What, Exactly, Is a “Performance Bonus?”
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.
Sunny Days Will Be Here Again: A Happy Post
Since we’re all feeling a little impatient/perplexed/downright angry about the Yankees’ off-season thus far, I figured I’d lighten the mood with a bulletin: It’s almost spring training, which means it’s almost Opening Day. I know, I know. I’m not the only one with a calendar, but I just might be one of the only ones with a preview of the new Yankee Stadium E-Guide, which is the fantastic creation of Kurt Smith as part of his BallparkE-Guides series.
Each e-guide is a detailed, PDF-formatted booklet that takes us through our favorite parks in a way that teams’ official programs and web sites don’t. For example, at Yankee Stadium you can’t get back into the ballpark once you leave, right? Wrong. Thanks to a tip in the Yankee Stadium E-Guide, I learned that if you enter via the Hard Rock Cafe and have your ticket punched there, you can come and go as often as you want. The E-Guide has insider info about buying tickets, paying less for tickets, figuring out what and where the best food is, not to mention getting to the Bronx without stress. It’s all here and it’s only five bucks, downloadable from Kurt’s site. I’ll definitely consult the Yankee Stadium E-Guide before my next visit to the Stadium.
Speaking of which, I predict that the Yanks will, indeed, end up signing Rafael Soriano.
Why? Because there’s precedent for bringing in a proven closer as our setup guy. Does the name Tom Gordon ring a bell? He worked out pretty well setting up for Mo even though he’d been a closer for the Red Sox. Despite Cashman’s comments about staying “in-house” for the eighth inning and trying to avoid an expensive LaTroy Hawkins/Kyle Farnsworth-type flop, Soriano is no Hawkins/Farnsworth. He’d fit the bill just fine.
Now We Know: We’re Going To Arlington
But where, exactly, IS Arlington? Yes, I’m aware that it’s in Texas, but where? I figured I’d better check since our boys will be flying there.
OK, so it’s not in the Panhandle. And it’s not near the Mexican border. It’s not even in the vicinity of Austin or Houston or El Paso. It’s kind of close to Texarkana, which is an actual place not a country-and-western song, and is, therefore, practically in Arkansas, home of Cliff Lee, as well as A.J. and Moseley. What’s it like in Arlington? According to Wikipedia…
Arlington is a city in Tarrant County, Texas within the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, the seventh-largest city in Texas and the 49th largest city in the United States.
OK, so it’s not that small, and our Yankees will find plenty of places where they can amuse themselves.
Located approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of downtown Fort Worth and 20 miles (32 km) west of downtown Dallas, Arlington is home to the Texas Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington, Cowboys Stadium, the International Bowling Campus (which houses the United States Bowling Congress, International Bowling Museum and the International Bowling Hall of Fame), the headquarters for American Mensa, and the theme parks Six Flags Over Texas (the original Six Flags).
Cool. They can go bowling if they need to get away from it all, not to mention hop on a roller coaster.
According to the American Lung Association, Dallas has the 12th highest air pollution among U.S. cities. Much of the air pollution in Dallas and the surrounding area comes from a hazardous materials incineration plant in the small town of Midlothian and from concrete installations in neighbouring Ellis County.
Uh-oh. So they won’t be able to breathe. And the last thing CC needs before he makes his start on Friday night is to be exposed to hazardous materials. He’ll have enough trouble staying away from the BBQ joints. But the real hazard, as far as I’m concerned, is Lee and we don’t have to worry about him for awhile. I was hoping we’d play the Rays and we’re not. So we’ll have to get used to the following:
* Relentless close-ups of Nolan Ryan.
* Vlad Guerrero swinging at balls on the ground, in the air, off the top of his head.
* Replays of Josh Hamilton winning the Home Run Derby.
* Neftali Feliz’s “cheddar,” as David Wells and Dennis Eckersley dubbed his fastball.
The Rangers are an excellent team and I congratulate them for winning their series. But just like the highly anticipated new FOX show “Lone Star,” they should prepare to be cancelled after just a few episodes.
P.S. Now that our opponent is known, it’s a good time to enter the Crumbs cupcakes contest or amend your predictions. Click here for details. The deadline for entering is Thursday at midnight, PT.
Who Wants Cupcakes?
Actually, I should have said, “Who doesn’t want cupcakes?” Yankees cupcakes, that is. Courtesy of the talented folks at Crumbs Bake Shop.
To celebrate the Bombers and their march into the ALCS, Crumbs has created a brand new Yankees cupcake that will go on sale Monday in all 13 of their New York locations. It features vanilla cake, vanilla cream cheese frosting, and Yankees blue and white sprinkles with the NYY logo on top. Is it to die for or what?
