Tagged: Twins

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.
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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

Bats

Keep up with the latest news on The Times’s baseball blog.

Major League Baseball

Yankees

Mets

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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Yanks-Twins Game 2: The Texas Two Step

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What a job by Andy and Lance, the former teammates.
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All I kept hearing from the TBS guys was: “Will Andy be the Playoff Andy or the Injured Andy?” It was making me crazy, but then everything they said made me crazy. The point is, Andy was the same amazing pitcher he’s always been – making the pitches he needed to make, giving us innings, setting the tone. You could just tell that the players felt confident behind him. And I felt confident after his shaky first inning; apparently, he and Dave Eiland went into the clubhouse between innings and looked at video. Whatever flaw they spotted was clearly corrected because he was great from then on. And how about Fat Elvis? Talk about rising to the occasion. Those were some big hits he delivered tonight. But then just about everybody seemed to contribute in some way. Swisher made a nice catch in right. Grandy continued his hot hitting. Posada had an awesome at bat and drew a leadoff walk, then scored. Gardner is the fastest living organism.
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Are we still leaving runners on base? Unfortunately. Is A-Rod striking out more in this series than he did last year? So far. But you can’t have everything. Kerry Wood pitched a swell eighth and Mo took care of the ninth. The Yankees are poised to return to the Bronx and finish off the Twins, but that’ll mean passing the baton to Huuuughes. 
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I’d like to say we’ll sweep, but I’m way too superstitious – and cautious. The Twins are a good team and they’re not going to just roll over.
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I sure wish I could be at the Stadium on Saturday, but I know some of you will be there and that’s comforting. I’ll be at the wedding of my friend’s daughter, and I’ve been freaking out that I’ll miss part of the game. But today I got the good news that they’ll probably cut the cake by 5 o’clock PT, so I’ll be home in time for the first pitch! Here’s to a fast cake cutting!
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And speaking of cake, I just might have a really, really, really (that’s three “really’s”) cool contest coming up involving dessert. So stay tuned.

Yanks-Twins Game 1: Sheer Joy

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If only this little cheerleader could be wearing Yankees blue. Oh, well. You get the idea, which is that I’m really, really excited right now. Mo just saved the game and the Yanks came from behind to torture the Twins yet again. What a nail biter.
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CC didn’t have his best stuff, but it didn’t matter; the offense picked him up. Grandy rewarded Joe’s faith in him, Tex went deep, Cano had a big RBI, lalalala. The next thing I knew we were erasing Minny’s lead – twice – and winning the ballgame. The only controversy was the Golson catch – and it was a catch, as the replay clearly showed. Why bother to have an extra outfield ump or two if they all miss the call? Oh well. I can afford to be charitable about it, since there was no harm done. 
In other news, I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Doc Halladay for the no-hitter. He’s an amazing pitcher. I’ll never stop wishing he were a Yankee, but what a thrill for Phillies fans.
Back to our game, the victory sure does make me feel better about tomorrow night. I assume Mo won’t be available for Game 2, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I just hope Andy feels dandy and pitches like it.

Off-Day Memories

With all the questions swirling around the Yankees right now, I thought we needed a reminder that we not only can beat the Twins….we did beat the Twins. Yes, it was last year and the cast of characters has changed a little bit since then. But mostly it’ll be the old familiar faces, so why not reminisce?
I don’t know about you, but I plan on visualizing this celebration as I anticipate this series. It sure beats reading all the articles about how we’re supposed to crumble at the sight of Carl Pavano. I mean seriously.
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Good News/Bad News Sunday

The Good News was the return of Andy. If I could have hugged him, I would have.
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He not only pitched well but went six innings. Now there are no more “What’ll we do without Pettitte” thoughts setting off panic in my brain. The Bad News was the Yankees’ inability to score with men on base – not with a man on third and nobody out, not with bases loaded, not with an opposing pitcher who had a tendency to walk batters. What happened to the sac fly? Is it not in this team’s arsenal? If I sound grumpy it’s because I was seriously frustrated by this game.
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Then more Bad News: a blown save by Mo. Cue the people who will start saying, “He’s not the same. He’s done. He should retire.” Please. I don’t want to hear it. As a matter of fact, I’m mad at Mike Mussina right now. Yeah, Mussina. I finally caved in and bought the paperback of Joe Torre/Tom Verducci’s “The Yankee Years” for my flight home from the east coast. I was reading it last night when I came upon Moose’s quotes after the ’04 loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Here’s what he had to say about Mo:
“We were up 3-0 and Mo came in again with the lead and lost it. He lost it again. As great as he is, and it’s amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation again since I got here, he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before. He blew the World Series in ’01. He lost the Boston series….I know you look at everything he’s done and it’s been awesome, I’ll admit that. But it hasn’t been the same.”
Excuse me? Mo has accomplished nothing? He lost the Boston series – like all by himself? I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about Mike Mussina again. Even if he had those thoughts, how could he make them public and trash his teammate – the same teammate who’s been picking up starting pitchers for years? I don’t get it.
Sorry for the digression. Anyhow, the Yankees lost today, but the Good News is they won the series and, with loses by Tampa and Minny, don’t give up ground.
Speaking of Joe Torre, I read that he and Mattingly are coming to the Stadium Monday night for the unveiling of Steinbrenner’s monument in Monument Park. I know Donnie will get a huge ovation and I hope Torre will too. He deserves it. I’m having trouble with what he says in his book about his players, but there’s no getting around the championship years and his relationships with the Core Four. It’s Good News that the big chill appears to be over between him and the organization.
And finally, I went to see “The Town” today, the new movie directed by and starring Red Sox super-fan Ben Affleck. (Yes, there’s stuff at Fenway.) I absolutely loved it. This is a heist film that goes beyond the car chases and shoot ’em ups. It’s great entertainment and I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer.
Apparently, MLB wasn’t wild about letting Affleck shoot his scenes at Fenway, given the R-rated material. But here’s what the New York Times said on the subject:
For the finale, the production spent 11 days in and around Fenway Park, but only after Major League Baseball was cajoled into putting aside its usual reluctance to cooperate with a film that is rated R, this time for violence, language, sexuality and drug use.

Good for MLB and Good News for movie lovers. Go see this one.