Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yanks Clinch! Well, They Will

It has come to my attention that the Boston Red Sox are more crippled than the Yankees.
Sox slugger and MVP hopeful David Ortiz was stricken with an irregular heart beat and Manny Ramirez is out with a hamstring injury. Both players are out indefinitely putting huge holes in the Sox line up.
Yankees in the mean time have recovered from their holes when they signed Bobby Abreu and Melky Cabrera's unexpected, yet impressive, numbers.
Outfielders Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui will return to the line up some time in September.
With the Red Sox owning the worst August record (8-19), and the Yankees on a hot streak, things look great for a ninth straight division title.
Pitching needs to still improve as Mike Mussina lost his lead in wins for the team to Chein-Ming Wang, and Randy Johnson still unpredictable. Jaret Wright is slowly making a turn for the better and Cory Lidle is still questionable.

With what the Yankees have now, they have a great chance of winning the World Series.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:39 PM 0 Heckles

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pavano - A Waste Of Time

The Carl Pavano saga added yet another chapter Monday with news that Pavano has two fractured ribs suffered in a car accident on Aug. 15 in West Palm Beach, Fla. The accident occurred the morning of a rehab assignment for Class A Tampa.
Pavano, who hasn't pitched in the Majors in 14 months due to shoulder, back, buttocks and most recently elbow injuries, didn't report the accident to senior vice president and general manager Brian Cashman until Saturday.

The Yankees starter felt discomfort in his ribcage after pitching six innings for Triple-A Columbus on Friday night. He felt he was ready to return to the Yankees following the start, but the injury didn't seem to get any better, so he decided to inform Yankees management.

"Of course I'm angry," Cashman said. "You can't help somebody if they won't help themselves. ... I've got an army of people here that we provide to put our players in the best position possible to succeed, and I don't want anybody to sabotage that by holding back. And clearly, here, for a period of time that took place."

Pavano appeared to be on his way back to the Yankees' rotation and was tentatively scheduled to make a start some time later this week. Now, after getting a full checkup and throwing a side session on Monday, Pavano will make another rehab start with Columbus on Wednesday before being reevaluated by doctors and Yankees management.

"If he's healthy, he'll pitch," Cashman said, adding that it will be manager Joe Torre's decision on where Pavano will fit into the rotation or bullpen. It was believed that Pavano could have replaced Jaret Wright in the rotation or at least fill in while Mike Mussina was on the disabled list, but Wright will start on Thursday.

Pavano said his car hit a puddle and spun out of control, hitting a truck that was at a stop sign. Pavano said his car wasn't totaled, that he wasn't charged with the accident and that he didn't get any medical treatment on the scene or afterward.

Pavano did not inform any coaches about the accident and made three rehab starts before reporting what happened. He said he didn't feel much pain just after the accident. Pavano threw four scoreless innings that night, so he figured he could play through it.

But the pain didn't go away despite icing it himself, forcing him to "come clean and get the right treatment."

"It just seems like there's a lot of distractions that are caused by me that go around with the team, and I figured that, at the time, it was something I could get through," Pavano said. "It backfired on me. I take full responsibility for making the wrong decision. It's been frustrating for me. Obviously, I want to pitch."

Cashman remembered former Yankee Paul O'Neill playing through a similar injury. Still, Cashman said that it's the obligation of every player to always report any injuries and that he's still gathering information on whether Pavano broke any contractual obligations.

Pavano signed a four-year, $39.95 million contract before last season following an 18-8 season with the Marlins. He has started just 17 games for the Yankees, going 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA. Pavano said the pressures placed on him to finally return to the club added to his reasons for not telling Yankees management about the injury sooner.

"There are a lot of expectations that I put on myself two years ago that I still haven't gotten the chance to move forward on," he said. "I put pressure on myself to pitch and be a big part of the team and not be a distraction, which is basically how I feel.

"It would be nice to get those things behind me. The only way I can do that is go out there on the mound and do my job and try to live up to why they signed me. Those things are very important to me."

On Sunday, several Yankees players, who asked to remain nameless, questioned Pavano's desire to return to the team. Upon hearing of Pavano's rib injury, which was originally thought to be a strain, Torre said, "It became one of those things where it took the air out of the balloon again."

Cashman said he's only worried about Pavano's health right now, and Pavano also said he's not concerned with his teammates' reactions if or when he returns to the clubhouse.

"I don't feel like I need anybody to feel sorry for me," Pavano said. "I'll do what I have to do to get through this. If they don't understand, I don't think I have much control over that. Me talking to them or trying to save face -- that's not the type of guy I am.

"I can understand why some people think that happens for some reason or this happens for some reason," he continued. "But I'm really the only one who has the answers. So a lot of the answers depend on how I perform, and I understand that."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 11:47 PM 0 Heckles

Saturday, August 26, 2006

2006 Mock Playoffs

With the pennant and wild card races heating up to Texas temperature levels, we start throwing around possible playoffs match ups. Yes, it is still six weeks away for the opening pitch in game one of the Division Series, and one team so far has a lock on winning their division, the New York Mes who hold a 13.5 game lead over the second place Phillies.
However, if the season was going to end TODAY, this is what the outcome will be:
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
AL West: Oakland Athletics
AL WC: Minnesota Twins
NL East: New York Mets
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West: Los Angelas Dodgers
NL WC: Cincinnati Reds

Now, we can use that in my mock playoffs, OR, we can use my predicted teams which is pretty much the same, except the Chicago White Sox will take the AL Wild Card. But since I do not yet know the outcome for another six weeks, I will use the current leaders.

Yankees vs. Twins
Game 1: Twins 8, Yankees 5
Game 2: Yankees 6, Twins 5
Game 3: Yankees 6, Twins 4
Game 4: Twins 9, Yankees 5
Game 5: Yankees 4, Twins 0
Yankees advance 3-2

Tigers vs Athletics
Game 1: Tigers 11, Athletic's 10
Game 2: Athletic's 5, Tigers 2
Game 3: Tigers 5, Athletic's 4
Game 4: Tigers 3, Athletic's 2
Tigers advance 3-1

Mets vs Reds
Game 1: Reds 7, Mets 3
Game 2: Mets 6, Reds 4
Game 3: Mets 5, Reds 1
Game 4: Reds 1, Mets 1 (original sim had the Mets winning 28-1,due to a score like that, we redid the sim to make the score more accurate)
Game 5: Mets 5, Reds 1
Mets advance 3-2

Cardinals vs. Dodgers
Game 1: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 4
Game 2: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 4
Game 3: Cardinals 8, Didgers 1(original sim had the Dodgers winning 30-1, sim recalculated)
Game 4: Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4
Cardinals advance 3-1

Yankees vs Tigers
Game 1: Tigers 8, Yankees 7
Game 2: Tigers 4, Yankees 3
Game 3: Yankees 6, Tigers 1
Game 4: Yankees 15, Tigers 9
Game 5: Tigers 8, Yankees 4
Game 6: Yankees 9, Tigers 3
Game 7: Yankees 12, Tigers 7
Yankees advance 4-3

Mets vs Cardinals
Game 1: Mets 4, Cardinals 2
Game 2: Cardinals 2, Mets 1
Game 3: Mets 8, Cardinals 7
Game 4: Cardinals 13, Mets 3
Game 5: Cardinals 7, Mets 6
Game 6: Mets 3, Cardinals 1
Game 7: Cardinals 2, Mets 0
Cardinals advance 4-3

Yankees vs Cardinals
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Yankees 1
Game 2: Cardinals 9, Yankees 7
Game 3: Cardinals 6, Yankees 5
Game 4: Yankees 9, Cardinals 6
Game 5: Cardinals 12, Yankees 4
Cardinals win their 10th World Series five games to one.

Well, Yankees fans, doesn't look good. However, these are calculated simulations and will not reflect on the actual scores.
We will have another mock playoffs when all teams have clinched their respective devisions and wild cards.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:44 AM 1 Heckles

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yankees World Series Last Outs

One of the numerous projects I had lined up was to record every last out in a Yankees World Series. This chart will also be published in my book, which I have procrastinated too long on.

CAPS indicate the winning team.

