This past Saturday marked a milestone of the 6 and 1/2 years so far of my motherhood. I took my son to his first Yankee home game. Jack (and I for that matter) had not yet been to the new Yankee Stadium. Another milestone of a different kind was the passing of a dear man, Thomas Flanagan. The two events have, what I think, a poignant connection.
I started taking my son, Jack, to baseball games at an early age. His first game was a Long Island Ducks home game and he was 6 months old. He sat on my father’s lap, watching the game in amazement. The child did not budge his view from the field for 7 innings. He pooped during the 8th inning. A diaper change occupied his B7 and then he promptly returned to the seats to finish out the game. I was amazed. I was hoping this would be something special.
Next test was a big league ballpark. I lived in the Baltimore suburbs at the time, after moving from Baltimore City. I was a frequent visitor to Camden Yards, where I eventually became a season ticket plan holder. I’ll admit I did it mainly to get all the Yankees games and all in all probably attended 30 games every season. I began to take my son soon after his Ducks game. Other mothers thought I was crazy because I took him by myself. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to share my love for the game with a child that looked liked, even at an early age, that he enjoyed it too. And it turns out he really did. Every game we went to, Jack would sit on my lap and watch the game with intensity, muttering “ball” and “bat” every once in a while. This went on for 3 more seasons, until we moved to the Philly area. Then it was just a change of venues to Citizens Bank Park and the various MiLB parks within an hour’s distance. Last year he then told me that he wanted to go to a Yankees game “at Yankee Stadium”. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there last season.
This past Saturday, with tickets in hand, we arrived at the new Yankee Stadium via the D train. Jack had his hat and Matsui jersey on. Even though it was the only game the Yankees lost during their 10 game homestand, it was a wonderful experience. I was happy. My son was happy. I “upgraded” our seats during the potential comback during the 8th and 9th innings. Perfect day at a perfect place. As we were walking out of the stadium to leave we stopped infront of the old staduim. Covered in scaffolding and a boarded up perimeter, it looked ominous. Jack peeked inside, “Mom? Where’d all the seats go?” I told him they were for sale. He then promptly told me to buy one. Yeah, I’ll get on that, kid. He then asked me if I ever went to a game there. I nodded and told him that it was a magical place. He replied “wow”. While sitting on the D train going back to 34th St. station, Jack thanked me at least 20 times for taking him to the Yankee game untll we got there. Mission accomplished.
Last week, the father of my uncle, passed. Tom Flanagan would have been 93 in September. Tom was a wonderful man. He had retired from the FDNY in the 70’s, was an avid golfer, and a die hard Yankee fan. He was a man of stories and his love for the Yankees was evident in them. In his elder years he would sit out on the patio, with his radio tuned into 880am, drinking a can of Amstel, wrapped in a napkin secured by a rubber band, listening to the game. Even though we were not related by blood he was like a grandfather to me, and to Jack. He bought Jack his first Yankee T-shirt, with Johnny Damon’s number on the back. For this past Christmas he gave Jack his first Yankees jersey, Hideki Matsui, Jack’s favorite Yankee. It was hard to tell Jack that “Grandpa Tommy” had died, but I had to. Once I did, Jack’s first response was “can I go with you to say goodbye”? At first I was leary about taking a 6 1/2 year old to a wake. His response, I thought, was rather mature for a child his age so I decided to take him. Today was the wake.
We go into the funeral home. It is filled with FDNY. We made our way through the pockets of people and see that there are large collages of pictures of Grandpa Tommy with various friends and family. Jack saw that he was in 3 of the pictures. He thought that was really neat. One of the pictures was of him and Grandpa Tommy blowing out candles on a birthday cake.
We made our way to the coffin. Jack said “he does look like he’s sleeping”. That what I told him to expect. Luckily it worked. About 10 seconds later Jack then says, looking at Grandpa Tommy, “Thank you for giving me my Matsui jersey”.
Tom Flanagan was a wonderful man. I hope it’s not too late to tell him how much I appreciate him sharing his love with all of us, and sharing his love for the Yankees with Jack.
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a total friggin’ dud. Just like it was in the last series against that ferocious bunny the Boston Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium, and now I’m starting to wonder that even if I built a Trojan Grady Little and had Zim push it up the gates of Fenway, and have Pedro pop out of it, that my efforts would go to sheer waste in scaring the crap out of the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps when CC orders his 27 pizzas for lunch today, he can send a few over to the Sox clubhouse after lacing them with ruffies, you know, as a good will gesture. So far this series has unacceptable to me as a die-hard Yankees fan. You can’t win games with AJ pitching his B game and Wang’s performance; limp like a homeless woman’s hairdo on a humid day.
