Tagged: Phil Hughes

‘Twas An Apple Christmas

And I’m not talking about this kind.
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I live in a Mac household and Santa usually brings me some assortment of accessories for my MacBook Pro, my iPhone or my iPod. Like the nifty dock below that allows me to play music through my stereo speakers.
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I went to our local Apple store this afternoon to add to my loot and the place was mobbed. People weren’t just exchanging gifts either; the line for getting new stuff trailed all the way around the store. But instead of total chaos, there was customer service help everywhere you turned – bright-eyed men and women wearing red shirts and earpieces who not only wanted to answer questions but actually knew the answers. This is all my long-winded way of saying I think Steve Jobs is a genius who could probably make me buy anything he’s selling.
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What does this have to do with baseball? Stay with me.
I have no idea if Jobs is a fan of sports in general or baseball in particular, but I can’t help wondering what a guy with his intelligence, marketing savvy and bank account would do with a major league team. I’ll tell you what he wouldn’t do if he owned the Yankees; he wouldn’t start the season with a rotation of CC, AJ, Hughes, Nova and Mitre. Nope. He’d engineer some sort of big signing – keeping his plan secret and then announcing the deal at a news conference that would whip the media into a frenzy. “Yankees Rotation Version 2011” is what he’d call it and then he’d list all the reasons why it represented a much improved formula.
I’m not saying the Yankees won’t still go out and get a pitcher before the season starts or that we’re not okay with the arms we already have (Mitre excluded). Maybe our new pitching coach will have a sensational session with AJ this week or whenever they’re meeting up. Maybe Pettitte will decide to come back for another year. And maybe Ivan Nova is the next King Felix.
A girl can hope. That’s what the holiday season is all about, isn’t it?

Look What Brian Cashman Sent Me!

Really thoughtful of the Yankees’ GM to put me on his holiday cards list this year – a card featuring our starting rotation for 2011. And what surprises his card contained! Who knew, for example, that Phil Hughes had “lead singer” in him even with CC around or that AJ was such a wild man (well, we kind of knew that). Also, what a clever way of letting me know that Pettitte has decided to pitch another year for us. But the biggest surprise of all was seeing Felix Hernandez in the band. I had a hunch we wouldn’t be stuck with Mitre filling out the rotation or even Nova; Cash had much more lofty ambitions and I’m very grateful for that. Rock on, Yankees.

Top Ten Reasons Why Dave Eiland Was Fired

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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.
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#9  He repeatedly told Mo that the Panamian skirt steak at Mo’s New York Grill was tough and overcooked.
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#8  During Game 6 of the ALCS, he picked up the phone in the dugout and called 1-800-FLOWERS.
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#7  He refused to wear a jacket and tie on the flight back from Texas.
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#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.
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#5  He had T-shirts printed up that said, “Javy Vazquez belongs in the National League.”
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#4  He teased Jonathan Albaladejo that he looked like Lurch in the Addams Family.
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#3  He deliberately miscounted the number of innings Phil Hughes pitched this year. Oops.
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#2  He invited Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to the same cocktail party.
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And #1 (Drum roll) He was the one who gave A.J. the black eye.
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Yanks-Rangers Game 2: It Was All My Fault

Don’t blame Huuuughes for today’s defeat. While it’s true that he looked like he was throwing batting practice and forced the offense to attempt yet another monumental comeback, this one’s on me. I did not grill the lucky turkey burgers.
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My excuse is that it’s been really foggy here – like this foggy.
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I can’t even see the grill out the window. Plus, it was still afternoon here when the Rangers were hitting bombs off Huuuuughes, and who wants to eat burgers at 3 o’clock? So I didn’t do it, and the Yankees lost. I’m sorry.
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On the other hand, maybe lucky food had nothing to do with this loss. I say that because Audrey, Friend of the Blog, baked lucky Yankees cupcakes and we still played like dead people. (Here’s a pic she sent me. Yum.)
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OK, let’s get down to basics. For the second game in a row, our starting pitching stank up the joint and it’s a little scary. These are the guys we count on to give us innings, keep the opposition off balance, get hitters out. They can’t be having trouble with command, mechanics or whatever the hell else was the problem. The bullpen has been a bright spot and Cano is on fire, but can Dave Eiland please fix whatever’s wrong with our rotation? I don’t want to hear about the extra rest anymore. I want Andy to come out with killer stuff in the Bronx on Monday night.
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I know, I know. I’m supposed to be grateful that we gained a split in Texas. But I was kind of enjoying the constant yammering about how the Rangers hadn’t won a postseason game at home – ever. I was hoping to keep the monkey on my back.
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Well, on their back. Anyhow, I’m switching over to FOX now for the NLCS so I can forget about that fiasco. Ugh.