Game 7
Yankees third baseman Home Run Baker grounds into a double play second -> first -> third

Game 4
Yankees second baseman Aaron Ward flies out to right field

Game 6
Giants pitcher Jack Bentley grounded out second -> first

Game 7
Yankees right fielder Babe Ruth caught stealing second base

Game 4
Pirates pitcher John Miljus threw a wild pitch enabling Earle Combs to score the winning run

Game 4
Cardinals second baseman Frankie Frisch fouled out to left field

Game 4
Cubs left fielder Riggs Stephenson flied out to right field

Game 6
Giants catcher Harry Danning grounded out to first unassisted

Game 5
Giants left fielder Jo-Jo Moore grounded out pitcher -> first base

Game 5
Cubs second baseman Billy Herman grounded out pitcher -> first

Game 4
Reds outfielder Wally Berger lined out to shortstop

Game 5
Dodgers pinch hitter Jimmy Wasdel flied out to center

Game 5
Yankees pinch hitter George Selkirk grounds out second -> first

Game 5
Cardinals left fielder Debs Garms grounded out second -> first

Game 7
Dodgers catcher Bruce Edwards grounds into a double play shortstop -> second -> first

Game 5
Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges strikes out

Game 4
Phillies pinch hitter Stan Lopata strikes out

Game 6
Giants pinch hitter Sal Yvars lines out to right field

Game 7
Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese flies out to left field

Game 6
Yankees first baseman Billy Martin singles in Hank Bauer

Game 7
Yankees left fielder Elston Howard grounds out shortstop -> first

Game 7
Dodgers third baseman Jackie Robinson strikes out

Game 7
Yankees pitcher Tommy Byrne hits into a fielders choice to third base, Jerry Coleman out at third

Game 7
Braves second baseman Red Shoendienst lines out to center

Game 7
Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hits a walk off home run

Game 5
Reds center fielder Vada Pinson flied out to left field

Game 7
Giants left fielder Willie McCovey lines out to second

Game 4
Yankees right fielder Hector Lopez grounds out shortstop -> first

Game 7
Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson popped out to second

Game 4
Yankees left fielder Roy White flied out to center

Game 6
Dodgers pinch hitter Lee Lacy bunted out to the pitcher

Game 6
Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey popped out to catcher

Game 6
Yankees first baseman Bob Watson flied out to center

Game 6
Braves second baseman Mark Lemke popped out to third base

Game 4
Padres pinch hitter Mark Sweeny grounded out to third -> first

Game 4
Braves designated hitter Keith Lockhart flied out to left field

Game 5
Mets catcher Mike Piazza flied out to center

Game 7
Diamondbacks let fielder Luis Gonzalez hits a game winning single

Game 6
Yankees catcher grounds out to pitcher

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 11:15 PM 0 Heckles

How Sweep It Is

Before this weekend, the Yankees had swept the Red Sox in a five-game series at Fenway Park just twice in their history, doing so in 1927 and 1943. They won the World Series in both of those years.
New York accomplished the rare five-game sweep again on Monday, but the Yanks will have to wait another couple of months before they can try adding another title to the franchise's total of 26 World Series titles.

The Yankees closed out the improbable weekend with a 2-1 win over the Red Sox, as Cory Lidle tossed six innings of shutout ball and four relievers combined to close out the final three innings.

The sweep put some serious distance between the two rivals, as the Yankees boosted their lead over the Red Sox in the American League East from 1 1/2 games to 6 1/2 games since Friday.

The Yankees last swept the Red Sox in a five-game set in September 1951 at Yankee Stadium. The previous two five-game sweeps in Boston came in June 1927 and September 1943.

David Wells cruised through the first three innings, his only hiccup coming in the second when Robinson Cano doubled with one out.

Lidle matched him zero for zero, though the Red Sox mounted a two-out threat in the first after David Ortiz singled and Manny Ramirez walked. Lidle got Eric Hinske to ground out, stranding the runners.

The Yankees put runners at first and second to open the fourth, but Alex Rodriguez grounded into a double play and Cano grounded out, killing the rally.

Lidle flirted with trouble in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with a pair of two-out walks. Javy Lopez missed his chance to give Boston the lead, grounding out to end the frame.

New York finally broke through against Wells in the sixth, using a one-out single by Melky Cabrera, a stolen base and a two-out double by Abreu to take a 1-0 lead.

Lidle posted another zero in the bottom of the sixth, overcoming a dropped popup by Nick Green to hold the one-run lead and turn the game over to the bullpen.

Octavio Dotel started the seventh, but he was lifted after giving up a one-out single to Mark Loretta. Mike Myers came in and struck out Ortiz, then Scott Proctor retired Gabe Kapler to finish the inning.

New York tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, as Green doubled off Wells, moved to third on a sac bunt by Cabrera, then scored on a Keith Foulke wild pitch.

Wily Mo Pena cut the lead in half with a solo shot off Proctor in the eighth, but Kyle Farnsworth closed it out with a scoreless ninth, earning his second save of the season.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 5:11 PM 1 Heckles

1978 'Boston Massacre'

On Sept. 7, 1978, there was hope for elusive peace in the Middle East as Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat were in secret meetings with President Jimmy Carter at Camp David. Pope Paul VI had just passed away and was succeeded by Pope John Paul I. Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, died on this day of a drug overdose.
It was the age of disco and "Saturday Night Fever." Olivia Newton-John was singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" in the smash-hit "Grease." And hopelessly devoted to the Boston Red Sox were their fans who could not have known that it would be more than another quarter-century before they would win it all.

This was the start of a four-game series at Fenway Park against the rival New York Yankees, and what happened that week at a much different time in America obviously is not forgotten now. With the Yankees completing a five-game sweep of the Red Sox on Monday at Fenway Park, there are widespread mentions of baseball's original "Boston Massacre," even "Son of Massacre" references.

What happened in 1978 always would remain part of the lore of The Rivalry, for better or for worse, depending on who was telling the story. Here is a look at what happened:

Sept. 7: The Red Sox had built a lead as high as 14 games in midsummer and appeared poised to dethrone their rivals, who had just won the previous World Series to end their own 15-year drought. But the gap in the American League East standings had been narrowed to just four games entering this series, due to a combination of Boston injuries and a hot streak by the World Series champs. Billy Martin had resigned, and now the Yankees were cruising under the low-key managerial style of Bob Lemon.

Boston had gone 25-24 since July 24. During that same time, the Yankees had gone 35-14. "We're not thinking of a split," Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers said. "We're thinking of all four."

Assigned to stop the bleeding back home at Fenway was Boston starter Mike Torrez, who was looking for his 16th victory. He faced Catfish Hunter in the opener, and the tempo was set immediately. Torrez lasted one inning. The Yankees had a 5-0 lead after two innings, 7-0 after three, and 12-0 after four. The final score was 15-3. Willie Randolph -- these days managing the Mets with no such divisional drama -- drove in five of those runs by himself. He was one of three Yanks with three hits, along with Thurman Munson and Roy White. Ken Clay was the winner, in relief of Hunter.

Sept. 8: This game pitted two rookie starters -- Jim Wright for the Sox and Jim Beattie for the charging Bombers. The destruction on the field and the tension in the stands was much the same. The Yankees collected 17 more hits, and the Red Sox committed an unfathomable seven errors. New York won, 13-2, and now the 14-game deficit was down to just two tenuous games.

In two games, the Yankees had cranked out 28 runs to Boston's five, outhitting the Sox 38-14. Worst of all were the combined nine errors by the home team.

"Boston's got the best record in baseball," Yankees super scout Clyde King said. "I could understand if an expansion team fell apart like his. It can't go on like this."

Sept. 9: Red Sox manager Don Zimmer put his best pitcher out on the mound for the third game of the series. It was future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who had been 16-6 and had won his last nine decisions at Fenway. It was the rough equivalent of the 2006 Red Sox summoning Curt Schilling to stop the bleeding in this latest reprisal.

The Yankees, however, were able to counter in that third game with Ron Guidry. He was 20-2 heading into this start, mixing his fastball and slider in a practically untouchable way that season. Boston could not touch him; this one was 7-0, Yanks.

One game back.

Even Carlton Fisk, the Red Sox catcher, was asking the question: "How can a team get 30-something games over .500 in July and then in September see its pitching, hitting and fielding all fall apart at the same time?"

On the opposite side, Reggie Jackson had an explanation of his own: "This team is loaded with tough guys. This team is loaded with professionals."

Sept. 10: The finale was the only game that could be construed as close in some manner. Rookie Bobby Sprowl started for the Red Sox against Ed Figueroa. The Yanks built a 6-0 lead through four innings. They held on to win, 7-4, for Figueroa's 16th victory, leaving Fenway tied atop the AL East with an identical 86-56 record after one of the greatest comebacks during a Major League regular season.

It was billed as the "Boston Massacre," and when it was all over, the Yankees had accounted for 42 runs and 67 hits (58 of them singles) in just four days. Boston had managed just nine runs and 21 hits, to go along with a dozen errors. The Yankees won all four games by an average margin of over eight runs.

In the four games, Lou Piniella was 10-for-16 with five RBIs, White was 8-for-15, Randolph 8-for-16 with six RBIs, Munson 8-for-16 with three RBIs, and Rivers 5-for-13. A Yankees shortstop named Bucky Dent was 7-for-18 with seven RBIs.

Of course, he would save his best for later that fall. A week after the Boston Massacre, the Yankees took two of three from the Sox in the Bronx to pad a division lead. Boston heroically fought back and forced a one-game playoff, at which point Dent put himself into rivalry lore by hitting the homer at Fenway that sent the Yankees on their way toward an eventual repeat World Series championship.

Red Sox fans probably could do without the history lesson, presuming such pages to be closed after what happened in 2004. But after what has happened these past few days at Fenway, the story must be told again.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 4:21 PM 0 Heckles

Sunday, August 20, 2006

All-Time 40-Man Roster

Some of the greatest players of all-time have played with the Yankees. They have 34 members in the Hall of Fame and 17 retired numbers with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera sure to have theirs retired. So how can one create a roster featuring the best 40 players of all-time?
There is no way to justify the correct roster, so here I present to you is my own roster. Feel free to submit your own.