I’m wondering if this is all a bad dream. Maybe I should go back to sleep and dream about calling Tonya Harding on the phone again, inquiring about her “Nancy Kerrigan style kneecap services”. This time, I don’t want her to take out the Red Sox. I want her to take out Wang so the Yankees have a legitimate reason to put him back on the DL, so he can get some rehab starts in Scranton. I know I’ve been having a lot of Wang angst lately. Totally frustrated; so frustrated that I don’t even want to look at stats. They are moot. I wonder if Wang can be put on the DL for Sax-Knobloch Syndrome. Even when you see amazing middle relief from Hughes and Aceves, it cannot reverse damage done by atrocious starting pitching. But I’m hoping that ONE good outing, from who Yankee fans can now consider their ace, CC Sabathia, will make a huge difference in overall team performance to end this series with a win. The Yankee bats have been very confident over the past month, but in order to uphold that confidence, stellar starting pitching needs to keep the fire going.
I could go on and on about how disgusted I was watching the first two games of this series. I could yell at the tops of my lungs about it. No one’s listening and it would be a huge waste of my energy. I need to save it for doing the laundry and cleaning the house today. Even though this series is against out AL East rival, we as fans, still need to keep in focus the fact that this is a 162 game season. Tonight is game 60. David Cone said it best, “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. I know keeping this focus is hard to do when we live in an instant gratification world. I had to stop my ranting, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture. This is an amazing team. So far, this has been an exciting season. Seasons have ups and down, or speed bumps as some may call them. I refuse to think that the Red Sox are a complete roadblock.
The last game of this 3 game series at Fenway is at 7:10 tonight. Yankees ace, CC Sabathia takes the mound against Brad Penny. Put on your off road tires, people. We’re going to be driving over the bump.
Is Wang really up and at ’em? Analogies and other observations from the past week.
Well, Wang was inserted in the rotation this past Thursday and was lifted by a Melky Cabrera single late in the game for a Yankees win and a no-decision. Quite frankly, his performance was deflating. Was Wang’s coming premature? Most definitely in my eyes. After his long stint on the DL, 13 innings in Scranton, and 6 innings from the bullpen for the pinstripes, I really didn’t have much confidence that he would be able to last in his first start back. Girardi set a pitch count of 75-80 for his return and that lasted only 4 and 2/3 innings. Phil Hughes was reassigned to the bullpen, still leaving starting rotation questions with fans, to make room for Wang. After Friday night’s rainout, the Yankee skipper took a good look at his rotation for the next series after Tampa, against Boston, and rearranged it, avoiding a Wang start against the chowdaheads. I did think to myself though, “hmmm, this kinda shows lack of confidence in Wang”. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is what it is. Girardi seems to have a firm grasp on it. What I really want to see (and hear) is Mike Francesa shut up. Whether that be by tape over his mouth or self combustion, the method is not important. Never in all my years of “fandom” have I had to debate an abundance of starting pitchers. And yes, Joba IS a starting pitcher. According to Nick Swisher the “Jobameter” is pointing to starter. You will not change my mind on that. And according to the seismic meter in Cleveland, Joba does a mean catching belly flop as well. Diving off the mound like he did Monday night against the Indians, made Greg Louganis look inferior to Rodney Dangerfield’s Triple Lindy in Back to School. As to how Joba would look in a Speedo? Yeah, I’m thinking about it.
Last Tuesday’s game saw the return of AJ Burnett. A win with the Yanks destroying the Rangers 12-3. Burnett went 7 innings with 8 strike outs. A beauty of a game.
Andy Pettitte took the mound last Wednesday against Texas. This game saw more walks by the Yanks starting pitcher than a Walk of Dimes benefit. Walks=losses. That’s really all I have to say about that.
Friday night’s game against the Rays was rained out. AGH. I seriously was going through severe baseball withdrawal. I was relegated to watch the O’s get shelled in Oakland. I must say, Giambi’s moustache has taken over that man’s face. I’m wondering if and when he announces his retirement, he’ll be going straight to DVD. Porn that is. If not, perhaps he can rival for a spot in the mustache HOF next to Rollie Fingers. Friday night also saw the Red Sox lose to the Texas Rangers. I love you Julio Lugo. Yanks are back on top of the AL East by half a game. I love being on top.