If you live in NYC, you can walk into a Crumbs store and buy the cupcakes OR you can enter this blog’s exclusive contest and win a gift certificate for a signature size six-pack of these delicious treats. Yes, I said six of them! There will only be one winner and the gift certificate will be valid until 12/31/10. What do you have to do to win? Be the first commenter with the correct answers to the all of the following six questions:
1) Which team will win the ALCS?
2) How many games will the ALCS go?
3) Who will be the ALCS MVP?
4) Will a manager or player get ejected during the ALCS?
5) How many appearances will Mo make?
6) Will the Good A.J. show up?
I know, I know. We have no idea whether our rivals will be the Rays or the Rangers. Not until Tuesday. That’s why you can either wait to enter the contest until after that series is decided OR enter now OR change your mind after your first try and enter more than once. Just keep in mind that the lucky winner will be the first person (by their time stamp) who leaves the comment with the correct answer to all six questions. All entries must be left here by Thursday night, the eve of Game 1, by midnight Pacific Time, and the winner will be crowned and cupcaked once the series is over. Got it? I’ll post a reminder each day until we close the contest on Thursday, but in the meantime may the best prognosticator win!
#1 I see from some of the comments that I neglected to mention: CRUMBS SHIPS! If you win, you’ll be getting a gift certificate for the six cupcakes and Crumbs will send them to you wherever you are. My bad for not explaining that. This is not just a New York contest.
#2) The A.J. question means: Will the Good A.J. show up to pitch, not just to throw pie in someone’s face!
Yanks Lose Nightcap In Embarrassing Fashion
I was blacked out by Fox for today’s first game, so I listened to it on my phone while I ran around doing errands. I was so excited when we won that I nearly drove off the road. If we win the second game, I thought, we’ll be in great shape to take the division.
I couldn’t watch Game 2 live because I was at the performance of my friend John Lengfelder’s new movie. (It’s called “Blind Date” and it was interactive in the sense that the audience gets to vote on what happens in the actual story; go to http://www.BlindDateInteractive.com if you’re interested.) But I saw the replay. I wish I hadn’t. Four errors? The Yankees committed four errors? I realize that Berkman is no Tex and Cervelli is no Posada, but AJ standing there staring at the first base ump while the run scored? Hello? I understand why he was surprised by the “safe” call, but where was his head as A-Rod yelled at him to pay attention to the runner. When the camera panned over to Girardi in that fourth inning, you could see Joe hang his head in disgust. I did the same thing.
We had a great chance to control our own destiny in the final weekend of the regular season. Instead, we’re stuck hoping the Rays lose. Not a good way to end a very long journey into night.
Is Mother Nature A Yankee Fan?
You could argue that she is, given that all the Yankees had to do to take over first place was sit there in the visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway playing video games, while the Rays lost to the Royals. Nicely done, Mother Nature.
On the other hand, Saturday is going to be a bear. Will the regulars play in both games? Unlikely. Especially not the vets. So this series suddenly has a higher degree of difficulty and we could be looking at the Wild Card for real. Unless…the Rays are defeated by the Royals yet again. Is it possible? I didn’t think they’d lose tonight, but they did and we have this man to thank.
Farewell, Javy. Thanks for the Memories.
I don’t know if tonight was the last time we’ll see Vazquez in pinstripes, but I’d be willing to bet it is. It wasn’t his fault that he was a home run derby server-upper against the Blue Jays. That’s who he is. That’s what he does. That’s the way things started out for him this year and that’s the way they’ve ended up. No surprises. I wish him well in his return to the National League, where he will inevitably become a 20-game winner next season. Bye bye, Javy.
What I don’t understand is why Girardi used all the regulars in this game but didn’t let Andy pitch. I know, he wanted him “lined up” for the playoffs, but still. You either want to win the division or you don’t. And with the Rays losing to the O’s, tonight was one big wasted opportunity to climb back on top. But hey. At least A-Rod notched his 30th homer and 100th RBI yet again – no small feat for a guy who spent all that time on the DL and was supposed to have had a down year. Congrats, Alex. But please don’t cool off any time soon.
Not much else to say about the game except that I didn’t mind getting stuck with the Toronto feed on TV. The fans gave Cito Gaston a really nice sendoff, and he deserved it. I always liked him as a manager and I appreciated how gracious he was about having the Yankees at his going away party. So there were two farewells tonight. Bye bye, Cito.
