Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
September 30, 2006: Toronto 6, N.Y. Yankees 5
Okay, the Yankees do have something left to play for. Some of them, anyway. There are still individual stats at stake. Jeter and Cano are chasing Mauer for the batting title. And Torre really wants Jeter to get 100 RBIs.
So the lineup was a little different today. Cano was batting 2nd, to give him as many chances to improve his batting average as possible. And Jeter was batting 3rd, so he could get RBIs.
It didn't quite work out as anticipated. Cano, because he has relatively few at-bats (due to his long stint on the DL), was seen as having the best chance to catch Mauer. But he went 1 for 4, lowering his average rather than raising it. Jeter, OTOH, went 3 for 3. He passed Cano, and is nipping at Mauer's heels. (Mauer went 0 for 4 yesterday, and didn't play today.) But despite his hot hitting, Jeter got no RBIs today.
My guess is that Mauer will play tomorrow, and will get hits. (The Twinkies face former Yankee Javier Vasquez.) I think he'll win the batting title. But never count Jeter out.
Poor Jeff Karstens pitched decently, but didn't get a win. He handed a 4-2 lead to the bullpen in the seventh inning, and watched them give up three runs and the lead without getting a single out. (Myers and Beam were the culprits. The next inning, Villone gave up another run.)
Mo was money in the 9th, but Jays' closer, BJ Ryan, was even better. The Yanks went down in order, with Melky Cabrera getting the final out.
Melky started in CF for the first time all season. He went 2 for 5, but is still batting only .247 for the month - his lowest since going .213 in a dismal June. He did play the outfield very well. He had one crashing-into-the-wall catch that was very Bubba-like. And showed good range overall.
Andy Phillips had yet another error at 1B. Cashman and Torre obviously see something in him. They think he's their best defensive first baseman. I really don't get it, though. His defensive stats are about the same as Wilson's. Just from watching them all, I'd rather have Guiel. With Sheff set to start at 1B, they need a good defensive first baseman. Andy Phillips is below average on defense. He's hitting .241 and is a terrible baserunner. Seems like we could do better.
Kevin Thompson is so buried on the bench I sometimes wonder if he's still alive. He didn't even get into the game when the scrubs were put in today.
Tomorrow is the last game of the regular season. Should be fun to see who gets to play manager. Mo? Bernie? Probably not Jeter, since he has a batting title to win.
In other news...the team formerly known as the Brooklyn Dodgers clinched a playoff spot tonight. A lot of old timers remember Yankees-Dodgers as a far bigger rivalry than Yankees-Mets. One guy told me that entering Brooklyn wearing Yankees colors would get you beat up, and the same for Brooklyn fans who dared venture to the Bronx.
Many New Yorkers have never forgiven the Dodgers for leaving. Others still root for them, even though they're on the other side of the country now.
So I like the idea of a Yankees-Dodgers series. What a classic that would be.
Though it would also be annoying. The Los Angeles Dodgers are Bubba's old team. The team that drafted him. Damn, it would have been cool if he could play against them in the World Series.
September 29, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 7, Toronto 2
Well, when the dust settled last night, the Yankees had clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They now have nothing left to play for. Until Tuesday, anyway.
This game was a weird mirror image of Moose's last regular season game last year. Unlike last year, when he got the hook in the second inning, he was in fine form last night. He gave up an early home run to Glaus, then buckled down and became a strikeout machine. But like last year, Gary Sheffield came through with a homer in a key spot. His grand slam last year wasn't enough for a win; his three-run homer this year drove a stake in the heart of the Jays.
Bobby Abreu had a very nice catch in the right field corner, running into the wall to make the play. Yes, I said running into the wall. He didn't crash into it full-speed, like Bubba was wont to do, but he didn't shy away from it for once. Maybe all the muttering about that bad play yesterday got to him.
Melky Cabrera is 1 for his last 16. That's .062. It's not easy to hit off the bench, especially for young players.
Before the game, Torre said that Randy Johnson has a herniated disk in his back. But they expect the Unit to make his post-season start. (Oy. I hope Joe has a quick hook ready. I can't forget that horrible rainy Friday night last year.)
September 27, 2005: Baltimore 17, N.Y. Yankees 9
This game was maddening. We were neck and neck with Boston, and really needed the win. It was not to be. Baltimore had nothing left to play for but pride, but they refused to roll over. They quickly touched up Moose for five runs, sending him to an early shower in the 2nd inning.
The Yanks battled back and took the lead, but it was short-lived. Al Leiter, serving as long man out of the pen, gave up three runs. Scott Proctor later gave up four, while recording only one out; Tanyon Sturtze gave up another four.