I’m gearing up for this afternoon’s game against the Rays. Today sees CC Sabathia against the Rays phenom David Price. The two lefties duel at 1:05 this afternoon in the Bronx. The Rays are only one of three teams that the Yankees have a losing record against this season. Sabathia has been on a winning roll as of late. Let’s keep it going CC.
Yeah, Jhonny Peralta, I’m talking to you. You’re not batting a thousand (well 3-4 with being hit by a Phil Hughes fastball gone amok in the first inning) with my love, that’s for sure. Oh, and your friend Carl? He stayed out little too long yesterday. So long in fact, that I was going to call the local Amish church up the road from me, and tell them that one of their members was breaking the rules by not showing up for services on a Sunday. Pavano, you look like the missing Amish link. Just sayin’. I guess my 4 years of living in Pennsylvania, so far, and that cheesy goat beard you have, have my brain on shoo-fly pie. And speaking of flies or whatever winged creatures are flying around Progressive Field, your grounds-crew needs to do something about that, stat. Ok, I’m done with the two of you. Don’t make me speak to you again.
This was a game that the Yankees SHOULD have won. It’s that simple. And as disappointed as I was, it’s going to happen every once in a while. I just wish it would happen for legitimate reasons, not freshman mistakes. This was not a banner game for Brett Gardiner, between misplaying a fly to center, and not running on the signs given to him in the ninth inning to avoid the double play. If Rob Thompson could have held up a cardboard sign, instead of some Three Stooges hand gestures, saying, “Run to second Brett! You can do it!” would that have helped? Hey Mo! Not you, “Mo”. You had nothing to do with this game. Get some confidence Brett. Games like these are not the ones where you sit on first and ponder what could go wrong if you run.
After a shaky start by Hughes, the Yankees bullpen, again, was ineffective with the exception of Wang, who pitched three scoreless innings. Wang was lifted (I know, I know…Wang analogies) for Coke, and Coke replaced by Robertson; both pitchers giving up a walk each, with a sacrifice bunt wedged in the middle to put runners on third and first. In walks off Jhonny Peralta put the icing on the cake with a shot down the third baseline to score the winning run. Could Rodriguez have moved a little faster to snag the shot? Probably not, but it was the walks that put the nail in the coffin. What would have happened if Wang stayed in? I’d love to know the answer. As for Wang, coming back into the rotation? I still think it’s too early. Having him come in the game during the 6th or 7th inning with his sinker against tired opposing player’s eyes, may be the key right now. He still hasn’t been tested enough though. And when he pitched as well as he pitched yesterday, he needs to stay in the game, Joe.
Some good things did happen yesterday though. The Yankees have now gone 17 consecutive games without an error, tying the record set by the Red Sox in 2006. Mark Teixeira has a 13 game hitting streak going into today’s game. Let’s hope his amazing May carries into June with of course more W’s in the win column for the Yankees. Jeter also has a 14 game hitting streak as well.
I have a feeling that Jane Heller’s visit to Cleveland last night will have a positive effect on the Yanks. She gave them a “talking to” over dinner and drinks and let them know what needed to be done. Joba got “the glance”. That in itself should be enough.
Yanks look to take the 4th game of the series tonight at 7:05 in Cleveland. Run, don’t just stay there.
After a Yankees off-day yesterday, I found myself dying to write something, but nothing was jumping out to bite me and make me type. I was running out of Wang analogies and running out of energy, standing on my soapbox fighting for Joba’s place in the rotation. I pondered the idea of roster moves now that Posada’s back. Just wasn’t doing it for me. I even thought writing about the time I stiffed armed the Oriole Bird in the beak because he stole my Yankee hat one night. Don’t even TELL me how mean I was to do that. The Bird had it coming to him. He’s nothing but trouble, that guy. He doesn’t mess with me anymore either. After pondering other various moments that almost got me arrested, or at least “removed” from numerous ballgames and ballparks, I began to think back to my first Yankee game, September 23rd, 1983, against the Red Sox.
I remember it being a warm night and I was so excited. I was 11 years old (totally giving up my age here. Oh well.) Those that know me may be surprised that I was that old when I went to my first game. Being the oldest and only daughter of three children, I suppose my parents really didn’t think about taking me to a game, being a chick and all. Silly parents.