Why You Can Throw Out The Regular Season

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Not to discount everything that happened before the playoffs started, but I was thinking about all the Yankees “truisms” – comments the media kept pounding into our heads that turned out not to be true in the ALDS. For example:
* The Yanks have trouble beating lefties.
* It’s harder to win on the road.
* Jeter’s not hitting.
* Mo is showing his age.
* Hughes doesn’t win at home.
* Andy’s rusty.
* Berkman’s power days are over.
* The Twins are hungry while the Yankees are fading.
When I look over that list, I have to laugh. What happened to all the conventional wisdom?
* The Yankees beat Lefty Liriano and Lefty Duensing.
* They won two games at Target Field.
* Jeter had four hits in the series.
* Mo notched two saves.
* Hughes won at home in convincing fashion.
* Andy gave up two runs in seven innings.
* Berkman homered and doubled.
* The Twins may have been hungry but the Yanks were hungrier.
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I wonder what the pundits will say when the ALCS gets going. There will be story lines galore – the TBS guys have all that time in the booth to fill – and I can anticipate some already.
* Posada can’t throw out runners.
* Posada can’t catch A.J.
* Posada is too old.
No, everything won’t be about Jorge, but we’ll be hearing about him for sure. You can also cue the “Girardi could be managing the Cubs next year if the Yankees don’t win it all” blather. And: “Cano is having a fine year but Josh Hamilton is the MVP.” Oh, and brace yourself for the Payroll Conversation; it’s a given. All that being said, I cannot wait until Friday night. If this week is a taste of what life will be like once baseball is over, I don’t want any.
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P.S. A quick reminder about the Crumbs Yankees Cupcakes Contest. We’ll know our opponent by the end of the day tomorrow, so be sure to answer all the contest questions, make your predictions, and enter to win six scrumptious cupcakes. Click here for details.

Yanks-Twins Game 3: Let The Party Begin!

Since the players seemed very well protected from the sting of champagne tonight, I figured I’d follow suit and don my rain slicker, shower cap and goggles. Why suffer? 
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Despite their sputtering en route to the playoffs, the Yankees showed why they’re the reigning World Champs, sweeping away a good-but-not-good-enough Twins team. I was so proud of them. But special mention has to go to Huuuuuughes, who stepped onto the mound and delivered a spectacular performance. It’s very heartening to see a young player reward a team’s faith in him that way. There was a time when I would have considered shipping him off to get a Santana or Halladay, but clearly I was a fool. (See above photo for further proof of that.) I also doubted that Marcus Thames would make a contribution earlier in the season, and he, too, proved me wrong. (I would make a really lousy G.M.) Anyhow, what I loved about this entire series was that our “core four” guys were as superb as ever and the newer guys did a great job too. Joe managed each game as if we were talking about Game 7 of the World Series, and while I winced every time he called for Mo, I can’t argue with wanting to get this round won and done – the first time the Yanks have moved into round two as the wild card team. I’m just glad I made it home from my friend’s daughter’s wedding this afternoon in time for the first pitch. The cake was pretty, wasn’t it? You can’t see the inside, but the center layer was chocolate heaven. 
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On the subject of cake, I’ll announce a cake-related contest in Monday’s post and will simply say now that one lucky winner will be eating sweet. In the meantime, most of you have “met” my mother from all the She-Fan Cam videos I’ve done with her. Now, you’ll find out how she became a Yankee fan. A piece I wrote about her is running in Sunday’s New York Times sports section (it’s on their web site tonight). Enjoy.
CHEERING SECTION

Twice Widowed and Now Smitten With Men in Pinstripes

Baseball is full of heartwarming “Field of Dreams”-y stories about fathers and sons playing catch in the backyard, going to their first ballgame together and building a closer relationship over hot dogs.

Bob Eckstein

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Major League Baseball

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My mother, on the other hand, wasn’t big on playing catch (“It’ll
ruin my manicure”), didn’t take me to a single ballgame (“Go with your nice friends, dear”) or eat hot dogs (“God only knows what’s really in them”).

In those days, she wasn’t a fan of theYankees or any other team. Widowed, newly remarried and the mother of six, she was focused on raising our blended family in Scarsdale, N.Y., and commuting into Manhattan to teach Greek and Latin at Hunter College. The only time she ever talked to me about baseball was to scold me for thumbtacking Mickey Mantle posters to my bedroom wall and poking holes in the avocado green paint.

