?
I guess we’ll find out this spring when the two teams face off to open the 2010 season. If tradition continues, they’ll kick our butts the first couple of times around and we’ll kick theirs later in the year and it’ll be another fight to the finish. But if you ask me, the team to watch will be the Mariners. What have they been smoking?
Sure, the Phillies put the Halladay saga to rest and the Angels picked up Godzilla, but the Mariners, having already signed Figgins, ended up with Cliff Lee. I mean, seriously. The AL West just got a whole lot more interesting. Of course, while all this was happening today, US Weekly reported that A-Rod and Kate had broken up. Talk about a kick in the gut. I not only went to see her movie over the weekend but gave her the She-Fan Award for Best Girlfriend! How could she? How could they?
Speaking of movies, I escaped all the baseball news this afternoon and went to see “The Blind Side.” I’m not a football fan, but this true story, based on Michael Lewis’ book, was inspiring and Sandra Bullock was terrific. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s worth a look.
Joba lasted his usual three innings in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Mariners, and they weren’t pretty: seven earned runs on six hits, including a three-run dinger to Griffey. The Yankees couldn’t muster any offense, either; only Tex had a pulse. The bright spot was Mitre, who threw five scoreless innings in relief.
So what’s the real reason Joba has baffled everybody with his ineffectiveness this year? Could it be that he never pitched a full season in Triple A? That he shouldn’t have been moved from the pen to the rotation? That the Joba Rules messed with his mind? That he’s injured and not telling anyone?
All of the above are plausible answers, but I’ve come up with some other possibilities that, if implemented, could salvage his season. Here we go.
#1) Joba Should Take Back His Birth Name.
As everyone knows by now, his little niece couldn’t pronounce his real name, Justin, and the nickname “Joba” stuck. But pitchers named Justin do extremely well in baseball, as in this guy. Change it back.
#2) The Yankees should put Harlan Chamberlain, Joba’s father, on the payroll.
Joba went home to Nebraska during the All-Star break and pitched great when he first returned to the team. Whatever Harlan said or did worked miracles. Make Harlan an “advisor” and let him coach his son. He’d be better than Dave Eiland.
#3) Joba Should Hang Out With Roger Clemens.
No, really. When Clemens was with the Yankees in ’07, he mentored Joba and preached throwing strikes, being aggressive, attacking the zone. Whether the Rocket also taught him about Icy Hot liniment treatments I couldn’t tell you, but what harm could they do?
#4) The YES Network should produce a “Yankeeography” about Joba.
I realize that Yankeeographies are reserved for players who’ve been been with the team awhile, not to mention excelled as Yankees, but it would give Joba confidence to know that the organization still believes in him, despite his suckitude.
#5) Joba should come over to my house while he’s in SoCal.
He won’t be pitching in the Angels series. He’ll have plenty of time on his hands. He should get in his rental car, drive up to Santa Barbara and let me explain the facts of life to him over a nice home-cooked meal. And then I’ll pop in the DVD of “Bull Durham” and make him watch the scene between Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) that goes like this.
Crash: “You’ve got a gift. When you were a baby, the gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. You’ve got a Hall of Fame arm, but you’re pissing it away.”
Nuke: “I ain’t pissing nothing away. I got a Porsche already. I got a 911 with a quadraphonic Blaupunkt.”
Crash: “You don’t need a quadraphonic Blaupunkt. What you need is a curveball. In the show, everybody can hit a fastball.”
Nuke: “Well, how would you know? You’ve been in the majors?”
Crash: “Yeah, I’ve been in the majors. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You never handle your luggage in the show. Somebody else carries your bags. You get white balls for batting practice. The ballparks are like cathedrals. The hotels all have room service. The women all have long legs and brains.”
Nuke: “They’re really hot, huh?”
Crash: “Yeah, and so are the pitchers. They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the show – exploding sliders. You could be one of those guys.”
I hope Joba takes me up on my offer. There are lessons to be learned from baseball movies, whether you’re a pitcher named Nuke LaLoosh or Joba Chamberlain.
With the arrival of fall comes the release of “serious” movies that will be in the mix for Oscar nominations. Since I’m in the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s “cinema society” group, I’m lucky enough to go to lots of great screenings at this time of year. Today’s film was “The Boys Are Back,” a drama set in Australia about a sportswriter (he covers tennis, not baseball) who’s forced to raise his two sons alone after his wife dies. The movie could easily have been sappy, but Clive Owen is outstanding in the lead role. He came up from LA for a reception after the screening and I spent a few minutes talking to him (and staring at him).
He was also very nice and tolerated all my dumb questions. Like: “How did you make yourself cry in that scene?” “What are you working on next?” “Do you hate having to stand here and answer questions like this?” I wish I’d had the She-Fan Cam with me. But here’s the trailer for the movie.
