Tagged: Pirates

Can A Team Be “Destined to Win the World Series?”

I just finished watching MLB Network’s broadcast of the famous Game 7 of the 1960 Yankees-Pirates World Series. What fun it was, despite the fact that the Yankees lost on Bill Mazeroski’s homer and Mickey Mantle was said to shed tears in the clubhouse after the game.
Mickey.WS.jpg
The Mick cried because he thought the Yankees were the better team and should have won. Maybe so, but the Pirates were the ones that got it done and were hailed as a “team of destiny.”
'60WS.jpg
Which got me wondering….are some teams destined to win, no matter how much offensive power or quality pitching they do or don’t have? Nobody predicted the Giants would win it all this year, for example, and yet they did. Were they a “team of destiny,” like the ’60 Pirates? I was a New York kid in 1960 and one of my sisters, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was dating a Pittsburgh boy. Needless to say, he was ecstatic when his Pirates won and all I heard from him was Maz this and Maz that. We know what happened to the Pirates in recent years and it isn’t pretty. But back then, they had a magical season. As we move through this winter and continue to debate trades and free agent signings and which team looks the best on paper, it occurred to me that we don’t know anything about the 2011 season. We really don’t. Lurking out there among all the teams in all the divisions is a team of destiny – a team that will overcome injuries, stage thrilling comebacks, beat the odds. Which team will it be? 
question_mark.gif
Who knows. That’s why we watch the games.

Off-Day Entertainment: Doc Ellis Goes Tripping

When Dave, friend of the blog, sent me the link to this video, I figured today’s off-day would be the perfect time to post it. It has nothing to do with anything Yankees (well, except that Doc Ellis was briefly in pinstripes). Mostly, I was in the mood for a break. Last night’s win against the Dodgers was exhausting. Plus I’m not interested in trying to guess how swollen Brett Gardner’s arm/wrist is or whether he or Nick Swisher will make the All Star team. So here’s the blog – a tribute to the Pirates pitcher who claimed he threw a no-hitter while he was high on LSD. As I said, it’s apropos of nothing, but makes me laugh nevertheless. For those who’ve never seen it, enjoy and back to business tomorrow.

Good Day in Yankeeville

Not only was Cervelli cleared to play baseball after his trip to the neurologist, but the Yankees won both games of their twin bill.
bill.jpg
bill.jpg
Well, OK. So it was really a split squad.
split_pyramid.jpg
The point is they won the home game against the Phillies behind a nice couple of innings by Vazquez (a solo homer but four strikeouts) and the continued hot hitting by Cano (2-for-3 with a walk). And they shut out the Pirates in Bradenton with Aceves’ four scoreless innings, making him a worthy contender for the #5 spot in the rotation. Right now, here’s how I’d stack up the vying candidates:
Hughes
Aceves
Mitre
Gaudin
Joba
It’s still very early in the competition, but that’s the order I’d go with. In reliever news, I had to laugh when Chan Ho Park was asked by reporters about having a sore butt (aka gluteus muscle).
glut.jpg
“Is this big news?” he asked. Yes, Chan Ho. Everything having to do with the New York Yankees is big news, so you’d better get used to it.
Mo’s been scheduled to pitch in his first game, and it’s the home game I’m going to: March 16th versus the Astros. Very excited that I’ll be able to see His Majesty in person.
Back to Vazquez, he seemed very relaxed in his post-game remarks to the media today. He was asked about the difference between this time around with the Yanks and his 2004 stint, and he said, “Better atmosphere than the last time. Looser clubhouse. Looser guys.” Let’s hope the “better atmosphere” translates into “better pitching.”
Counting down until I leave on Friday for Florida. Yankeeville, here I come. Does anyone have any messages for the team? I’d be happy to deliver them.
Update: I spoke too soon. It wasn’t a perfect day in Yankeeville. Not after I read this. Oy.