Bubba started in right field. He went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. He was very solid in the outfield. I particularly liked this play, where he had to chase down a ball that caromed off the scoreboard.
His first at-bat, in the 2nd, he swung at the first pitch and grounded into a fielder's choice. He got to 1B, but Bernie was out at 2B. Jeter moved him over to 2B with a single, but A-Rod struck out to end the inning.
His second at-bat was in the 4th inning. Bernie was on 1B again. Bubba showed good patience at the plate, working a walk in six pitches. Jeter and A-Rod struck out looking, but Giambi also worked a walk, then Gary Sheffield hit a grand slam.
Bubba waits for Sheff, along with Bernie and Giambi.
Bubba's third at-bat came in the 5th. Once again, he swung at the first pitch. He hit it hard, but unfortunately, right at Gomez. Inning-ending lineout.
Bubba walking back down the line after Gomez caught the ball:
I'm not sure what happened to his batting helmet. Maybe he threw it in disgust.
In the 8th inning, with the Yanks down 8-13, Torre decided to pinch-hit for Bubba. He put Ruben Sierra in. You know, the guy who was batting .143 for the month. While Bubba was batting .321. Sierra struck out looking on three pitches. Yeah, Bubba couldn't do that.
All in all, not a great night for the Yankees or Bubba, but it had its moments.
September 28, 2006: Baltimore 7, N.Y. Yankees 1
Daniel Cabrera came within two outs of pitching no-hitter. It was ruined when Robinson Cano hit a single to left field in the 9th. Abreu then grounded into a double play to end the game. The Yankees and their fans celebrated as if they'd won.
At home in the Dominican Republic, Cabrera and Cano live only two minutes apart. Cabrera said Cano's not his friend any more, after he broke up the no-hitter. (He was joking.)
I was almost hoping Cabrera would do it. The game didn't mean that much to the Yanks, and it would have meant so much to the kid to get a no-hitter. In any case, this game was probably a much-needed wakeup call. It would have been easy to start feeling invincible with the killer lineup they have now that Matsui and Sheff are back. Not to mention the way they spanked the Orioles and Rays. But good pitching (and defense) beats good hitting, and a reminder of that before the playoffs is probably a good thing.
I must say, Abreu looked pretty klutzy in RF during the first inning. His wall phobia has reappeared. Either that, or he just misread it. The ball went over his head and bounced off the wall for a double. Bubba would have caught that one.
They showed the Bubba/Brian Roberts collision from last year...two or three times. Ugh. Seems like they show it every series we play the Orioles. I'd be perfectly happy never to see it again. Ditto Matsui breaking his wrist. They aren't quite as gruesome as Joe Theismann's broken leg, but they're bad enough.
September 27, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 16, Baltimore 5
Wang wasn't that sharp last night, but he didn't need to be. Torre put the first-string lineup in. It didn't stay in for long, though. By the end of the 4th inning, the Yankees were up 13-2, and Joe started putting the scrubs in. It was a blowout early, and the Orioles more or less gave up.
Torre has announced his starting rotation for the first round of the playoffs. Wang, Mussina, Johnson. I guess this means Wang is officially our ace.
Futility Infielder has a good analysis of Wang, and of what it takes to win in the post-season. They aren't sure he's ace material. It's an interesting article because it takes the middle road. Most articles about Chien-Ming Wang either gush about what a stud he is, or dismiss him as a flash in the pan.
The article claims that statistical analysis shows that championship teams have three things in common: a good closer, a power pitching staff, and good defense.
Well, we have the good closer.
I'm a big fan of the Wanger. He's probably my favorite Yankee pitcher. He had nine assists in Bubba's walkoff homer game, fer crissakes.
But I do think his getting the #1 spot in the playoff rotaion is as much about how Moose and the Unit have struggled as about how good Tiger is. Which may signal trouble ahead for the Yankees.
With the Yanks' current lineup, it's easy to think they're unbeatable. Especially when they rack up 16 runs for the second time in three days. But they won't be playing Baltimore or Tampa Bay in the post-season. Big bats usually aren't enough to get it done in October. You need good pitching and solid defense, too. I'm not sure the Yankees measure up there.
September 26, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 5, Baltimore 4
And the post-season pitching tryouts continue. Cory Lidle started last night, and everyone knew he was pitching for a post-season start.
He wasn't awful, but he wasn't great, either. The Orioles were flat - already mentally on the golf course, maybe - and the game was still close. Lidle gave up three homers, and was lucky the bases were empty when he did. My gut feeling is that Wright will keep the 4th starter spot.
