Tagged: Wilson Betemit

I Admit It: I’m A Total Swisher Convert

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When Cashman first traded for Nick Swisher, my reaction was: “WHY?” He was batting like .211, was supposed to be our first baseman and sometime outfielder and was not particularly proficient at either position, and he had the look and demeanor of a non-Yankee.
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I figured I’d get tired of his clownish act and, in spite of the fact that I wouldn’t miss Wilson Betemit, I kept questioning Cashman’s wisdom in making the trade. But then we got Tex, so Swisher wouldn’t be playing first base after all and giving me nightmares of Giambi. And then he kept having impressive at bats, working counts, hitting with power. And when he pitched that game at the Trop and seemed to take such joy from being able to help out the pen, I could see what a good teammate he was.
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When he came to spring training this year in such great shape, determined to boost his average and be more serious about his work, I was doubly impressed. It’s not everyday that a player actually tries to grow and change, and Swisher has done that. As we anticipate the series in Baltimore this weekend, it’s Swisher who hits so well at Camden Yards, Swisher whose bat I want in the lineup in the #2 spot, Swisher who gives us a credible right fielder, Swisher whose injury needs to heal – and fast. (I’m really hoping the cortisone shot did its thing).
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As I said at the top, I never expected to like him as much as I do – or count on him for the Yankees’ success. But it happened. I’m in his corner. I have his back.
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Or is this all about how much I don’t like Austin Kearns?
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Tonight’s Game: Weird But Entertaining

Q: How often does CC get pounded with singles?
A: Hardly ever.

Q: How many times has Jeter hit an inside-the-parker?
A: Only once before.

Q: Did I expect to see Wilson Betemit be a candidate for “Player of the Game?”
A: Not in my lifetime.

Q: Did Posada make two bonehead throws tonight?
A: Uh-huh.

Q: Did Dave Robertson perform another Houdini act?
A: He did.

Q: Did Joba load the bases and give fans another heart attack?
A: He did.

Q: Did the Yankees score 10 runs for the second day in a row?
A: They did.

Q: Did A-Rod inch closer to #600?
A: He did.


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Q: Did the umpires make some bizarre calls?
A: What else is new.
I could go on, but the main thing is the Yankees won the series opener against the Royals. And speaking of the umpiring, did anyone see clips from the O’s-Twins game? The hapless O’s got a raw deal on a call at first, and Ty Wigginton went so nuts his manager had to choke him.
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And could someone explain how Carl Pavano and his porn star mustache have 12 wins? And is there any way the Yankees could ask for their money back?

I Love Sweeps

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Last night the formula was CC + A-Rod = Victory. Tonight it was A.J. + Tex/Swisher = Victory. I know people don’t want to make too much of Dave Eiland’s return to the team, but it’s not a coincidence that A.J. has looked like a different pitcher since Eiland came back. He’s gone from God awful and grouchy…
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…to focused and fabulous.
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Sure, A.J.’s defense helped him out tonight (sometimes I just sit there and marvel at the plays Tex makes – I guess I didn’t realize he was that good), but his stuff was nasty and the Oakland hitters were overmatched. Luckily, the Yankees hitters weren’t. They worked Gio’s pitch count up and then pounced. Tex’s three-run shot got things going, but what a night for Swisher. A single, double, homer and a walk? Not too shabby for the All Star candidate. (Did we really get him for Wilson Betemit? I’m still pinching myself.)
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Even Ramiro Pena (I groaned when I saw Cano was out of the lineup – his back better not be all that sore) had a couple of hits. Marte and Joba did their jobs in the eighth and ninth, and that was the ball game. Oh, well there was one other moment that must be mentioned. Somebody ended up being very embarrassed.
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A-Rod overran a pop-up in foul territory and dropped the ball – and himself.
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He went face down onto the field, and it didn’t take long before Jeter was laughing hysterically. After A-Rod got up, the two of them kept cracking up and I couldn’t help smiling too.
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(Thanks to caitlin on Twitter for the screen grab.)
So for those east coasters who missed the game, it was basically more of the same: good pitching, hitting and defense – a pleasure to watch.

Walkoff #12 Beats White Sox, and I Disturb the Peace

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I really should buy myself one of these T-shirts. They come in navy blue and white, which would be ideal for a Yankee fan, and they tell the story of the feisty 2009 team. Just when you think they’re cooked, fried, roasted, done, they mount a miraculous comeback and win the game in walkoff style. Tonight’s 5-2 victory over the White Sox was a perfect example. I mean, Cano? Hello? The guy who’s been struggling with runners in scoring position? He was the hero?
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Yeah, he was, after he hit a three-run homer in the tenth. Naturally, he received the Reddi–Wip treatment.
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It was all so exciting it made me want to shoot some of the stuff at myself.
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It also made me erupt in a ridiculously loud scream that scared my neighbors to death.
But Cano wasn’t the only hero. It takes a whole team to win games. CC was superb, shutting out the White Sox through six. He got into trouble in the seventh, letting the Sox tie it up at 2-2, but it could have been much worse if not for a great throw home by Swisher. Yes, Swisher. Does anybody know what’s up with Wilson Betemit these days?
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I didn’t think so.
A-Rod made a couple of impressive defensive plays too, and the relief pitching was about as good as it gets. Phil Hughes emerged from the remote cave where Girardi has been holding him captive.
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He struck out the side in the eighth. I have no idea why he wasn’t brought back out for the ninth with the score still knotted at 2-2, but Mo was perfecto. That made the tenth a hairy proposition.
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I wasn’t thrilled to see Bruney on the mound, but he pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Up stepped Cano in the bottom of the frame after Matsui and Swisher had walked, and that was that.
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I don’t know what the Yankees will do for an encore on Saturday, weather permitting, but I bet it’ll be worth watching.
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It’s Way More Fun To Sweep Than To Be Swept (Duh)

That nightmare series in Anaheim before the break seems like ages ago. Now, all the Yankees do is win, and every game feels like a party.