1-Joe DiMaggio, CF
2-Derek Jeter, SS
3-Babe Ruth, RF
4-Mickey Mantle, LF
5-Lou Gehrig, 1B
6-Reggie Jackson, DH
7-Yogi Berra, C
8-Toni Lazzeri, 2B
9-Graig Nettles, 3B

1-Whitey Ford
2-Roger Clemens
3-Ron Guidry
4-Lefty Gomez
5-Allie Reynolds

1-Goose Gossage
2-Catfish Hunter
3-Dave Righetti

1-Mariano Rivera

Elston Howard, C
Thurmon Munson, C
Bill Dickey, C
Phil Rizzuto, SS
Bobby Richardson, SS
Frank Crosetti, SS
Joe Sewell, SS
Wade Boggs, 3B
Red Rolfe, 3B
Alfonso Soriano, 2B/OF
Enos Slaughter, OF
Earle Combs, OF
Bob Meusel, OF
Tommy Henrich, OF
Roy White, OF
Waite Hoyt, P
Ed Lopat, P
Red Ruffing, P
Jack Chesbro, P
Herb Pennock, P
Bob Shawkey, P
Al, Downing, P

Joe Torre

Bench- Casey Stengle
Pitching- Mel Stottlemeyer
Hitting- Lou Pinella
1st Base- Joe McCarthy
3rd Base- Clete Boyer

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 3:15 AM 0 Heckles

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Yankees Offense Dominance Continues

During a span of roughly 28 hours, the Yankees managed to turn Fenway Park into their own personal batting cage.
New York continued its domination over Boston's pitching, rapping Josh Beckett and a trio of relievers around the yard in a 13-5 victory.

The win was the third in a row for the Yankees, who extended their lead in the American League East to 4 1/2 games over the Red Sox.

Jorge Posada's three-run triple capped a five-run sixth inning for New York, which has scored 39 runs in the first three games of the five-game series. Robinson Cano put the game away with a three-run homer in the eighth.

Johnny Damon continued to torch his former team, going 3-for-5 with three doubles. Damon is 9-for-19 with six extra-base hits, five runs scored and eight RBIs in the three games.

Randy Johnson wasn't at his best, allowing five runs on four hits in seven innings, but he was worlds better than Beckett, who was charged with nine runs on seven hits and a career-high nine walks in 5 2/3 innings. In three starts against New York this year, he is 1-2 with a 12.21 ERA; in his last two, he is 0-2 with a 20.57 ERA.

The Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings, scoring twice in the second and once in the third. New York worked Beckett's pitch count, which reached 64 by the end of the third.

Johnson cruised through the first three innings without allowing a hit, and he erased his only walk with a double-play ball. But things fell apart in the fourth, as the Sox hit the Big Unit for four runs, three on Manny Ramirez's 34th homer of the year -- which also happened to be Boston's first hit of the game.

The Yankees regained the lead in the fifth with a pair of runs against Beckett, who needed 25 more pitches to get through the inning, bringing his total to 97. Boston tied it at 5 in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI sacrifice fly by David Ortiz.

Beckett couldn't hold the game there in the sixth, though, losing whatever limited control he may have had. After Damon doubled with one out, Beckett walked Jeter. Bobby Abreu grounded out to first, moving the runners to second and third, then Beckett walked Jason Giambi to load the bases.

Alex Rodriguez, who hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the first, drew a walk to bring Damon home and give the Yankees a 6-5 lead. The walk, which was Beckett's ninth of the game, was all Terry Francona could take, as he pulled his starter in favor of Manny Delcarmen.

Unfortunately, Delcarmen was no better, as he walked Cano to force in another run. That brought up Posada, who worked the count to 3-1 before drilling a triple to center, clearing the bases to give the Yankees a 10-5 lead.

Johnson retired the side in order in the sixth, striking out Gabe Kapler to end the inning. That brought a big fist pump from the Big Unit, who was able to keep the momentum on his team's side. Johnson posted another zero in the seventh, striking Ortiz out with a runner on second to end the frame -- and his day.

Cano's homer was the icing on the cake, stretching the lead to 13-5. Cano crushed his shot into the batter's eye seats in center field, his eighth homer of the year.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 6:48 PM 0 Heckles

Wild Game 2

The reality show "Survivor" tells its players to "Outwit, Outplay and Outlast" their competition.
It's hard to say that the Yankees outwitted or outplayed the Red Sox on Friday night, but one thing is for certain: they outlasted their rivals in the longest nine-inning game ever played in the Majors.

The Yankees used a seven-run seventh inning to overcome a three-run deficit, earning a sweep of the doubleheader with a 14-11 victory. New York won the first game, 12-4.

"This is a team right now that just refuses to roll over," Joe Torre said. "What a terrific comeback."

The game, which clocked in at four hours and 45 minutes, set the Major League record for the longest nine-inning game in history. While not considered an official doubleheader, the day-night twin bill lasted a combined 8:40, which would have shattered the previous record of 7:39 for the longest 18-inning doubleheader ever.

"It makes a manager feel good when you sense they're going to fight all the way to the end," Torre said. "We kept looking up and it kept being the fourth inning. It was nuts."

"I feel like somebody just kicked my [butt]," David Ortiz said. "Actually, somebody did. That was ... unbelievable."

The Yankees' sweep extended their lead over the Red Sox to 3 1/2 games in the American League East. The two teams play three more times over the next three days, but the Yankees will leave Boston with a lead no matter what happens in those games.

"It's better than losing two, but we still have three more games," Derek Jeter said. "We have to take it one game at a time. I think we've been playing pretty well. We didn't pitch as well as we'd like the second game, but hopefully tomorrow we can keep it rolling."

Boston scored a run in the first, but the Yankees answered with five runs against Jon Lester in the second, making the rookie left-hander throw 41 pitches in the process.

Sidney Ponson gave the runs right back, as the Red Sox countered with three in the bottom of the second. Boston tied the game with a run in the third, as both starting pitchers saw their pitch counts skyrocket after just three frames.

Johnny Damon, who homered and drove in four runs in the first game, poked a two-run homer around the Pesky Pole in the fourth, giving the Yanks a 7-5 lead. Lester left after 3 2/3 innings and 95 pitches, charged with all seven runs on eight hits and three walks.

Once again, Ponson couldn't hold the momentum, loading the bases with three singles, ending his night after three-plus innings.

"He got ahead in some counts and was just too fat in the strike zone," Torre said. "He has good stuff, and when he keeps the ball down, he can be effective. He couldn't keep the ball out of the middle of the plate."

Ron Villone came in to clean up the bases-loaded, no-out mess, retiring three of the next four hitters while allowing two of the three baserunners to score. The game was tied at 7 after four innings.

Julian Tavarez, who relieved Lester in the fourth, posted a zero in the fifth despite allowing a double and walking a batter. Tavarez threw a perfect sixth, the first 1-2-3 inning of the game.

That gave the Sox an opportunity to take a lead, which they promptly did with three runs in the fifth against Villone, who combined with Brian Bruney to throw 47 pitches to get through the inning.

During a pitching change in the bottom of the sixth, Jeter told Torre that this game was far from over.

"Jeter always looks for the sun to shine," Torre said. "He came over and said, 'I think it's going to take 14 runs tonight.' And there it was. There's no quit in these guys."

Said Jeter: "A lucky guess, I guess."

With a three-run lead heading into the seventh, Boston turned to Craig Hansen, who has been one of its regular late-inning relievers. After getting the first out, Hansen loaded the bases with a walk to pinch-hitter Jason Giambi and singles by Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, also a pinch-hitter.

"Pinch-hitting Jason and Jorge down by three runs, the last thing I wanted to do was put Jorge in the game," Torre said. "But if you get an opportunity to win a game, you do what you can, because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring."

The Sox called on Mike Timlin to put out the fire, but he was unable to do so. Melky Cabrera singled in a run after a gritty nine-pitch at-bat, cutting the lead to 10-8.

"He's got a lot of confidence in himself," Torre said. "He's like a kid playing in the street."

Damon flied out to shallow left for the second out, but Jeter, who was 3-for-20 lifetime against Timlin, followed with an eight-pitch at-bat, doubling to right field to clear the bases and give the Yanks an 11-10 lead.

"I haven't had much success against Timlin," Jeter said. "He's as tough on me as anyone, so it got to a good count and I had a good pitch to hit."

Alex Rodriguez added an RBI double and Robinson Cano tacked on a two-run single, boosting the lead to 14-10 after the seven-run inning.

Mike Myers (1-0), who got one out in the sixth and another in the seventh, picked up the victory.

Kyle Farnsworth came in to start the seventh, but he took a Wily Mo Pena line drive off his lower right leg, forcing him to leave the game with a contusion. X-rays were negative, and Farnsworth was listed by the team as day-to-day.

"It got all muscle," Farnsworth said. "It's going to be a nice bruise. It didn't hurt until after I made the play and started walking around. Then it started to swell."

"He's going to be missing for a few days," said Torre, who didn't think Farnsworth would land on the DL. "The X-rays are all negative, which is good news. But we'll have to see if there's swelling."

Scott Proctor got the final out of the inning, then pitched a scoreless eighth. Mariano Rivera allowed a solo homer to Ortiz in the ninth, but was able to close out the game.

"We had to use everybody at all different times out of our bullpen today," Myers said. "Bruney stuck it to them, Villone sucked it up, Proctor had to come in again; I'll remember today as a long day, but everybody contributed to two wins. It's a great start to a long road trip."

"To win two was a bonus for us," Torre said. "Now we have Randy [Johnson] and [Mike Mussina] going for us in the next two games. Certainly our confidence is sky-high; we'll be a little exhausted, but so will they."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 3:33 AM 0 Heckles

Yanks Set Record in Doubleheader Sweep

The Yankees and Red Sox have played some epic games against each other during their historic rivalry, but Friday night's contest was one for the ages.
That's because it took four hours and 45 minutes for New York to complete a 14-11 win over Boston, marking the longest nine-inning game in Major League history.

"As long as it was a victory, I'm proud of it," Joe Torre said. "Especially in this ballpark, where every game seems like it's the longest nine-inning game in history. I'm pretty emotional right now."