I remember my uncle, who is now a FDNY lieutenant (shout out to the Harlem Hilton!), was there with us. This man was PUMPED up. So was everyone else around. I never saw so much excitement in my life. It was electric. Yankee fans screaming “F-YOU CHOWDAHEADS!” and Red Sox fan screaming back, well, nothing really that damaging to remember. The line up for the Yanks that game was as such:
1. Willie Randolph 2B
2. Ken Griffey 1B
3. Dave Winfield LF
4. Don Baylor DH
5. Graig Nettles 3B
6. Don Mattingly RF
7. Bob Meacham SS
8. Rick Cerone C
9. Omar Moreno CF
Wow, right? I knew who they were. Topps was a staple for me back then. The Red Sox line up was:
1. Jerry Remy 2B
2. Wade Boggs 3B
3. Jim Rice LF
4. Carl Yastrzemski DH
5. Reid Nichols CF
6. Dave Stapleton 1B
7. Ed Jurak SS
8. Rick Miller RF
9. Jeff Newman C
Yankees won 4-3 with Guidry pitching a complete game for his 21st win of the season. The man was on fire. Being a kid, I really didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Looking back on it now, something really bothers me. I remember the stands being fairly empty. Attendance was only 22,604. Not normal for a team that was 20 games over .500. And not normal for a game, in which a player, would be playing his last game there. Not any player; Hall of Fame player, Carl Yastrzemski.
Perhaps, now that I’m older and wiser, with a love for the game, is the reason that this is bothering me so. This man put 23 seasons in with the Red Sox Nation. The only team he ever played for. And half of the seats were empty. Where was the appreciation? Where were his fans? Granted, I know the game was at Yankee Stadium but come on?! You measly pissahs couldn’t drive 2 ½ – 3 hours to the Bronx to watch this man’s career come to an end? Listen, I don’t necessarily condone the visiting team’s fans to buy out tickets out from underneath the home town fans BUT this blows my mind away. Every single one of you clam shucking idiots, who called themselves Red Sox fans then, should be ashamed.
I look at Cal Ripken’s career as an Oriole. Another one-team lifer. Another Hall of Famer. Every ballpark during his last season was PACKED. It didn’t matter what team you were rooting for. Did Ripken have a better career? Sure he did BUT Yaz was the man in Beantown. Even back in the 70’s and 80’s it was rare to see a player spend his entire career with one team. Where was Yaz’s respect? I remember Bob Sheppard’s voice announcing Yaz’s first at bat. And the crowd rose with ovation. Every fan that was in attendance was cheering. And that’s how it should have been, but with a stadium at full capacity. You’re probably wondering why I’m not getting on the case of Yankee fans from that era. I have no reason to. For one reason or another, even with the tremendous line up that the Yankees had, they chose not to be there. And as for Red Sox fans that could have been there? The empty seats that night should have been filled with your chowdahead *****. Shame. I guess you guys have always sucked.
I thought this topic was still in the cup, but after doing some reading today in my, ahem, spare time, it’s out of the jock.
After last night’s outing by Joba Chamberlain, the argument of ” Joba should go back to the bullpen and Wang be put back into the starting rotation”, has raised it’s ugly head again. Here’s my take for the now: JOBA STAYS IN THE ROTATION. Why? Dysfunctional Wang.
I know people that I can go back and forth on this topic with, for days. Damn people, I don’t have time for that in my everyday, mundane routine. Sheesh. They will argue with me that they’re confident AND comfortable with Wang back in the starting rotation. I’m sorry, but I have no confidence right now, in a pitcher that can pitch 13 scoreless innings at Triple-A Scranton, and then come back to the Majors and go only 3 innings in relief, giving up 2 earned runs. Do I sound petty? Perhaps, but the Yankees have no room to make more adjustments. If the Yanks can get Keith Olbermann’s mom to come out of her first base line seats at Yankee Stadium, and put on Cervelli’s uniform and call a game, perhaps Wang will throw strikes. I know some of you are probably saying, “Jeez Megan, you HAD to bring up the curse of Chuck Knobloch”. Hey listen, if Wang’s problems aren’t mechanical in nature, then they’re psychological. I’m at the point where I think that a “hip flexor” is not the problem here (not that a hip flexor was the ACTUAL reason for his placement on the DL in the first place). Do I think Wang forgot how to pitch? No. But his head is definitely playing tricks on him. My prescription? Keep him in the bullpen….or put him back on the DL until SOMEONE can finally figure out what is wrong with him.