Proctor closed the game. He almost let it slip away, but after 21 pitches, three hits, and one earned run, did manage to record his first save. Barely. I shudder to think where we'd be without Mariano Rivera. He's the real MVP of the team.
As I expected, Melky was not in the lineup, but came in at the top of the 9th inning as a LIDR for Matsui. Melky is Bubba now.
Today, Torre said both Lidle and Wright would make the post-season. One would be a starter, one would be in the bullpen. So I guess that means no Rasner or Karstens. Sigh.
September 25, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 16, Tampa Bay 1
I think this was the biggest blowout of the year. At least, that the Yanks were on the right side of. Tampa starter Jae Seo had nothing, and they left him out there way too long. The manager, rather than getting a reliever up, got himself ejected for arguing balls and strikes. A coach was ejected, too. I couldn't believe how worked up they got, considering that the game was meaningless to them.
The reason they were so frustrated was a terrific at-bat by Hideki Matsui. He was amazing. He saw fourteen pitches, eventually homering on the last one. Unreal.
Perhaps the most interesting development was that Joe put Melky Cabrera in centerfield in the 6th inning. It was already 12-0, and a lot of scrubs were in. But Joe has never used Melky in CF this season. He tried him in RF for awhile at the beginning of the season, then put him in LF and kept him there. He felt that moving him around would confuse him too much. Even when we could have really used Melky in CF, Joe never moved him there. Until last night.
I suspect this signals the end of Melky's tenure as starting leftfielder. Matsui is scheduled to start in LF tonight, and unless he's really awful, the job will be his again. Melky will take over what used to be Bubba's role: backup outfielder, LIDR, and pinch-runner. This was likely the plan all along, the reason they were willing to let Bubba go.
In other developments...Andy Canizarro hit his first big league home run last night. The game was already a blowout (which is why Cannizaro was playing), so it didn't make a difference in the game. Of course, it was a big deal to young Andy. He did his best to play it cool, but once he got into the dugout, his smile would have powered a small city. And he was carrying the retrieved ball and the lineup card after the game.
It reminded me of Bubba's first homer. That game, too, was a blowout, only the Yanks were down 1-9, rather than being on the winning side. Bubba's hit made it 3-9, but with only two outs left in the game, it really didn't make a difference. Still, Joe said it made his day to see Bubba floating around the bases.
The reaction of the YES announcers was kind of interesting. For Cannizaro, they were talking like his homer was the pinnacle of his career. "Even if he never gets another at-bat, he'll always remember this." While when Bubba hit his home run, they seemed more inclined to think it was just the beginning of his major league career.
Miguel Cairo had a good game as well. He almost hit a home run with bases loaded in the 9th. It stayed in, but was still a bases-clearing double. It's amazing how much better he hits when there are men on.
September 24, 2005: Toronto 7, N.Y. Yankees 4
One year ago today, the Blue Jays played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Jaret Wright was the starting pitcher, but he was ineffective. He also displayed his alarming tendency to attract flying objects. Aaron Small, newly moved to the bullpen, came to the rescue. Sure is handy to have an extra starter in the bullpen with Wright on the mound.
Unfortunately, the Yanks were not able to climb out of the early hole. (Though that wasn't all Wright's fault. Errors by Cano and Matsui put four of Toronto's seven runs on the board.)
The pre-game show featured a short interview with Bubba. Five days after his walkoff homer, they were still talking about it.
There's a video file of the interview here. It's about 14 Mb, WMV format.
Among other things, Bubba says no one had ever given him a chance, until that one month last year.
Bubba was 1 for 2 for the night, with a run scored. His hit was an infield single. It was hit toward the pitcher; he couldn't handle it, and by the time he chased it down, the speedy Bubba was on 1B.
As usual, Bubba got his uniform dirty. Probably on this great play, where he made a terrific diving catch.
(Man, I miss seeing plays like that. We've got some solid outfielders now, but no one who plays with Bubba's spark. Who gets his uniforms quite that dirty.)
Despite his solid performance on offense and defense, Torre decided to pinch-hit for him in the 6th inning. With Ruben Sierra. (Arrggh. Sierra was batting something like .108 for the month, while Bubba was hitting around .340.) Bubba spent the rest of the game on the bench.
(Don't ask me what he's got in his mouth. A huge wad of gum? Sunflower seeds? Not tobacco, I hope.)
As it turned out, Sierra did get a hit. Bubba cheered him from the dugout.