While not considered an official doubleheader, the day-night twin bill lasted a combined 8:40, which would have shattered the previous record of 7:39 for the longest 18-inning doubleheader ever.

The nightcap featured 25 runs, 34 hits and 13 walks, as the two teams scored in nine of the 18 half-innings. Boston scored in each of the first five frames, taking a 10-7 lead. Unfortunately, the five Red Sox pitchers combined to throw 222 pitches in the game.

"We kept looking up, and it kept being the fourth inning," Torre said. "It was nuts."

"I don't even remember half the game," said Derek Jeter, whose three-run double accounted for the winning runs.

The previous big-league record for the longest nine-innin game was 4:27, a Dodgers-Giants game that took place on Oct. 5, 2001. Alex Cora, who started at shortstop for Boston on Friday night, played for Los Angeles in that contest.

The previous American League record was 4:22, which the Yankees and Orioles set on Sept. 5, 1997. Jeter, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada each participated in that game, and now they can say they took part in the longest nine-inning game in either league's history.

"It feels great, especially when it's after another game a few hours earlier and we have another one in a couple of hours," Jeter said with a smirk. "Yeah, it feels real good."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 3:32 AM 0 Heckles

Friday, August 18, 2006

Prospect Pitches No-No

Tyler Clippard made history on Thursday, tossing the first no-hitter in team history as the Trenton Thunder blanked the Harrisburg Senators, 9-0, at Commerce Bank Park.
Clippard (10-10) struck out nine and walked four on the way to his seventh straight win.

"Surreal, it didn't settle in at first" were the 21-year-old right-hander's thoughts immediately after Richard Lane took a called third strike to end the game. "It is unbelievable, an unforgettable night, something I will always remember.

"You always kind of know you have something special going on, but you don't think it will come to fruition until the later innings. I really started to feel like it may happen when there were two outs in the eighth."

Clippard got some stellar defense to protect the first no-hitter in Trenton's 13-year history. With one out in the seventh inning, first baseman Randy Ruiz made a diving stop of Josh Whitesell's grounder and flipped to Clippard covering first.

The second defensive gem came two innings later, when center fielder Brett Gardner made a sliding catch on Kory Casto's deep fly ball.

Long before Gardner's catch, Clippard thought he had surrendered a homer to Casto in the first. But the ball died on the warning track and was caught. The Florida native said balls were not carrying all night, so he wasn't sure about Casto's blast in the ninth.

"I said, 'Oh, gosh, but I turned and saw (Gardner) had a great jump and was going to track it down, and I knew I may get (the no-hitter)."

Clippard took it from there as he retired Major League veteran Jose Vidro on a grounder to third and completed the gem by getting Lane to look at strike three. On April 11, Lane broke up the no-hit bid of Trenton's Steven White with one out in the eighth inning.

The 6-foot-4 righty has not lost since June 29 and has allowed 14 runs over his last 63 innings with 72 strikeout. He has evened his record after starting the season 2-9.

"I did make some changes to make my delivery more consistent and I also learned to slow the game down and throw my off-speed pitches for strikes, especially with runners on base and then execute those things during the game, which is what I did tonight," Clippard said of his turnaround.

The nine strikeouts against Harrisburg raised Clippard's season total to an Eastern League-leading 155. He needs 13 more to shatter the single-season team record.

Ruiz, who had two hits and scored twice, smacked a one-out double in the first to plate Gardner with the game's first run. The Thunder added two runs in the third as Felix Escalona ripped an RBI single and scored on Justin Christain's groundout.

The Thunder broke the game open with a three-run seventh as Eric Duncan, who had two hits and scored twice, slugged a two-out, two-run triple. He trotted home on Shelley Duncan's base hit.

Jason Brown added a bases-loaded triple in the ninth for Trenton (69-54), which pounded out 12 hits in support of Clippard.

Harrisburg (57-66) starter Justin Echols (5-8) allowed three runs on six hits, struck out seven and walked three over 4 2/3 innings.

Aside from White, highly touted prospect Phil Hughes also flirted with a no-hitter for Trenton on June 23. He held the Connecticut Defenders hitless until Derin McMains led off the eighth with a double.

Justin Duchscherer had come closest to the Thunder's first no-hitter. On May 11, 2001, he held the New Haven Ravens without a hit for 8 2/3 innings.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:23 PM 0 Heckles

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yankees - Red Sox Five Games in Four Days

From Bunker Hill to Faneuil Hall, the shouts of wary Red Sox Nationalists sound the alarm. "The Bombers are coming! The Bombers are coming!"
Not only that, but they'll stay awhile.

Although the five-game series kicking off Friday afternoon at Fenway Park between the Yankees and the Red Sox comes with pivotal undertones, this isn't quite the American League East apocalypse.

With New York arriving a game and a half up following its 12-2 loss Thursday afternoon to the Orioles, Boston would have to score a decisive 4-1 series win for there to be a change on top. And only a Yankees sweep would seriously dent the race; even with four wins, they'd move on with a bridgeable 4 1/2-game lead.

The last time the teams waged a five-game series in Boston -- July 1959 -- the Red Sox did the sweeping. In fact, they also ruled the most recent quintet between the teams, taking four in Yankee Stadium in July 1973.

That said, this series can set the tempo and mood for the season's remaining six weeks -- which will include another apocalyptic four-game get-together in the Bronx from Sept. 15-17.

New York's Joe Torre managed Thursday's game with this series in mind, sacrificing some bullpen arms in the blowout and pulling some regulars early.

Boston exhaled Wednesday after its 6-4 victory over Detroit saved the Red Sox from showing up at the wrong end of a sweep.

"We've got a lot of baseball left," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We've got a chance, and if we play good baseball, we've got a chance to make a move on the team that's ahead of us."

Make a move is what the Sox did on Thursday -- adding Eric Hinske, Toronto's former American League Rookie of the Year, who matches up well with the Bombers' staff. Even this season, while losing a prominent role with the Blue Jays, Hinske is hitting .368 against the Yankees, with two homers and five RBIs.

Fans presumably are loading up on the chips, drinks and oxygen tanks for this rivalry-palooza, which arrives with enough angles to thrill a geometry professor.

New faces, old nemeses, pitching matchups perfect for the prime-time marquee.

"I've heard there is a lot of tension, a lot of energy between [these teams]. I'm looking forward to seeing it," said one of the Boston newcomers, Javy Lopez, who keeps picking fights with New York.

As an Atlanta Braves mainstay for a dozen years, Lopez got into it with the Mets. He doesn't expect his first Yankees weekend to disappoint him: "Playing the Yankees, everyone is pumped up. I'm going to have a chance to experience it."

The two nationally televised segments line up as aces' duels. Saturday afternoon on FOX, Randy Johnson takes on Josh Beckett in a meeting of 13-game winners. Sunday night, ESPN will spotlight Mike Mussina against Curt Schilling.

Before and after, Torre and Francona will think of something. They have all season, scheming, with the aid of their general managers, to keep the clubs in their customary positions.

The Yankees and Red Sox have been vulnerable, yet immovable. As has been their entire division -- returning to its familiar standing, 1998 through 2004.

Both teams have their unique assets -- Boston, defense and a feared two-headed offensive monster; New York, bullpen and the mentality to disrespect any deficit -- but share the same best quality.

Resourcefulness. They both have had to be creative to so impressively dodge the calamity invited by injuries. Both have persevered despite far less production than expected from significant quarters.

Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement and David Wells have made a total of 37 starts for the Red Sox, who have also had to be without projected closer Keith Foulke. And the Yankees, of course, got only 242 combined at-bats from Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield before their injuries.

Boston, however, is the only one which lost its captain. While Derek Jeter contends for a batting crown, the Red Sox have been reeling since Jason Varitek tore cartilage in his left knee.

Doug Mirabelli can call a good game, and Lopez's bat is starting to make noise. But the composite still doesn't equal a Varitek, without whom the Red Sox are 6-9.

Yet -- here they both are. Another late-summer clash with first place at stake. In fact, considering all that has gone down in the intervening 10 weeks, it is flabbergasting how little has changed since they last met.

Following Boston's 9-3 victory at Yankee Stadium on June 8, they went their separate ways with the Bombers (35-23) a half-game ahead of the Red Sox (34-23).

They have each won 35 during their separate vacations, the growth in New York's lead attributable to two fewer losses.

While the Yankees' Brian Cashman was more proactive at the non-waiver trading deadline, landing outfielder Bobby Abreu and right-hander Cory Lidle in a deal with the Phillies and Craig Wilson from the Pirates, both teams have dealt with their crises with unusual patience.

Boston general manager Theo Epstein's gamble that his incumbent horses can pull the load was dramatized by developments in late June. While Roger Clemens, at one point rumored headed back to Boston, prepared to rejoin Houston and A.J. Burnett rejoined Toronto, Epstein added a guy (Jason Johnson) who was 1-8 in his last 10 starts.

Epstein had a chance to do much more, but chose to protect the club's future, even at the possible expense of the present.

Johnson, still winless in five starts for the Red Sox, now will launch this series, meeting Chien-Ming Wang on Friday afternoon. Sidney Ponson takes on Jon Lester in the 8:05 pm ET nightcap of the first day-night doubleheader in Boston between these teams since July 31, 1976.

The Red Sox swept that bicentennial twin bill. But all the brooms figure to stay in the closet this weekend. Given their recent history, these teams will probably find a way to split five games.