A Day Of Firsts At Steinbrenner Field

steinbrenner.field.jpg
The 2010 Yankees got off to a sweet start, didn’t they?
* Impressive pitching by Gaudin, Mitre and Aceves.
* Nice catches in the wind by Hoffman and Gardner.
* Great seeing the Bombers again, period.
As with most early spring training games, there was sloppy play. And it’s hard to get a rhythm going when everybody’s being shuffled in and out like a game of musical chairs.
musical_chairs.jpg
But there were a few firsts that signaled a good omen for the season.
* A-Rod got the Yankees’ first hit of the spring.
* Pena smacked the Yankees’ first homer.
* Colin Curtis broke the 3-3 tie in the 9th with his three-run walkoff homer, enabling the Yanks to beat the Pirates 6-3. There was no pie, sadly.
Colin Curtis? Who’s he?
I would never have been able to pick him out of a police lineup, but he certainly got my attention today.
colin.bio.jpg
He’s got a level lefty swing – almost Matsui-like – and he’s supposed to be a decent outfielder. Will he nudge Winn/Thames/Hoffman/Gardner aside any time soon? I highly doubt it; he’ll end up back in Scranton. But watch this video and tell me he’s not a terrific kid. He has a new fan in me, that’s for sure.

On the Eve of Spring Training Game #1…

I thought it would be fun to put myself in a Yankees frame of mind with a little mood food. Not that I wasn’t jazzed before I watched this video or that Girardi’s team building trip to the arcade wasn’t worth writing about (sort of). I just needed something really Yankee-ish to look at – something that reminded me why I love this team, its history and all the pleasures it’s brought me. Yes, the video’s long and it’s been around awhile. And Yankee haters should avert their gaze or they’ll turn to salt. But for those who’ve got the time, watch and enjoy…and let’s discuss.
* I loved how the video moved so easily from black-and-white to color.
* I noticed for the first time how Babe Ruth’s lefty swing wasn’t all that different from Ichiro’s, the way he moves toward first base as he swings.
* I forgot how huge Lou Gehrig was – a cement block.
* I didn’t really need the audio when it’s introduced in the modern clips; there was something pure and simple about the old days when the footage spoke for itself.
* Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter. Think about it, people. He didn’t have a right hand.
* When Jeter dives into the stands, it still makes me go, “No! Don’t hurt yourself!”
* The players of yesterday really aren’t that different from today’s; they all love the game.
Good luck tomorrow against the Pirates, Yankees. I’ll be watching.

“I Was Out Of Whack All Day”


aj.portrait.jpg

That’s what A.J. told the media after giving up seven runs, six earned, over four-plus innings against the Pirates. The Yankees went on to win 9-8, but Burnett said his mechanics were off.
My mechanics were off too, since it’s Sunday, but I didn’t fall apart.
car-mechanics.jpg
(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
Here’s my point. I understand that pitchers sometimes feel out of whack, but isn’t there anything that can be done to get them back in whack? During the game? Isn’t that what pitching coaches are for? To trot out to the mound and say, “Your shoulder is flying open” or “You need to slow it down” or “I heard there’s a great buffet at the Hyatt tonight?” Why can’t pitchers get back in whack while they’re pitching?
Here’s some video of A.J. warming up before a spring training game last year. I couldn’t throw a ball 90 mph to save my life, so I’m no expert. But does it look that hard to stay in whack?
All I know is that I was feeling out of whack earlier today. But then I read that the Yankees have decided to crown Brett Gardner as the starting center fielder. The news reminded me of another Yankees outfielder who once wore a crown, and suddenly I was right back in whack.
babe.crown.jpg
Joe Girardi explained: “Melky played very well, but we’re just going to go with Gardy.” 
Gardy. Isn’t that the nickname for this guy?
Gardenhire.jpg
Is baseball ready for two Gardys? I am. Nothing against Melky, but I love watching Gardy run the bases. If he can hit with any consistency, the Yankees will have a huge weapon.
As for Melky, I guess he’ll be dealt or kept on as an extra outfielder/bench player/defensive replacement in late innings. I already said my mental goodbye to him when I thought he was being shipped to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron, so I’m good with whatever happens, unlike this woman.
tears.jpg
On a happier note, Xavier Nady is French. Why does that make me happy? Because it means he’ll understand it when I say, “Je t’aime.”
Here’s an excerpt from the NJ.com interview in which he explains his heritage. (Hat tip to Sliding Home.)
nady.jpg
You’re Xavier Nady VI, your son is Xavier Nady VII. Is there a story behind your name and how it has been passed down through the years?

“I’m French, so St. Francis Xavier. That’s how the name started. In the mid-1800s, the first Xavier came over from France and settled in over here in, I think, the Midwest. Since then, I think we’ve been very fortunate to keep the name alive, to keep it going. Hopefully No. 7 will have an opportunity one day to pass it on.”