The second half of my doubleheader wasn’t bad either: the Yankees’ 10-1 beat-up on the Mariners. After last night’s heartbreaker, it was an excellent bounce back, thanks to tremendous offense by just about everybody in the lineup but especially:
* Tex (a double shy of the cycle, but two homers will do)
* Cano (three doubles and a single)
* Matsui (a monster shot to put the Yanks up 2-0).
But the star of the game was CC. The guy is a marvel of consistency and dependability.
Not only did he deliver another quality start (seven innings, one unearned run), but he seemed unfazed by Gutierrez’s wicked comebacker to his chest.
I’m telling you, it hurt me more than it hurt him.
But then he has way more padding than I do.
Sunday will be another movie/baseball doubleheader, so I need to rest up. But first? A huge cheer for the Yankees, whose magic number is down to nine.
Tonight’s opener against the Mariners was moving right along. Everything was going just the way Yankee fans would have drawn it up.
AJ delivered the kind of performance we’d been hoping for, allowing only one run over seven innings – including two (yes, two) pickoffs of Ichiro. The Yanks were facing Cy Young candidate “King” Felix Hernandez, so it was no small feat when they went up 2-1 in the sixth on Tex‘s sac fly. But then the tension mounted.
Huuuuuuuughes came on for the bottom of the eighth and retired the side in order, looking pretty impressive doing it. It would have been sweet if the Yankees’ offense had tacked on an insurance run or two in the top of the ninth, but no matter. We had Mo on the mound to take care of the Mariners in their half.
And he did take care of them. Well, the first two of them. In fact, his strikeout of Carp, who was out number #2, was the 1000th K of his career. All he and the Yankees needed was one more out and the victory would be assured. And then the unthinkable. I’m still freaking out as I type this.
Mo gave up a double to Sweeney, not to be confused with the Sweeny who covers the Yankees for WFAN.
So what, I figured. There are two outs and it’s Mo pitching, not some journeyman. The guy has only blown one save in 43 opportunities. I wasn’t wild about having to see Ichiro again, since all he does is get on base. But there he was, looming large in that little body.
Before I knew what hit me, Ichiro hit the ball out of the park.
The Mariners won the game 3-2 and I sat in front of the TV going, “WHY? WHY?”
It’s baseball, that’s why. I have no other good answer.
That’s what my husband Michael told me after the Yankees were thumped by the Mariners 10-3 in Sunday’s series finale.
“We can’t win them all?” I said with a straight face. “It was starting to feel as if we’d never lose.”
“The Yankees took three of four and are in first place by seven-and-a-half games,” he said. “You just have to laugh this one off.”
“You’re right,” I conceded. “I was being greedy and demanding and totally unrealistic. I’ll laugh this one off like you said.”
Joba’s five inning performance, during which he gave up four runs, walked three and pitched like a nibbler instead of an aggressor?
Not a problem at all! I’ll laugh it off!
Aceves’ ugly relief appearance that lasted only 1+ innings and yielded another four runs?
No biggie! I’ll laugh it off!
Chad Gaudin’s fat pitch to Johjima for a homer?
So what if he’s scheduled to make his first start on Wednesday and is Cashman’s idea of a good acquisition! I’ll laugh it off!
Oh, and those fly balls that were either bobbled or not caught by Hairston and Damon?
Who cares? It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Safeco Field! Nick Swisher had another homer! Life is good! I’ll laugh it off!
The truth is, the Yankees have been playing like champions lately and I don’t begrudge them a bad day. The Mariners pitchers were excellent and Ichiro is a hitting machine. Speaking of which, congratulations are in order. Jeter passed “Little Luis” Aparicio to become Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in hits for shortstops.
I’m not laughing at that. I’m applauding.
Monday features an interesting pitching match-up as the Yankees move on to face Oakland: A.J. Burnett versus former-Yankee-with-an-ax-to-grind Brett Bombko. On paper, we win this one easily. But paper is just that.
Come ready to play, Yankees.
Glub. Glub. Glub.
The Mariners have struck out 30+ times in this series, but it was their error in the second inning tonight that set the stage for their latest defeat at the hands of those happy, love-is-in-the-air Yankees.
Melky hit one to right center, and Gutierrez heard Ichiro creeping over and dropped the ball. I guess I-Row has that effect on people.
As a result, Jeter’s sac fly scored Melky to break a 1-1 tie.
Homers by Swisher and Jeter added to the fun, and the Yanks went on to beat Seattle 5-2. Was Sergio Mitre better than he’s been in previous starts? Or are the Mariners just a punchless, free-swinging team? Maybe a little of both, but it was Robertson who saved Sergio’s bacon.
With the bases loaded in the sixth, he came in and struck out the two batters he faced. Sweet. Coke and Mo did their jobs too. And then there was Molina. I-Row inexplicably tried to steal third base in the seventh and Jose nailed him.
Tonight’s win puts the Yankees 7.5 games up over the Red Sox. Anything can happen in the next six weeks, but I’m thinking only positive thoughts.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Yeah, right. Here’s what I’m really thinking.