She grew up in the Bronx with a father who adored the Yanks, so she could hardly escape the names Babe Ruth,Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, but the sport itself held no appeal for her. To wit, she was cleaning out her closet one afternoon during my college vacation and came upon what looked like a yellowed, tattered menu.

“You might as well have this,” she said, handing it to me. “It’s got Babe Ruth’s autograph on it, so maybe it’s worth something.”

I was stunned and said, “How in the world did you get his autograph?”

She shrugged, nonchalant about a bona fide treasure, and said: “He was at the next table when your dad and I were out for dinner. I walked over with the menu and asked him to sign it.”

As I got older, my Yankees fandom became a genuine mania, and Mom, now widowed for the second time, would stare at me as I’d watch games and rail at whichever batter left a runner in scoring position, saying, “You’re very entertaining, dear, but why do you raise your blood pressure with this nonsense?”

I decided it was time to explain the basics of baseball to her — just the way so many fathers have explained the sport to their sons. I went through the list of Yankees players on the roster that year and gave them each a back story. I described the difference between a slider and a splitter and pantomimed various pitchers’ windups. And, of course, I ticked off the many, many reasons why Yankees fans hate the Red Sox.

Mom absorbed my lecture, then asked lots of questions, including: “Who decided there should be four balls allowed but only three strikes?” “Does the D.H. get paid less money since all he does is hit?” “Why do the players spit so much?”

I didn’t have all the answers, but I was glad she was interested enough to care. When we had finally exhausted the subject, she nodded and said: “To think I’ve been wasting my evenings watching ‘Law & Order.’ I’ll give baseball a try.” Have I mentioned that she was in her 80s when this conversation occurred?

From then on, she started watching the Yankees every night, settling in with the YES Network, familiarizing herself with the players and coaches, learning the rhythms of the game, staying awake until the final outs. She realized what good company the Yanks were; she was no longer alone or lonely. In other words, she became a fan — late in life, yes, but no less hard core.

She developed an attachment to Bernie Williams and was bereft when he wasn’t re-signed. She regarded Melky Cabrera as her wayward son and called him “my Melky.” She became positively giddy whenever Mariano Rivera trotted in from the bullpen to “Enter Sandman,” although I’m sure she thought Metallica was a type of jewelry sold on QVC.

Now, at 93, she is as addicted to the Yankees as I am. Her memory isn’t what it used to be; she forgets the players’ names or mangles them. Cano can be “Canoe.” Jorge is often “Hor-gay.” And C. C. is — well, she doesn’t remember the Sabathia part unless prompted.

Still, every time I fly in from California for a visit, we eat dinner on tray tables in front of the TV so we can watch the games without missing a pitch. We bond over baseball in a way we never bonded over shopping, cooking or other girly pleasures — a mother and daughter debating the pros and cons of batting Jeter in the leadoff spot.

Here’s the catch. I may have turned Mom on to the team I love, but she ended up being the truer, more steadfast fan. She doesn’t scream at the TV, doesn’t panic when the Yankees are losing, doesn’t second-guess Joe Girardi‘s every move, doesn’t even freak out when Austin Kearns whiffs with the bases loaded. She’s unwavering in her cheering, without all the hysteria I bring to every game.

“How come you never get angry at them?” I asked during my most recent trip east.

“Because they’re the Yankees,” she said with conviction. “They always try to come through and do their best. You of all people should know that, dear.”

“Yes,” I said, chastened. “I should.”

As I watched my team compete against the Twins in an American League division series last week, I tried to come through and do my best — to emulate the fandom my very wise mother taught me.

Jane Heller is the author of “Confessions of a She-Fan: The Course of True Love with the New York Yankees.”

In Honor of Phil Huuuughes….Meet The Parents

I know this is an old video from the All Star break, but since Huuuuughes is making his big start tomorrow night in the Bronx I thought I’d resurrect it. I can’t decide if my favorite part is his mother saying how much he weighed at birth (yikes) or his collection of bobble head dolls.
Mr. and Mrs. Hughes were at the All Star game in Anaheim and Phil didn’t pitch so well. I have no idea if they’re planning to be at the game tomorrow night, but if they’re bad luck I hope they stay home and watch their boy on that nice TV in their house. Game 3 is a must win, as far as I’m concerned. I have no interest in playing a fourth game in this series, so we need to shut the door on the Twins – shut it and lock it.
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