***

Sounds like the X-Man is following in the tradition of Manny Ramirez, who has two sons named Manny Ramirez, and of George Foreman, who has five sons named George Foreman.

But wait! Bringing this post full circle, it turns out that Melky Cabrera has a son named Melky Cabrera and A.J. Burnett has a son named A.J. Burnett.

Clearly, professional athletes don’t have much imagination.

The Yankees/Team USA/The Yankees/Team USA….Help!

With the Yankees in action against the Pirates at the very same time that Team USA was facing elimination against Puerto Rico, I felt compelled to follow both games and, as a result, developed a severe case of split personality.

split-personality.jpg
Part of me was my usual Yankee-centric self, caring only about the game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Why shouldn’t I? There was a lot at stake.
Like would CC rebound from his awful outing?
Would Mo throw strikes in his spring training debut?
Would Posada be able to catch without his arm falling off?
armfalloff.jpg
There were more plot twists than on this.
yr-logo.jpg
Luckily, all was well in Yankeeville as the Bombers beat the Pirates 9-2.
CC went four solid innings, only giving up a run while striking out seven. Sweet.
cc-sabathia306.jpg
Mo threw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two. Really sweet.
mo_si.jpg
Jorge’s arm didn’t fall off, and he seemed happy about that.
jorge.jpg
With the victory sealed, I turned my attention to the goings-on in Miami. As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of the WBC. I think the tournament should be played in December or January, when it wouldn’t conflict with spring training and would provide welcome entertainment for those of us who are starving for baseball at that time of year. But whatever. Team USA was down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth, about to be booted out of the tourney. Up to the plate stepped David Wright.
DAVID-WRIGHT-WORLD-BASEBALL-CLASSIC.jpg
He may be a Met, but I was rooting for him to do something, anything, to keep Team USA’s hopes alive, even if he does stick out his tongue when he swings the bat.
albert-einstein.jpg
I yelled at the TV. “WRIGHT, GET A HIT!”
And he did. He went down and got a pitch that was out of the strike zone and golfed it into right for a walk-off single. Game over. Group hug. Everybody pile on.
I yelled at the TV again. “JETER, DON’T JUMP INTO THE PILE OR YOU MIGHT STRAIN AN OBLIQUE!”
Yes, my split personality defaulted right back to the Yankees, and my main concern was my Captain.
I yelled at the TV some more. “JETER, IF YOU WANT TO HUG PLAYERS SO BADLY, HUG OTHER YANKEES WHEN YOU WIN THE WORLD SERIES THIS FALL!”
My husband walked into the room and asked who I was talking to.
“David Wright and Derek Jeter,” I said with a shrug, as if it was obvious.
He rolled his eyes. “I guess I should worry when you start telling me these guys talk back.”
I didn’t dare mention that in my twisted imagination they already do. And I certainly didn’t tell him about the strange thing I did on a basketball court the other day. Take a look, but please keep it to yourself.

Sending Good Thoughts to an Ex-Yankee

doug.bat.jpg
I’m a big fan of Doug Mientkiewicz – so big that I finally learned how to spell his name. 
He played a stellar first base when he was with the Yankees in 2007. He missed a chunk of the season following a collision with Mike Lowell at Fenway, but he came back strong in September and was one of the reasons the Yankees squeaked into the playoffs.
doug.torre.jpg
Maybe you remember him with the Twins, where he began his pro career.
doug.twins.jpg
Or with the Red Sox, where he won the championship in ’04 and ignited some controversy after making the final out.