There Was Only One Thing To Do After This One
Getting into the postseason is no small feat, and, like the Yankees, I decided not to let the occasion go by with merely a “Yay.” After watching the players douse each other in the visitors clubhouse at the Rogers Centre (I don’t get the post-game show here, so I had to wait for the party clips on the YES web site), Michael covered the shower wall with plastic so it would look “authentic” (a Hefty garbage bag like last year), escorted me inside, dumped champagne on my head and handed me the rest of the bottle. It wasn’t the good stuff and tasted like stale beer, but the sentiment was there even if I did end up looking like Alice Cooper. Woohoo, Yankeeeeeeees!
CC was The Man. He gave the team innings. He gave them effectiveness. He gave them the confidence to score runs. (Loved all the sac flies.) He gave them a true ace. And Mo. Well. Of course he wrapped it up. I know the division title is still up for grabs, but just knowing for sure that we’ll be watching October baseball is a thrill that never gets old. I thought back to 2007 when I was following the Yanks around the country for the She-Fan book. We were in Tampa, at the Trop, when they clinched their Wild Card berth and the Post’s Charles Wenzelberg promised he’d bring me back a champagne cork from the party. True to his word, he brought me the cork when we were in Cleveland for the ALDS. I still have it.
I keep it with my jewelry. To me, having a memento from a Yankees celebration is more valuable than diamonds or pearls.
I’m Sorry; This Entire Post Is A Rant About A.J. Burnett
When I saw this picture, I couldn’t help thinking of another character altogether.
But the image that sticks in my mind is the one of him walking off the mound after Joe pulled him tonight.
He’s kind of smirking, kind of scowling, kind of nutty – sort of like Tony Perkins in “Psycho.”
But then I lit on the shot from the “It Is High” blog, and that did it. I started cracking up, and tonight’s miserable game became just a bad joke. Their caption is entitled…”A.J. Brunette.”
He’s cute, isn’t he?
OK, enough about the photos and onto AJ’s “performance.” He had nothing. I mean nothing. The Jays can hit the ball, no question, but did every pitch have to be right in their happy zone? What the hell is wrong with Burnett? Is it just a confidence thing at this point? Because I thought he and Dave Eiland had worked it out, talked it out, hugged it out, whatever it is they do, and yet the result has been awful. I get why he needs to stay in the rotation; he did pitch well in the playoffs last year and Ivan Nova isn’t ready for prime time. But his 2010 has been abysmal, and it’s hard to understand why. Yes, I know. The Rays lost. So what? This isn’t about other teams. It’s about the fact that we need starters. Now. When I saw that Roy Halladay clinched tonight for the Phillies, I turned green with envy. He was the one I wanted all along. People said, “Oh, we don’t need him. We already have an ace.” True, but what would have been the problem with having two aces?
I’d better stop now before I explode.
Yanks-Rays Round 4: Back Where We Started
Yes, we ended up with a split. And there was nothing pretty or sweet about it. How many times have we watched CC disintegrate? Hardly ever, that’s how many times. And yet he looked vulnerable through the fifth inning and positively horrendous in the sixth – like a great big parade float that was punctured and fell to the ground.
Still, I give him a pass. He’s been terrific, so he’s entitled to a bad game even if it did cost him the Cy Young award. And David Price is a really, really good pitcher. Still, how to explain the Yankees inability to score with the bases loaded – more than once? That was more troubling to me, as was Joba’s ineffectiveness and the fact that Vazquez couldn’t find home plate if he had a shovel.
Did he hit three batters in a row or did I dream it? Never mind. I know the answer. If he had plans for the postseason, he can probably forget about them and schedule a nice, long vacation for himself. Will the Yankees win the division now that they’re basically tied with the Rays again? Tampa has some comfy match ups, while we’re stuck with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. I have no idea what will happen from here on – none. Maybe I should consult the tarot card reader I spoke to last year, but I’ve been afraid to. What if she tells me something I don’t want to hear? Couldn’t handle it.
Changing the subject, did everybody see the ESPN Steinbrenner documentary directed by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple? I missed its premiere on Tuesday night, but watched it after the game tonight. As some may remember, I flew to New York last year to be interviewed for the doc.
I met Barbara too, and it turned out we both grew up in Scarsdale loving the Yankees.
Here’s the bad news: I ended up on the cutting room floor of the doc. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t in it and wasn’t surprised. Barbara shot a ton of film, interviewed hundreds of people and only had an hour of air time. The focus turned out to be the transition from the old Stadium and George’s running the team to the new Stadium and Hal’s ascendance, and I don’t think I said anything particularly interesting about any of that. I really enjoyed the film, especially the interview with Hal. Here’s a clip. It requires sitting through Pujols hawking Dove soap, but it’s worth a look.
Getting back to the present, I’m nervous about the Red Sox series this weekend. Not because it’s the Red Sox but because we just need to win games right now. Need to win games. Right now. Please.