They've split 10 so far this season. Including their two memorable postseason series, they have played 81 times since the start of the 2003 season and Boston has the slimmest (41-40) edge.

That balance has endured throughout countless changes in the casts. Because Boston and New York, the cities and their citizens, always have the lead.

If you are a fan, seeing these games is as good as it gets.

If you are a player, it gets better, because you get to feel them.

"I've heard it's exciting," Abreu said. "You want to be involved in that. It's an opportunity that may not come often."

Or, come five times in 75 hours. Check the snacks, the fridge and the indoor plumbing.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:09 PM 0 Heckles

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Travis Hafner Ties Mattingly's Slam Mark

In 1987, a person by the name of Don Mattingly, otherwise known as Donnie Baseball, set a record that was never to be.
He hit six grand slams in one season, which comes to a surprise since Mattingly was never a power hitter.

In 2006, a person by the name of Travis Hafner tied Mattingly's record when he hit his sixth grand slam of the season on August 13.
This comes to no surprise since he also set a record for most grand slams by the all-star break with five.

Mattingly's record was also threatened a couple years ago along with another famous Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig.
A fellow named Manny Ramirez was not only three slams away from tying Mattingly, but also was three slams away from tying Gehrigs all-time slam record of 23.
However, Ramirez did not tie the records, and both are still intact.
Hafner does have the potential to break Mattinglys record, but is far away from Gehrig, so at the moment, his record is safe.

For a player to hit six grand slams and that to be considered a record with today's increased home run totals, it seems easy to shatter the record. But it's not.
In order to hit a grand slam, every scenario must be perfectly played out. The bases need to be loaded, which is hard to do in the first place. A sac fly, error, or even a base hit can ruin any chance of a bases loaded opportunity.
The batter must make make contact with the perfect pitch over the right part of the plate with the right amount of strength. It even depends on the field, Coors Field for example, is a hitters park, where as Miller Park is more of a pitcher's park. Yankee Stadium has a short right field porch, Fenway Park has the Green Monster and The Triangle.
So to hit a grandslam, the bases need to be loaded, the batter needs to be alert, and everything has to be perfect.

Mattingly will never again make his attempt to break his record, since he is retired. Hafner, well, he has the rest of August, all of September, and three games in October. It took him one month to hit his sixth slam, he still has 7 weeks left to hit another.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 11:42 AM 2 Heckles

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yankee Stadium III to Break Ground

It won't be until 2009 when the Yankees will first play in the new Yankee Stadium. But they'll take their first step on Wednesday morning, culminating years of planning.
The Yankees will break ground just across the street from the current Yankee Stadium, in Macombs Dam Park, at 10 a.m. ET, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony.

The date, Aug. 16, is already significant in Yankees history because it's the same day Babe Ruth died 58 years ago. But it will undoubtedly be remembered for more as of Wednesday.

The $800 million project will replace the third-oldest park in baseball and is part of a larger plan to revitalize the Bronx.

"We decided we want to stay in the Bronx. We want to do the job here," Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner said when the stadium's plans were unveiled more than a year ago. "We wanted to do something for the people who've always supported this team."

The new Yankee Stadium will have 51,000 seats and will be completely paid for and maintained by the Yankees organization. New York City previously covered maintenance costs. The city will contribute $205 million to build 28 acres of recreational facilities around the stadium and build new public structures, including improved access for cars and trains.

The new Yankee Stadium was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), which also crafted such retro stadiums as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Minute Maid Park in Houston and PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

While the park will add more luxury suites and wider concourses, it will also keep some of the most sacred aspects of current Yankee Stadium. Monument Park will be relocated and artist renderings showed the familiar white façade will be part of the design.

The new stadium will have the same field dimensions and bullpen placement. It will also include some of the features of the original stadium, which was extensively renovated from 1973-75.

"We lost many of the great characteristics of the original house," Yankees president Randy Levine said when the plans were released. "The new stadium will take us back to our origins. This isn't the end of the legacy, but a continuation."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:00 PM 0 Heckles

Big Unit's Big Achievement

Randy Johnson isn't the same Big Unit he was when he recorded strikeout No. 1 or even No. 4,000. In his mind, the gun-slinging, intimidating strikeout guy is behind him.
So when Johnson notched career strikeout No. 4,500 in the fourth inning in a Yankees 7-2 win Monday against the Angels, he said it was just a bonus to his career, a late tack-on that doesn't say anything about who he is now, just who he was.

"I must have struck out a lot of people somewhere along the line, just not recently," Johnson said. "Today's game was a by-product of what I've done over the majority of my career, and that was started in Seattle and really ended in Arizona."

Johnson remembered other career strikeout milestones such as No. 4,000, which he reached in 2004. Only then he lost. He remembered striking out 19 batters in a game, and again losing.

At this point in his career, it's all about winning, which Johnson has now done in back-to-back starts. He had won just one of five previous starts.

And that's what Johnson said felt better after Monday's game than any landmark. He held the loaded Angels lineup to two runs over seven innings while allowing eight hits and striking out five.

"I don't think it means anything. Should it?" Johnson asked. "I've been around a long time and struck out a lot of batters. That's probably why my arm's pretty tired after I pitch.

"I could not strike out anybody for the rest of my career and I'd be content. Winning ballgames is really how you measure a pitcher, not by strikeouts."

Either way, Johnson has been successful. He now has 276 career wins and is only the third pitcher in Major-League history to record 4,500 strikeouts.

"Randy is a dominant pitcher," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He has been a dominant pitcher for a long, long, long time. Not too many guys of his age -- Nolan Ryan did it -- dominate the game into their 40s. And Roger, of course is doing it."

Ryan (5,714 career K's) and Clemens (4,552) are the only other two pitchers to have more strikeouts than Johnson, who now has 4,503.

After Johnson recorded the strikeout of Tim Salmon with a wicked slider, the crowd chanted his name. He only gave a small wave toward the Yankees dugout. Catcher Jorge Posada came out from behind the plate to stop the game momentarily. Otherwise, Johnson may have just plowed on.

"I went out there and said, 'Congratulations, you've done a hell of a job,'" Posada said. "'You deserve it. You deserve this ovation. Enjoy it.'"

Of course, Johnson ignored the advice, bearing down and retiring the next batter with a runner still on first. Only then did Johnson fully acknowledge the standing ovation before waving to his family sitting behind the backstop.

Posada, who had chemistry issues with Johnson during their first season together, was the first teammate to greet his pitcher with a handshake and a pat on the head.

Salmon couldn't be a better opponent for Johnson to face. Of all active players, he's struck out Salmon the most -- 23 times. Of all players Johnson faced in his career, active and retired, Salmon ranks fifth on Johnson's K list.

But Salmon's latest failures weren't chalked up to the same 6-foot-10 lefty who had dominated him in the past. This was a new pitcher.

"He's different," Salmon said. "He really pitches now. He has a splitty. He can still be hard in certain situations, but he doesn't come out on every hitter like that. He reminds me of Roger Clemens with that splitty. Now you have to worry about that."

Actually Johnson used five pitches Monday: a splitter, two-seam fastball, slider, changeup and, of course, that hard four-seam fastball.

After all, just because he's a different pitcher at 42 doesn't mean a worse one.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:27 AM 0 Heckles

Monday, August 14, 2006

Yanks Drop Series to Halo's, Division Lead Cut to 1

After a third straight hit and second roller through the infield in the first inning, Jorge Posada walked to the mound and put his arm around Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang.

While Wang's final line -- a career-high 13 hits and five earned runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings -- is unsightly, 12 of those hits were singles. For the most part, Wang looked OK.

But he wasn't as good as Angels rookie Jered Weaver on this day. The Yankees mustered just three hits until there were two outs in the ninth, when Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back solo homers to summon closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Posada flied out to end the comeback try as the Yankees lost, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon and saw their lead in the American League East shrink to one game. The Yankees have lost four of their past six games after winning 10 of their previous 12.

The Yankees are now 2-5 against the Angels this season and 1-2 in the four-game series heading into the finale Monday.

Wang lost his first game since July 3, but he's had back-to-back rough outings. He gave up four earned runs in five innings against the White Sox in his previous start for a no-decision.

Manager Joe Torre said he was surprised when Wang, who had a 1.74 ERA in his first time through the lineup entering the game, allowed three runs in the first inning. But that doesn't mean Torre's worried.

Wang said he felt he pitched better Sunday than in his last start. The lone extra-base hit was a leadoff solo homer by Chone Figgins on Wang's second pitch of the game, a sinker that didn't sink enough.

But the Angels didn't stop there. They followed with a bouncer to Rodriguez that he said he could have made the play on, but it got past the third baseman. It was ruled a single, the first of five in the inning.

Rodriguez could have gotten the second out of the inning when Juan Rivera rounded too far past first base, but in an effort to keep Vladimir Guerrero from scoring from third, A-Rod waited too long to throw the ball to first, allowing Rivera to scamper back.

But despite the misplays and ground-ball hits, the damage could have been much worse. The first out came when Guerrero hit a chopper in front of the plate. Wang flipped the ball home to get an out, and Posada applied the tag with the ball rolling around in his catcher's mask.

The Angels followed with three more singles to load the bases before Wang induced his specialty, a ground-ball double play, to end the inning with the Angels ahead 3-0.

Weaver improved to 8-0 in his rookie season with six brilliant innings. Despite a fastball that only hits the high 80s, Weaver struck out eight batters and allowed just three hits and one run.

The Yankees have struggled to figure out rookie starters all season. First-year hurlers now have a combined 3.73 ERA and 7-5 record against the Yanks this year.

