The All-Star Break

My word, these are the longest 4 days of my life.  Josh Hamiltion managed to get me thru Monday, and the All-Star game from Tuesday into Wednesday, but my god last night and tonight are tough ones:  4 consecutive days without Yankees’ baseball.  I can barely manage, good thing the All-Star game was at least at The Stadium.  I thought the old girl held up pretty well.

For those of you who, like me, need some sort of baseball fix, please keep your eyes out for ESPN’s Greatest Moments in Yankee Stadium.  It was on last night and hopefully will be again for those who missed it.  It was a great show, displaying not only the greatest Yankees’ moments but those of all sports, politics, music, etc.  It was a very enjoyable hour of television, and even some of my Red Sox fan family members thought so.  Check it out.

Speaking of The Stadium, she and my beloved Bombers will play host to Oakland starting tomorrow night to kick off the second “half.”  To me, that begs this question:  Can the Yanks win 68% of their games down the stretch?  (67 games remaining, 45 wins, 22 losses, 67.2% winning percentage would equal 95 wins on the year.)  Isnt 95 wins just about what it takes to win this division year in and year out?  Perhaps more importantly, will the Rays’ slide continue and can the Yanks surpass the Twins and A’s in the Wild Card?  No hope is lost, but this appears to be our best shot en route to #27…although it wouldnt be the first time the Sox played .500 ball in the second half to fall from grace.

Well, Moose takes the bump against the A’s tomorrow night, and it cant come fast enough.

Go Yanks!

 

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Bobby Murcer

Typically athletes grab our attention with their on field performances and we shape our impressions of “their real persona” from that.  I am barely old enough to remember Bobby Murcer on the field with Don Mattingly, so my perception of his persona is not misguided by his on field abilities.  I came to “know” Bobby Murcer from his “glory days” in the broadcast booth, and I have to say I cant imagine him being anything different then what came thru the TV.  Naive, perhaps, but I doubt I am alone in my estimation of Mr. Murcer as a gentleman.

Imagine this:  Roger Maris was the reigning AL MVP when he came to the Bombers in ’61, and was vilified by his own home towners for keeping Mickey from the top of the home run heap.  That said, Bobby Murcer succeeded Mickey and became a fan favorite.  How do you take over for the Mick and win the crowd?  Truly remarkable, both in performance and personality.  The good guys lost another one yesterday, Bobby Murcer, dead at 62.

While I doubt Mr. Murcer would ever use any terminal language in announcing the apparent collapse of the Rays, it certainly appears their slide is well under way.  The Sox have cut the lead to a tiny half game and my beloved Bombers are perched 5 more back.  It is certainly heating up to be another Midnight Blue & Red Socked dog fight, one that Mr. Murcer would surely have enjoyed.

I am sure Cito Gaston and JP Riccardi have orchestrated some sort of moment of silence for today’s series finale in Toronto, and my guess is Bobby Murcer is entirely too humble to believe it is in his memory.  I just dusted off my autographed picture of Mr. Murcer throwing paws during a brawl at Fenway during the early ’70’s…It was cool to look at yesterday, now it’s even more special.

Go Yanks!

 

Joba, John Challis & Lots of Runs

After my last rant about watching American League pitchers futily attempt to work the bat, Joba actually looked pretty good last night, dropping a perfect sac bunt and taking some serious hacks.  More importantly, he was a stud on the bump.  I am still struggling internally with the move from the back end of the pen, but outwardly he is a blast to watch.

His gas is gross and his changes of speed are ridiculous.  Now that he is stretched out and we’re only 5 1/2 back before June has ended, I have a feeling I will be more adjusted to Joba being a starter than I originally thought.  As impressive as Joba was last night, he was only the second most impressive person in the building.

Those of you who have the Extra Innings package to watch our Beloved Bombers watched last night’s game via the Pirates’ broadcast, and the young man who threw out the first pitch and was later an in booth guest during the broadcast was the most impressive person in the building.  Meet John Challis:  A Pennsylvania native high schooler who is suffering from cancer.  In addition to his quick wit, his overall stance on things makes him the most impressive young man I have seen in sometime.  When asked how he is managing, his response stopped me cold.

“I am just dealing with the situation I was dealt, trying to make the best of it.  The only thing I am not doing is complaining about it.”  Truly remarkable.  Best of luck, John Challis.

Well, let’s see if the Bombers keep the offense rolling for Moose tonight – Go Yanks!

 

Hilarious!

No sooner did I mock the move in my last post two days ago then my Beloved Bombers actually inked Sydney “The Erratic Aruban” Ponson to a minor league deal – good god save us.

Go Yanks!

 

This Place Is Restricted, Wang, So Dont Tell Them You’re a Pitcher

Chien-Ming Wang hurts his foot running the bases in a lop-sided Yankee rout in yet another awful interleague series – really?  Of course he did.  And of course he’ll miss an estimated six weeks.  I understand the senior circuit and especially their smaller markets need the draw the Yankees, Red Sox, and/or Angels bring, or, for example, Yankees’ fans have a chance to see Junior or Jake Peavy, but do we really need the baseball?  It is awful – watching guys who get paid millions of dollars for the sole purpose of throwing 200 starting innings wave wildly at sac bunts in putrid at bats that rarely last more than three pitches is ridiculous.