I think it’s unfair after last night’s performance, given a two hour rain delay, plus the fact that Chamberlain was nailed in the knee during his last outing by a line drive, that folks are demanding his placement back in middle relief. I find it amazing that no one is really pointing out AJ Burnett for his lack-luster performance as of late (but boy he makes a mean pie). I don’t hear anyone suggesting that he needs to go to the pen. Are salaries the issue? Perhaps. The perspective is a little warped. No one saw Teixeira benched for his horrible performance in April. Leave Joba alone. It’ll work out.
You want to know what’s really bothering me concerning the series with the Texas Rangers? The fact that Saltalamacchia’s name on the back of his uniform goes from his belt loops on his left side, up to his shoulders, and back down again to his waist again. Shorten that huh? Get a nickname or something.
This is what happens: The Yanks go on a winning tear. Then they have ONE bad game and need someone to pin it on. Did Joba have a good start last night? No. Did the bats come back to support him? Yes. Did the bullpen keep the Yanks in the game? No. Outcome? Loss. It’s that simple. It’s not rocket science. It’s baseball, people.
If anyone out there has a better formula or equation, I want to hear it.
I’ve been feeling rather superstitious lately. It’s one of the main reasons why I haven’t written in over a week. The other being that I had company who didn’t have a clue about baseball and I HAD to entertain. What a cramp in my style.
I was in Baltimore for the game on the May 9th. A-Rod was back, tons of Yankee fans in the stands. Hughes was on the mound and I had great hopes. So did Jeff Levinson, who sat behind me with his fiancée. This game was a college graduation present for Jeff. With Hughes giving up 8 runs in the 2nd, and after further innings of commiserating with my fellow fan, I soon realized that he would have rather gotten an enema than watch this debacle. I felt his pain, and kept thinking , “ok, A-Rod’s back. It’s gonna turn around now. HE TOLD ME SO”. But he went 0-3 with a walk, after going yard the night before on the first pitch of his first at bat. A good friend of mine tells me, repeatedly, that “you can’t count on them. Don’t get your hopes up Megan.” He actually told me that he was going to buy a KC Royals hat BUT they were sold out of his big head size on MLB.com. Well, you know what? The next time I talk to him, I’m going to get all Harry Kalas (may he rest in peace) on his ***. I’ve got high hopes baby, and you ain’t stopping my 4 train of thought.
Numbers and pie.
Say all that you want to about Alex Rodriguez. The man has come to save the day, just like he told me in my dream. That cape is a-flowin’. Since his return, the Yanks are 9-2. He’s hit 4 dingers in 4 consecutive games. Teixeira and Damon have become the Wonder Twins to his Superman. Rodriguez is a catalyst. And there has been a major reaction to his return. Teixeira’s batting average has jumped almost 50 points in 10 games, along with doubling his RBIs to 30 in the same period of time. Damon has been on fire, with his slugging percentage well above .600. The starting pitching has come around. CC has won his last 3 starts, striking out 7 batters, in 7 innings to achieve the Yankees 7th straight win, after the Yankees scored 7 runs in the bottom of the 7th (now you know why I want to gamble). The bullpen isn’t as shaky, with Coke even earning his first major league save. Three walk-off home run wins, in three back-to-back-to-back games. A feat that hasn’t been done by the Yankees since 1972. Solid performances by Cabrera, Cervelli, Gardiner and Cash have helped. And even though A.J. Burnett was the last Yankee pitcher to lose a game in the past 11 match-ups, he has started what hopes to be the new Yankee tradition of taking a pie in the face. A positive pie. The negativity has to end. And my high hopes are telling me that’s it’s only going to get better, especially with Bruney coming off the DL yesterday.
Tonight sees Hughes against Guthrie. My negative thoughts want to scream “oh good God”. I was witness to Hughes’ last start against Baltimore. While I may not bet that Hughes will go 8 innings, striking out 8 batters for the Yankees 8th straight win, I refuse to let the Donny Downer thoughts of my friend, who seemed ready to jump ship, seep back into my head. This is a different team than it was before May 8th. The fight and fun are back. Even Girardi has been smiling. Hughes needs the vibes of the past 12 days to resonate in his fastball. Unlike my AL Central, bandwagon jumping friend, I HAVE faith. I’ve been a Yankee fan since birth. You DON’T jump ship.
A.J.- get the pie ready. Victories are sweet.