The only three hits Weaver allowed were a homer by Craig Wilson in the fifth, an opposite-shift tap by Giambi and a single up the middle by Jeter. Even after Weaver exited, the Yankees didn't get another hit until A-Rod's homer with two outs in the ninth.

Wang, who missed 52 games from July 13 through Sept. 6 last season with shoulder inflammation, said he feels fine physically. Wang entered the game having pitched the sixth-most innings in the American League.

Wang was lifted in the sixth after giving up his third single of the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Ron Villone struck out Orlando Cabrera swinging and got a flyout from Guerrero to end the threat and keep the Yankees behind 5-1.

But the Angels' bullpen was solid once again, despite the back-to-back homers.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:30 AM 0 Heckles

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

No-No Nearly Ends in Disaster

Mariano Rivera walked off the mound dejected on Tuesday night after suffering his third blown save of the season. Wednesday, he got his redemption, chalking up a four-out save to rescue the Yankees from what would have been a devastating loss.
The Yankees escaped with a 7-6 victory over the White Sox, as a game which saw the Yankees leading by seven runs and Randy Johnson flirting with history before turning into a nail-biter after Kyle Farnsworth melted down in the eighth inning.

Johnson toyed with his third career no-hitter, taking the gem into the seventh inning before Tadahito Iguchi ended the bid with a single. Still, Johnson earned his 12th win of the season and 275th of his career with six innings of two-run ball, assuring New York of a winning record this season against the defending World Series champions.

Johnny Damon led off the game with a triple to center, scoring on Bobby Abreu's RBI single to give the Yankees a quick lead. Damon felt some soreness in his right groin after legging out the triple, leaving the game in the fourth inning.

Jon Garland survived a leadoff double by Robinson Cano in the second, retiring the next three batters to strand him at third base. Garland sat the Yanks down in order in the third and stranded a pair of runners in the fourth, holding the lead at 1-0.

Not that it mattered to Johnson, who breezed through Chicago's lineup, sitting down the first five hitters before issuing a two-out walk to Joe Crede. Johnson struck out A.J. Pierzynski for the third out, his third K in the first two frames.

The Yankees padded the lead in the fifth with three runs, getting a solo homer from Melky Cabrera (his sixth) and a two-run shot from Abreu, his ninth of the year and first as a Yankee. Abreu's home run snapped a streak of 161 homerless at-bats, the longest of his career.

Cano added a solo homer of his own in the sixth, drilling a 2-2 pitch from Garland to straightaway center field to give the Yanks a 5-0 lead.

Johnson, who had thrown 65 pitches through the first five no-hit innings, needed just six pitches to get through the sixth, retiring the side quickly.

The Yankees scored two more runs in the seventh on RBIs by A-Rod and Jorge Posada, giving Johnson a 7-0 lead.

Johnson came back to the mound for the seventh, but Iguchi ended the no-hitter shortly thereafter, lacing an 0-2 pitch through the hole at shortstop. Johnson then walked Thome and served up a ground-rule double to Konerko, scoring one run. Jermaine Dye hit a double off the top of the right-field wall, scoring another run to make it a 7-2 game.

That was enough for Joe Torre, who removed Johnson from the game in favor of Ron Villone, who loaded the bases by walking Crede. But Villone got the next two hitters to pop up to first base, then retired Brian Anderson on a fly out to left, stranding all three runners.

Farnsworth allowed a solo homer by Iguchi in the eighth, then put a pair of runners on base with two outs. Crede blasted a 1-0 pitch into the center-field seats, cutting the lead to 7-6 with his 25th homer.

Torre called on Rivera for the four-out save, one night after the closer suffered his third blown save of the season. Rivera got Pierzynski out with two pitches, then threw a scoreless ninth, closing out the win for his 29th save.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 11:17 PM 0 Heckles

A-Rod, Love Him or Hate Him

It's a sunny Monday afternoon in July, hours before game time, in New York's Central Park, and Alex Rodriguez is soaking up some rays. Shirt off, leaning against a rock, laughing and talking with his wife, Cynthia, playing in the grass with his young daughter, Natasha. It must be a sweet moment for them, kissed by the sun and the breeze, alone and together.

But we don't see it like that. We see it as a distracted prelude to three errors the same night against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jay Greenbergs (New York Post columnist) among us see it as "an unnecessary ultraviolet broil" that leaves him unprepared to do his job, reminding us more of "well-heeled idiots in [a] beer commercial" than superstar third basemen. The Selena Robertses (New York Times columnist) among us see it as preening, a guy "perfectly coifed … flaunting pecs and abs as if awaiting an Abercrombie & Fitch talent scout." We see it as a moment to pounce.

This is how we do A-Rod.

He goes 3-for-10 as the A's sweep a weekend trip to the Bronx in June, and we call in to Michael Kay's radio show, saying he's not clutch, saying he's no Reggie, no Paul O'Neill. And the particularly agitated among us say he's no better than Danny Tartabull, a high-priced free agent who hit .252 in three-plus years with the Yankees in the mid-'90s.

Tartabull hit 262 home runs, and Alex has 452 at age 31. Rodriguez's career OPS is nearly one hundred points higher. He's the defending AL MVP. He's going to the Hall of Fame, and the other guy is fading into obscurity. The comparison is insane.

But this is how we do A-Rod.

He hits a come-from-behind grand slam and tops it with a single and a three-run jack in a 16-7 pasting of the Mets in early July, and the crowd at Yankee Stadium gives him a standing ovation, calls him out of the dugout for a tip of the cap after each home run.

But at the end of the night, after he grounds out to short in his last at-bat, Sean and Mike, two 30-something lifelong Yankee fans, stand in the concourse near the beer stand and tell me, Yeah, we get how good he is. We know we need him. But still, man, you have to admit, for a so-called great player, he f---ing sucks. To be honest with you, we f---ing hate him.

And this is how we do A-Rod.

How Do You Feel?

The boobirds have flocked to Alex Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium this season, but is that indicative of how all of SportsNation feels about No. 13? Register your vote as we take SN's temperature on A-Rod.We call him a choker and a poseur. We call for the Yankees to trade him. We beat him about the head with Jeter Sticks and Papi Clubs. We tease his look. We hyperparse his words. We downplay his every success, boo his every pop-up, and hiss his every miscue. "I've never seen a player this good this vilified," says Kay, who also broadcasts Yankee games for the YES network. "It's amazing to me."

We've all heard the standard reasons — resentment over his $252 million contract, envy of his talent, frustration that he doesn't exceed all our wildest expectations, a selective-memory perception that he's no good in the clutch and, of course, the fact that he's not Derek Jeter. All these explanations have validity, no doubt, but they don't fully explain the giddy, sometimes irrational, intensity of this thing we do. They don't get at the bile and the vitriol.

There's something more at work here. Rodriguez has had an ugly summer by his standards, but it ain't about that. It's about this, first, last and always: We think A-Rod's soft. We don't think he's tough enough to be our guy. We think he's weak.

We're not talking about the buddy-can-you-spare-a-dime, meek-shall-inherit-the-earth weak to which we routinely show charity. We're talking about the vulnerable, soft-underbelly sort of weak for which we in this "¿Quien es mas macho?" culture of American sport so often show contempt.

Part of it is on-the-surface, clichéd, stereotyped stuff. He's pretty like a model in a magazine, complete with pouty lips and brooding eyes. His swing, for all its oomph, is a long, delicate stem of a lily. He sees a psychiatrist … and talks about it. He has a life coach who sends him daily affirmations. He goes to art museums to gaze at the great works … and talks about that, too.

Some of it is on the field. Eighteen errors through 109 games this season, and some of them coming in jittery Knoblauchian bunches. An anemic .200 batting average in close-and-late situations so far in 2006.

Some of it is embedded in history. The undisputed iconic heart of the perception is the left-handed slap he made at the ball in Bronson Arroyo's glove, coming down the first baseline in Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Curt Schilling called it a "bush league" play, and digitally altered pictures of A-Rod with a purse dangling from his wrist appeared on the Internet almost overnight. On the biggest stage of his playing life, Alex Rodriguez, AL MVP, became Smacky McBluelips, handbag-toting girly-man.

"It's ridiculous, but that play defines him in a lot of people's minds," says Alex Belth, author of the Yankee blog Bronx Banter. "It's become this monster, this thing that feeds on itself and will never die."

The slap — what he did do — is a kind of marker, too, for what he didn't do in the last four games of the ALCS, which is hit. At all (2-for-17 in the last four games). Clutch or otherwise. When the Yankees collapsed after being up 3-0 in the series, the slap, in all its perceived limp-wristedness, symbolized the soft hearts of the losers in contrast to the lionhearted history makers from Boston.

The real roots of the feeling are deeper, though. In the batting cage before his big game against the Mets on July 2, Rodriguez cracks balls to left and center. His swing has a long, level grace about it, but standing just feet from the cage you realize there is a genuine violence in it, too. The boom off his bat is merciless, instinctive, the bolt of a god.

Minutes later, standing in the hallway outside the Yankees' clubhouse, Rodriguez talks to reporters who've gathered at the news of his selection to the American League All-Star team. Someone asks whether he's surprised to have been voted to start on the team after all the booing he has been hearing this season.

"The whole world is not New York. There are some people out there who like me," he says. "You [writers] don't always help, but there are some people out there who like me." His delivery is curt. There's a flash of spite in his eyes. You halfway expect him to put his hands on his hips and stomp his feet. You don't see a hero or a god so much as a kid whose feelings are hurt. The disjunction between the cage and the comment is startling, but not unprecedented.