I am not necessarily for the DH in both leagues full-time, but why not in interleague play?  The poorest example to suit my argument is of course Sunday’s rout over Houston, where the Astros’ starting pitcher Roy Oswalt was one of the few productive hitters on his team.  That said, would the national league teams (and more specifically their pitchers) benefit from a half day off, only pitching without the hassles of risking injury running the bases and trying to hit?  Would their managers breathe a little easier knowing their stud starters can focus solely on pitching, and maybe even increase their offense with a better bat off the bench in the pitcher’s spot, at least in the couple of dozen interleague games we are forced to stomach?

Typically at this point someone inevitably mentions the one or two barely competent “hitting” pitchers and it is a useless argument.  30 Big League clubs, 150 starting pitchers – less than a handful of them can handle the bat, there is no argument.  The one argument that does have some legs is that Wang could have been hurt just as easily being hit by a batted ball.  True enough, however, being part of his regular duties it certainly is much easier to swallow.  Perhaps if I were a fan of a national league club, forced to stomach nearly all of my team’s games being played with only 8 hitters in the lineup, I would feel differently.  But there is no intrigue or anticipation for me to see Mike Mussina or Chien-Ming Wang step up to the plate – they’re pitchers…I dont expect them to be able to bat in this day and age, which, most likely, is why they are pitchers!

Ok, so the complaining is done – now we need a replacement starter.  Great news:  Sidney “The Erratic Aruban” Ponson was just waived by Texas!  No thanks.  Hopefully the answer will come from within, and I am sure there will be trade opportunities – but if we didnt make “The Trade” this offseason what trade will we make now?  Only time will tell.

Bring on the Pad’s, Go Yanks!

 

Base-Brawl & The Giambino

Two of baseball’s greatest cities got to witness two of the wilder games of recent note.  After a wild Wednesday night and generally disappointing Boston Bruins’ season, Coco Crisp decided to give the Chowds one more hockey game to witness.

Purposely hit on the thigh by Tampa’s Shields in retaliation for his blunders on Wednesday night, Crisp decided to keep the blunders rolling by then charging the mound.  While I disagree to the decision to charge the mound, I give Coco a lot of credit:  It takes brass to charge the mound knowing the first guy to your defense will be Julio (115 pound) Lugo.

My opposition to charging the mound ( and trust me it has nothing to do with being a pacifist ) was that Coco was due to get plunked, he even went so far as to ask for it to insure no one else on his team took one in the ribs on his behalf.  He asked for it to protect his team, and in turn Shields protected Coco by hitting him in the thigh.  Coco goes to first base and the whole thing is over, however, by charging the mound Coco all but insured another flare up down the road.  Had Shields head hunted him, I would have agreed with Coco 100%. 

With the two teams battling for first place, Shields “decision” to hit Coco in his first AB is certainly questionable.  It is in no way, however, as questionable as Toronto 2B Inglett dashing off to third on a one out line drive to Melky Cabrera in short left center field.  Cabrera had such an easy double play in order that I honestly believe it was his own shock that Inglett had already rounded third that distracted Melky from making the catch, not getting the double play and leading to a 5 run Blue Jay outburst in the Bronx.  It was truly a ridiculous play:  One team’s mental mistake leads to their opponent’s physical mistake, it was truly ugly.

Ugly, for lack of a better word, is perhaps better defined by Cano’s attempt to get a sacrifice bunt down.  A Sac Bunt.  Uglier than your grandmother’s underwear.  But the Bronx’s share of the day’s insanity didnt end there.  The two greatest words since “Prevent Defense” rose up and bit Toronto on the butt with a 2 run lead in the ninth when ARod took second base on “defensive indifference” only to then be driven in by Godzilla bringing The Giambino to the plate in a one run game.

The rest, as they say, is history…history that came in the form of an 0-2 hanger that landed about 15 rows into the upper deck in right.  Adda, boy Jason…I say the walk off means you can keep the ‘stache at least one more week. 

Bring on the Royals, Go Yanks!

 

I Just Don’t Get It…

Really?  Is that it?  That I “just dont get it?”  That was the reply and only explanation my “baseball fan” friend had for me when I argued against moving Joba into the rotation.  Now keep in mind, that was my stance before last night, and in no way is based on 2.1 innings in what must have been a nerved 62 pitches.

Joba’s stuff is ridiculous, and he proved last night that he can start in the big leagues.  (For the record I thought the balk call was bogus and that he didnt get some calls but his stuff while not perfect was certainly more than promising.)  The arguement isnt whether he is good enough to start, it’s simply why would we want him to?  I said before you are limiting yourself with Joba’s appearences to one potential win every five days from the rotation when he and Mo proved to be a rock solid combo who potentially can deliver 3-4 wins every five days.  Too me it just doesnt make sense.

Can Jonathan Papelbon be a starting pitcher in the bigs?  Maybe, but more importantly who cares?  The Sox like him right where they want him.  Granted the 5th spot in the Sox rotation isnt exactly as up for grabs as the Yanks’ is, but with the return of ARod and now Jorge why is this the time to weaken the bullpen?  I guess the biggest problem I have with this is the two most important words relative to the success of Joba as a started have become Kyle Farnsworth, and that is troubling to me.

Maybe I just dont get…Go Yanks!