doug.sox.jpg

 He was with the Mets in ’05, although it was an injury-plagued season for him.
doug.mets.jpg
He moved to KC in ’06 for a stint with the Royals
doug.royals.jpg
before joining the Yanks and flashing some leather. (Loved the crouch, loved his hustle, loved that he always got his uniform dirty.)
doug.first.jpg
When I was writing my book, Doug was candid and helpful and an all-around nice guy. I was hoping Cashman would bring him back in ’08, but the Yankees went with a parade of defensive replacements for Giambi that included Wilson Betemit, Shelley Duncan, Morgan Ensberg, Richie Sexson and Cody Ransom (not to mention Damon and Posada).
Instead, he signed with the Pirates and provided a stable, veteran presence in Pittsburgh.
doug.pirates.jpg
In August, he received a phone call with terrible news: His wife Jodi – his college sweetheart and the mother of their young son – had collapsed. Jodi needed heart surgery and a pacemaker, and Doug went on bereavement leave so he could be by her side.
J_Mient2.jpg
I spoke to Doug today. He said that Jodi had to undergo another operation but is doing okay. He also said that he’s had an outpouring of support from friends, players, even Joe Girardi.
“I don’t know him from Adam, but he took the time to call.”
Speaks well of Girardi, don’t you think?
I asked Doug, a free agent, if he’s had any job offers. He hinted that he’d love to play for his old manager out here on the west coast.
torre.dodgers.jpg
Will it happen? He said he usually gets signed in January when clubs start looking for backup. Here’s wishing him and Jodi a Happy and Healthy New Year.

The Yankees Go Spanning the Globe

Not to be outdone by either the Red Sox, who appear to have signed Japanese pitcher Junich Tazawa (even though he is an amateur), or by the Pirates, who have inked deals with Indian pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel (even though neither youngster had ever heard of baseball), the Yankees have taken a major dive into the world’s untapped talent pool.

dive.jpg
“We can’t sit back and wait for Sabathia to make up his mind,” Yankees Control Person Hal Steinbrenner told She-Fan during a late evening meeting over cocktails. “What’s more, it wouldn’t be prudent for us to pay what Boras is asking for Teixeira. And we’re certainly not throwing money at Pettitte, Abreu and Giambi, although they will always be part of the Yankees family.”
“Then which players are you planning to put on the field on Opening Day?” I asked with a healthy dose of skepticism. I do love Hal, but he’s still pretty new to the job.
That’s when he began singing – right out of the blue, his voice an oddly familiar falsetto.
“We are the world. We are the children.”
michael_jackson2.jpg
Yes, that’s who he sounded like. “Why that song?” I asked. 
He motioned me closer and whispered, “This is very confidential, so please don’t blog about it. We’re replacing our expensive players with amateurs from the far corners of the world.”
shocked-woman_~AA039975.jpg
Well, I was shocked, of course. This was the Yankees we were talking about.
Hal revealed the names of our Opening Day lineup, which I will now pass along to you. I know, I know. I told him I would keep his secret. I hope he will forgive me.
Without further ado, here are the new Yankees.
From the Netherlands….batting first and playing shortstop: Percy Isenia, a member of the Olympic baseball team. He’ll have to lose the facial hair, naturally.
netherlands.jpg
From Thailand….batting second and playing left field: Ek Boonsawad, a champion sailor.
thai.jpg
From Hungary…batting third and playing right field: Zsolt Nemcsik, who excels at fencing. On guard! Touche!
hungary.jpg
From Croatia…batting cleanup and catching: Blazenko Lackovic, a burly handballer.
croatia.jpg
From Iceland…batting fifth and DH-ing: Sigfus Sigurdsson, an even burlier handballer.
iceland.jpg
From Cameroon…batting sixth and playing third base: Joslain Mayebi, a goalkeeper or something like that.
cameroon.jpg
From Denmark….batting seventh and playing center field: Jonas Rasmussen, who is good at badminton and can, therefore, handle a shuttlecock if need be.
denmark.jpg
From Switzerland…batting eighth and playing first base: Niklaus Schurtenberger, an equestrian jumper who goes by the nickname “Baldy.”
swiss.jpg
From Luxembourg…batting ninth and playing second base: Marc Schmit, another sailor. He’s got a little Nick Swisher in him, doesn’t he?
luxembourg.jpg
And from Latvia…pitching: Aleksandrs Samoilovs, who plays beach volleyball and will have to replace the smile with a snarl if he wants to succeed in the Bigs.
latvia.jpg
No marquee names. Not even any names I (or Bob Sheppard) will be able to pronounce. And how will the Bleacher Creatures come up with chants for these guys?
Still, Hal’s strategy is bold, I’ll give him that. 
“I only foresee one problem,” I told him as he was getting ready to catch his flight back to Tampa. “Too many translators in the clubhouse.”
He smiled. “Haven’t you seen the pictures of the new Stadium? The clubhouse is huge.”
“Right. Have a safe trip.”
I miss A-Rod already. I even miss Swish.