Back in May, coming off a frustrating series with Boston, Rodriguez spoke about his longing for acceptance: "We can win three World Series and with me it's never going to be over. My benchmark is so high that no matter what I do, it's never going to be enough." You can see, even from a distance, the mark the boos and the criticisms have left. "It hurts him," Yankees manager Joe Torre says. "He's a sensitive guy."

"Sensitive" isn't a word you hear in reference to ballplayers all that often — R&B singers are sensitive, dancers are sensitive; ballplayers are "nails," "stones," "guts" — but it's a firmly entrenched part of the A-Rod discourse. As his troubles at the plate and in the field have mounted this summer, it has become codified, definitive, a constitutional quality at the root of his failings. He feels too much. He cares too much. He strikes out four times in a game — the pressure is getting to him. He throws another groundball away — he's deep in his head.

In an unguarded moment in late June, Rodriguez actually told the New York media he was "trying way too hard" and admitted boos from the home crowd were getting to him "a little bit" (a couple of soft-flesh-beneath-the-turtle-shell moments he wishes he could have back, no doubt). But it doesn't even matter whether the "sensitive" tag is at all legit. What matters is that, in our eyes, he wears it. In everything he does.

We also key on what appears to be a constant calculation on A-Rod's part, about what to say, with whom, when and where. In late June, with the Yankees down a run in the 12th inning against Atlanta, he stands in against Jorge Sosa, with Jason Giambi on first, and goes yard for the win. The crowd goes wild, A-Rod throws his helmet in the air and takes a slow trot around the bases. Finally, a walk-off. Finally, a David Ortiz moment — if you look closely at the footage, you can see the monkey tumbling ass-over-teakettle off Rodriguez's back. He's happy. His teammates are happy. The fans are happy. Everyone's feeling good. But in the postgame interview, he gums things up a bit.

"I know the boys are waiting on me, and the boys know what I can do," he says. "And it was like, 'Finally, I picked the boys up.'"

If you're scoring at home, that's three "the boys" in the space of 26 words and two sentences. And who says "the boys," anyway? Kid Gleason says "the boys" in "Eight Men Out," I think. Maybe in "Bull Durham" someone says "the boys," but if anyone does, he doesn't mean it. Nobody says "the boys." The line sounds forced, scripted, a nod toward a kind of camaraderie that seems not to exist between him and his teammates anyway. It's as if he's playing a scene from a film, as if he has thought ahead of time about what he'll say when he finally hits a walk-off, as if this is what you're supposed to say when you and "the boys" are jubilant.

"He has kind of an Eddie Haskell public persona," says Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Art Thiel, a press-box regular during A-Rod's seven seasons with the Mariners. "He always appears to say and do what he thinks the audience in front of him wants."

In spring training this year, perhaps consciously working against the perception that he's too polished, Rodriguez began dropping F-bombs and generally cussing more in conversations and interviews with beat writers. "It was out of nowhere," says Peter Abraham of The Journal News in suburban New York. "It sounded weird, like it wasn't even him." Rodriguez isn't being devious or malicious in such moments, but he's shape-shifting, like campaign-trail Bill Clinton, and we begin to wonder who the real guy is, and whether there's a core that defines him.

"I think he thinks his success is predicated on self-control, on physical self-control," says Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and ESPN Radio. "But it means he acts — in what he says, in the gestures he makes when he hits a home run or a double, like a ballet dancer trying to memorize his steps. He aims to please. He never just lets it wail."

More than the idea of his fat contract (only half of his yearly salary is paid by the Yankees; they pay significantly more for Jeter); more than the idea that he can't win (big-ticket teammates Giambi and Mike Mussina have never won it all, either); and more than the idea that he doesn't produce in crunch time (he literally carried the Yankees in the 2004 division series against the Twins, hitting .421/.476/.737), it's this perception of A-Rod as someone vulnerable to his own feelings and as someone deeply concerned about the opinions of others that rankles us. To borrow a line from Willie Nelson, our heroes have always been cowboys: Jeter, the plainspoken stalwart who never shrinks from the moment; Ortiz, the self-possessed lover of life who relishes high-stakes at-bats. We can digest these guys, can admire them in a romantic, uncomplicated way. They seem to make no demands on us at all. Their identities, their roles in our imagination appear fixed, clear and consistent.

A-Rod, on the other hand, comes off as this odd blend of superstar talent and confidence, packaged with common-guy uncertainty and instability. He's someone we have to think about. What makes him tick? How's he holding up? Is being in the fishbowl getting to him? Someone we have to engage on a kind of basic human level.

"It's complicated with A-Rod," says Steven Goldman, author of the Pinstriped Bible at YesNetwork.com. "It's about us, too — writers, fans, whomever — about how we respond to him. Can we accept him; can we empathize with the possibility that he has weaknesses just like any of us? Or do we reject him? Do we make fun of him and distance ourselves from him? It's like an after-school special almost."

Everyone says, "It's hard to have sympathy for a guy making $252 million." We struggle to see ourselves in someone so wealthy and so talent-rich. The guy is so good, and at such a young age, that we literally have no analogs for him in our experience. We don't relate. He strikes us as robotic, as impossibly skilled. We can't sympathize. But empathy is a different impulse.

Empathy means stepping outside ourselves and our conventions. We don't really know what kind of stress A-Rod feels, but empathy would have us wonder. Empathy would have us thinking about how "sensitive" might be the flip side of "passionate." Empathy also could mean imagining how opening up to the media, or being vulnerable to the people, wouldn't be the easiest thing in the world for a guy who has been under the microscope since he was a teenage kid growing up in Miami without a father. It would mean being emotionally entangled, responsible even.

Most of us reject that prospect. We run from it. We prefer the simple, familiar mechanics of winners and losers, heroes and villains, guys who have it and guys who don't. We say it's all about the rings. We say, as if we have no weaknesses ourselves, as if we've never shrunk from anything in our personal or professional lives, "suck it up" and "be a man." We demonize, then exile the "weak" guy. We treat him as if his sensitivities were contagious, as if he had cooties.

Once that die is cast and he's outside the realm of empathy, we can have our way with him, even if the way we do him seems wildly out of whack with his performance.

"He's held to an impossibly high standard," Kay says. "I really believe they expect him to get a hit every time up. The guy gets his temperature taken every single at-bat."

And he's found wanting. Every single time. Every single time he collects a check. Every single time Jeter makes a play or Papi goes deep. And every single time he takes his shirt off in the park. It's all fair game.

What's often lost in this game is the fact the guy is ridiculously good. Once-in-a-generation good. "He can only be compared with some of the best infielders in baseball history," Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan says. "We're talking about someone who's already one of the top 25 players ever, and who will probably end up as one of the 10 best."

Will we ever come around to him? A world championship ring or some dramatic October heroics would go a long way, no doubt. We've seen big-time transformations in the past. Before winning his first Wimbledon, Andre Agassi was an image-conscious punk. Until the Bulls beat the Lakers in '91, Michael Jordan was a me-first highlight reel who didn't make the players around him better. Not until his Masters victory in 2004 did Phil Mickelson begin to shed his reputation as an empty talent who couldn't handle the big moment. Before his back-to-back Super Bowl titles, John Elway was a gunslinger who couldn't truly lead.

But although a ring would put A-Rod in a familiar category, the more interesting, and more likely scenario (the Yankees are an aging, pitching-weak team) is that things continue on the track they're on now. He's only 31, and we've had Bonds and Clemens to concentrate on these past 10 years, but if A-Rod stays healthy and productive in the years to come, it will become increasingly clear that he is hands-down the best player in the game, and is very likely the best all-around player any of us will ever have the privilege to see in person. Even without a title. Even with what we think is a sensitive heart. Even with what we perceive to be a scripted tongue.

As he makes his way toward some of the all-time records, will we soften our A-Rod stance and expand the register of what we can connect with, express empathy for? Or will we hold to the old tough-guy standards and keep doing him the way we do?

It's on us, not him, from here on out.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 1:49 PM 0 Heckles

Yankees Minor League Suspended for Steroids

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that New York Yankees Minor League player Daniel McCutchen has been suspended for 50 games, effective immediately, for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 1:31 PM 0 Heckles

Monday, August 07, 2006

Yankees DO NOT "Buy" Championships

This is a direct cut and copy post from the book Emperors and Idiots pg. 228:

"If spending the most money guaranteed you anything, then we wouldn't all be nervous wrecks every year in October, would we?" Cashman said later in the 2004 season. "All you have to do is look at the recent past. Look at how much money the Dodgers have spent; how many championships do they have? Look at the Mets; how many championships do they have? When the Orioles had a huge payroll, why didn't every story mention that? And it isn't like the Red Sox are playing with a bunch of underpaid players, right? But all people want to talk about the Yankees is how much money we spend. I don't understand the relevance. You still have to win on the field."
What the Yankees top brass never admitted - what was probably too difficult to concede - was that the best Yankees teams of recent vintage were rarely critized for their fiscal munificence. Those Yankees teams, who won four championships in the five years spanning 1996 to 2000, were powered by players who'd been acquired, in almost every instance, by traditional means, by time-tested baseball methods approved by people who believed in old-fashioned baseball values.
There was a home-grown core of players who'd come up through the Yankees farm system - Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera. There were key players who'd arrived through trades - Paul O'Neill, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Roger Clemens, Tino Martinez. There were some key deadline acquisitions - Cecil Fielder, David Justice, David Cone. There were fruits of the Yankees' growing international presence - Alfonso Soriano, Orlando Hernandez, Hideki Irabu. And there were several key free-agent imports too, notably Wade Boggs, Jimmy Key, and David Wells. Yes, as the Yankees won more and more titles, their payroll swelled accordingly, and by the time the Yankees knocked off the Mets in the 2000 World Series, they were paying out $113 million in player salaries. But even their most ardent critics had little argument with this. Essentially, the Yankees were rewarding players who'd already won for them. They were taking care of their own. They hadn't gotten where they'd gotten by gobbling up every glitzy star on the board.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:23 PM 2 Heckles

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Yanks Extend Lead with HRs

Before the Yankees boarded their charter flight Sunday night, they did some flying of a different kind during the afternoon. Four different players hit solo home runs against Rodrigo Lopez, tying a season high for the team.
Those long balls, combined with a solid outing by Jaret Wright, gave the Yankees a 6-1 win in the series finale. New York has won 10 of its last 12 games, and the Bombers extended their first place lead to two games over the Red Sox in the American League East.