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With their second 6-4 victory in a row (after having won three 2-1 games in a row), the Yanks swept the hapless O’s behind an excellent performance by AJ. I really look forward to the days he pitches and I get a kick out of his pie-in-the-face pranks. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m starting to fall for the guy.
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Well, just a little. I mean, he wears a snarl most of the time, but then look at how he gives props to Swisher for making that great catch on Wigginton in the third. So sweet and generous and tattoo-y.
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He could have stood there sulking, because Swisher inexplicably dropped Roberts’ so-what fly ball for an error to lead off the inning.
Speaking of Swisher, he’s an adventure in right field. One minute, he reminds me of this guy.
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The next, he makes run-saving plays like these.
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He even smacked a two-RBI single to put the Yankees up 4-0. I’ll give him this: He’s a whole lot better than the guy Cashman dealt to get him.
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He told Kim Jones after the game that if he were an ice cream, he’d be rocky road.
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Does that mean he knows he’s kind of nutty?
His answer does raise an interesting question: What kind of ice cream would you be? I spent the afternoon pondering this weighty issue (too much time on my hands) and decided I would be vanilla fudge ripple. I have no idea why.
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Berken, the Orioles pitcher, was woeful in the early going, and allowed the Yankees hitters to jump all over him. I thought I’d be seeing an actual blowout. But the offense stranded runners, and it was maddening. For example:
Tex with two on in the 7th: GIDP.
Jeter with bases loaded in the 8th: K.
Still, no complaints. Phil Hughes, who is impossibly great as a reliever, threw yet another scoreless eighth. 
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I was glad to see Bruney in the ninth, considering that he hadn’t pitched since early July, but what is up with him? He strikes out Andino and Roberts, then gives up back-to-back homers to Jones and Markakis? 
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Clearly, he has more work to do. Or is he still hurt and not telling anyone?
The worst part is that Girardi was forced to bring in Mo for the fifth time in six games. He got the save (#510), but he needs some rest now.
Mo? If you’re reading this, there’s an extra bed at my house. I’ll make you dinner, massage your feet, let you have a nice, relaxing evening while the Yankees deal with the A’s. There’s just one thing: You’ll have to watch the games with me. It’ll be fun to laugh together at the various batting stances of your teammates, won’t it?

An Open Letter To “Yankee Faithful” – Stand By Your Man!

This article in today’s Daily News really bothered me. The Yankee fans that were interviewed expressed their wish that Joe Torre could manage the ’09 Yankees; they don’t think Joe Girardi is up to the task.

Memo to them: The torch has been passed.
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Torre had a great run and I was terribly sad to see him go, as I made clear in The New York Times. But he’s gone. He’s with the Dodgers. Cashman and Company picked Girardi over Mattingly (and Pena), and he’s the one who’s been sitting in the manager’s office for a year now. In other words, it’s time to rally around him.
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Did his rookie year go smoothly? No. Were there “issues” right from Day 1? Sure. A few examples:
* Ian Kennedy was supposed to make a start, but it was raining. So Girardi ended up using him in relief. A head-scratcher.
* Girardi seemed to shuffle the lineup almost daily. At first I thought he was being creative. Then I decided he was being disruptive. Players like to show up for a game not having to wonder about their status from day to day. This year he needs to establish a plan and stick to it, barring injuries.
* Speaking of player injuries, Girardi had a very tough time explaining their various ailments to the beat writers, as if he’d be giving away state secrets. His evasiveness came to a head at the end of the season with the mystery surrounding Mo’s shoulder. A testy press conference ensued.
* Cano wasn’t getting it done, and Girardi waited until September to bench him. Hard to fathom.
* Girardi used Wilson Betemit in situations where even I would have been a better option. Seriously. And he had an odd attachment to Kyle Farnsworth, even though the rest of us hid our eyes whenever Farnsy came in to relieve.
* Girardi banned candy and junk food from the clubhouse, and there were rumors that the veteran players thought he was too uptight.
All that said, the man wants to win badly and he’s got a lot of heart.
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He’s not cool and collected like Torre. He doesn’t sit on the bench sipping green tea. He doesn’t even sit – he stands constantly, clenching his jaw and looking like he’s living and dying with every pitch. Nothing laid back about this Joe.
Sometimes he loses it completely.
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But don’t we want our manager to be passionate? Fiery? A risk-taker?
I laugh at those who say, “Girardi would have to be an idiot not to be able to manage the team the Yankees are handing him.”
Really? If the job were so easy, why did Jim Leyland have such a tough time in Detroit last year? He’s arguably one of the best managers in the game. Certainly one of the most experienced.
With all the talk of Girardi’s “short leash” should the Yankees get off to a slow start, I’m standing by my man. He wasn’t necessarily my pick to replace Torre; I vacillated between him and Mattingly. He doesn’t have a provocative bestseller on the shelves. Nobody calls him the “Sinatra of Baseball.” He doesn’t hang out with Billy Crystal. But he’s my manager, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.¬†
What I’m saying is that I plan on us staying together – for the sake of the kids.
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