A day after being limited to one hit, the Yankees' bats awoke Sunday. They collected six runs on 12 hits, scoring at least five runs for the 13th time in the last 14 games. Seven of the nine starters had a hit.

Derek Jeter homered to right-center field in the first inning, giving the Yankees an early lead. Johnny Damon added a solo shot in the third, and Melky Cabrera homered to lead off the next inning. With two outs in the fifth, Jason Giambi hit his 32nd long ball of the season to deep right-center.

Both Bobby Abreu and Giambi collected three hits. Abreu stole two bases, drove in a run and scored on a double off the right-field wall by Giambi in the third inning.

Since joining the Yankees last weekend, Abreu is 10-for-25 (.400) with one RBI and four runs scored. He's also walked twice and connected for two doubles in six games. Abreu -- who has not homered in 157 at-bats, the longest streak of his career -- said he's been working with hitting coach Don Mattingly on trying to hit the ball up the middle and to left field.

Wright turned in his second consecutive good outing, giving up one run on five hits in six innings. He has yet to pitch more than six innings in any of his 19 starts, but has won four of his last five decisions, posting a 3.86 ERA over that span. Wright has not given up a homer in his last nine starts, a career best.

The Orioles put the leadoff man on in the first four innings against Wright, including doubles to start the first and second frames. After sacrifice bunts in each of those innings, Wright avoided further damage, as the O's stranded men at third base in each of the first three innings.

Wright tied a season high by issuing four walks, but none of those batters scored. He retired the final four hitters he faced before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Wright credited catcher Sal Fasano with helping him get out of the jams throughout the afternoon, saying Fasano was thinking ahead about how he wanted to set up batters. It was the first time Wright had worked with Fasano, who was acquired from the Phillies on July 26.

Scott Proctor, who leads the AL in appearances, gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Mariano Rivera came in to finish the eighth inning and pitched a flawless ninth, picking up his 28th save.

The Yankees have won six of nine against Baltimore this season, and still face the Orioles 10 more times this season. New York is 26-16 against its own division.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:55 PM 0 Heckles

Friday, August 04, 2006

Phillies Lead Yanks to Sweep

After Cory Lidle retired the first three batters he faced on weak choppers in the infield, including two to himself, it seemed as if the Yankees finally could take a deep breath.
Four months and four pitchers into the season, they may have found their No. 5 starter.

Lidle allowed one run in just six innings, leading the Yankees to an 8-1 win against the Blue Jays on Thursday in his pinstripes debut.

New York swept Toronto and has now won eight of its past nine games. The victory assured that the Yanks would be in first place in the American League East heading into a six-game road trip.

A day before his Yankees debut, Lidle said he didn't have any additional nerves and that he didn't expect any. Now with his seventh Major League team, the 34-year-old veteran is used to debuts.

The temperature reached 100 degrees during the game and, according to Torre, was the only thing that kept Lidle from going eight or even nine innings.

The Yankees traded for Lidle on Sunday in a deal that also included right fielder Bobby Abreu. After leaving the Phillies, Lidle commented that "it was almost a coin flip as to knowing if the guys behind me were going to be there," enraging some of his former teammates.

One of those teammates, left-handed setup man Arthur Rhodes, fired back, telling the New York Post that all Lidle would do after starts was "sit in the clubhouse and eat ice cream."

So after a hard day's work in the blistering heat, six anonymously-placed ice cream bars awaited Lidle when he came to the clubhouse -- one for each inning.

As far as the comments, Lidle said that's all behind him.

Lidle allowed only one hit through his first four innings and ran into trouble just once.

With two outs in the fifth, Toronto's Ryan Roberts got both his first career hit and homer with a shot that bounced off the top of the left-center-field wall. Reed Johnson followed with a double and Lidle walked Frank Catalanotto on five pitches. But Lidle escaped further trouble by getting Vernon Wells to ground out.

The Yankees' offense once again battered the Blue Jays' pitchers. They knocked out Toronto's starter before the sixth in each game of the series and chased Shaun Marcum after 2 2/3 innings in the finale.

In the first inning, Derek Jeter extended his hit streak to 12 games with a single, Alex Rodriguez walked and Giambi belted homer No. 31 to right-center to give the Yankees an early 3-0 lead.

The Yankees had plenty of men reach base. They had nine hits and walked six times. Abreu went 3-for-5 with a double in the No. 3 spot, galvanizing a two-run fifth and three-run sixth.

Lidle called himself a "slow and slower" kind of pitcher before Thursday's start. He used a mid- to high-80 mph fastball and curveball that dropped as low as 70 mph. His splitter is what catcher Sal Fasano said notched five strikeouts.

After the revolving door at the bottom of the rotation, a different style is just what the Yankees needed.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:55 AM 1 Heckles

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wang Pitches Yankees to Division Lead

At times this season, the Yankees' lineup has had weak spots where pitchers could count on some easy outs. With the acquisitions of Bobby Abreu and Craig Wilson, that appears to be a thing of the past.
The Yankees beat Toronto, 7-2, on Wednesday behind their sluggers and starter Chien-Ming Wang. The 2-5 hitters were a combined 11-for-22 with six RBIs, and every starter reached base at least once.

The Yankees have won seven of their last eight games and will go for a sweep of the Blue Jays on Thursday. They are a still in first place in the American League East.

Wang was again dazzling, despite getting into early trouble. Wang improved to 13-4 after tossing eight scoreless innings while allowing just four hits. After a tough second inning in which he uncharacteristically walked three batters, Wang retired 17 of the next 20 batters he faced.

After going 0-for-3 in his Yankees debut, Abreu had a single and double in his first two at-bats in his second game. Wilson went 2-for-4.

Derek Jeter started the Yankees' offense with his eighth homer of the season, a shot into the first row in right-center field in the third.

Alex Rodriguez led off the sixth with a double in which it looked like he was going to be tagged out at second only to pull his left hand back and reach around with his right. Jorge Posada followed with a deep homer to left field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

The Yankees batted around in the inning, further rouging up Jays starter Ted Lilly, then relievers Dustin McGowan and Scott Downs. Rodriguez capped off the six-run inning with a two-run single past the diving John McDonald, while Johnny Damon added a bases loaded single.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:24 PM 0 Heckles

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eau de Jeter

Derek Jeter cologne is on the way.

Derek Jeter's cologne will be called Driven.
Avon Products Inc. has signed the New York Yankees shortstop to a deal in which it will create a men's fragrance called Driven — "reflecting the unique personality of one of the most driven men in America," according to a news release from the company.

The fragrance, the first in a line of men's grooming products bearing Jeter's name, goes on sale in November.

"I have been very involved with creating this fragrance — everything from the blend of scents to the design of the bottle and logo," Jeter said in the news release. "I did have some help, however. Because women buy a large percentage of the men's grooming products sold in the U.S., I asked my mother Dot and sister Sharlee to be part of the project.
"I wanted to make sure the final product was something men would like to wear — and that women would want them to wear."

The fragrance is a blend of chilled grapefruit, clean oak moss and spice.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 1:57 PM 0 Heckles


Yes, that's right, another chapter in the steroid scandal, but you would never believe who it is.
Yup, I took steroids.
But before you go criticizing me, let me explain.
Yesterday I went an outpatient clinic to see what was wrong with my throat since I had a persistent cough. I checked in and waited for 90 minutes until being seen, snuck in a cigarette in the meantime.
They did many tests on me including a strep swab, mono, blood work, things that never happened to me for a simple throat check.
I wound up with a diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection so they gave me antibodies and some steroids in my ass. The steroid actually was a cortisone shot, but I like calling it steroids.
That afternoon we had the first game of our softball tournament and I played third base, a base in which I am a last resort, usually I play catcher, but they needed me at the hot corner.
I surprised the hell out of everyone and me.
The first play of the day was a routine grounder that I fielded cleanly and made an off-balance throw to first for the first out of the game; that set the tone. I made many other plays though out the game except for one ball that took an odd hop.
The steroids never made an impact on my swing as I went 2-4 with two base hits, and RBI and a run scored.
The game wound up going into extra innings when we were down by two runs in the ninth.
We staged a two out rally and I was on deck when the winning hit came in. I'll get my chance.
We advance to the second round of the playoffs with a game tonight. Three wins away from a championship that was robbed from us last year. We had an undefeated season until we were upset and the first team eliminated.
Now I can officially say that I played the game juiced!

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:29 AM 0 Heckles


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