At the end of the day, Bubba's diving catch was chosen Play of the Game.
September 24, 2006: Tampa Bay 11, N.Y. Yankees 4
Because this game was a horror show.
Once again, the Yankees struggled to deal with an URP (Unknown Rookie Pitcher). This pattern has become so obvious that Joe was actually asked about it in an interview today. He got quite testy, saying that the Yankees' opponents would be hard-pressed to find new rookie pitchers in time for the post-season.
But it wasn't just the bats that were sluggish today. Moose wasn't at his best. In particular, he had a really rough fourth inning, giving up six runs. Only two were earned. But despite the error on Jeter, the runs were Moose's fault. Jeter may have made a bad throw, but he didn't make Moose give up a wild pitch, three singles, a walk, and a double.
Speaking of the error...Jeter did make a poor throw, but I think another first baseman might have caught it. Sheffield was not only pulled off the bag, he fell over awkwardly trying to reach for the ball. Unlike yesterday, he made some mistakes today. I don't know if he can be trusted to play first base in the post season.
As if things weren't bad enough, Moose was hit by a comebacker in the 5th inning. He left the game with a bruised left thumb. Villone, the usually reliable Rasner, and lefty specialist Myers took over, and gave up another five runs among them. Ugh. If I were in charge, I would not carry Villone on the post-season roster. He's not just burned out. He's a mediocre pitcher who went on a hot streak for awhile there. He can't be expected to repeat it.
But of course, if I were in charge, Bubba Crosby would be patrolling the Yankee outfield, not golfing in Houston. Joe was asked about Villone's chances of making the post-season roster, and seemed shocked that anyone would think he wouldn't make it.
Beam and Karstens finally stopped the bleeding, but since the score was 11-3 by then, the Rays probably weren't trying all that hard any more.
I know, I know. The Yankees have already clinched. But they still have home field advantage to play for. That might not be as important in baseball as it is in football, but it still matters. I can't help but think that if we'd had home field advantage against the Angels last year, we'd have beat them. The infamous collision between Bubba and Sheff...the crowd noise was so deafening they couldn't possibly hear each other. (Stupid thundersticks should be illegal.)
I'm not too worried. It's natural for teams to slump once they've clinched a post-season berth. The Yanks have played hard all year, and deserve to relax a little. But this game did highlight some possible concerns.
The starting pitching is shakier than I like. Wang is probably our ace. Randy has been inconsistent all year. Moose appears to be struggling (perhaps because he's tired?). Wright is also inconsistent, and he's only good for five innings.
Sheff may not be ready in time for the post-season. At first base or at the plate. He did get his first hit today, but he doesn't look like the Sheff of old yet, and he may be weeks away.
Giambi was out of the lineup. Torn ligament in his wrist. He says he can play injured, but how well? He's been in a heck of slump.
Speaking of slumps...Damon went 0 for 5 today. I don't know if he's still injured or just tired, but he hasn't been hitting well. We should probably rest him. And Joe should consider a backup CFer who isn't named Bernabe. Just in case.
I guess what I'm really worried about is that Joe will fall back into his old habit of favoring veterans, even if they are slumping, injured, or past their primes. If we carry Giambi, Sheff, Bernie, and Matsui, all basically DHs, we're going to be a one-dimensional team. I'd like to see some speed and defense mixed in. Doesn't look likely. Similarly, I'd like to see Rasner, Bruney, Karstens, and/or Veras instead of Villone and Myers. Again, not likely. Sigh.
September 23, 2006: Tampa Bay 8, N.Y. Yankees 0
Another one of those "turn the page" games. Many irate fans blamed Randy Johnson. There was plenty to blame him for; he gave up five earned runs, including two homers. But even if he only gave up one run, the Yankees would still have lost. Joe had his first-string lineup in, aside from Bernie in for the ailing Damon, but they could not score a single run. Still, the game didn't become truly out of reach until Veras gave up two more runs, and Dotel gave up another one. (Dotel now has an ERA of 10.0. They activated him too soon.)
By the end of the game, all the scrubs were in. Including Kevin Thompson in centerfield. Apparently, the only time Joe trusts him in CF is when the game is a blowout, one way or the other.
Joe seriously seems to believe that Bernie is a defensive upgrade over the likes of Thompson, Guiel, and Abreu. True, they are better known as corner OFers than CFers, but these days, any of them would be an upgrade on GOB.
But it's clear that Joe doesn't trust anyone in CF except Damon and Bernie...and Bubba. Bubba should be proud; apparently, it's not easy to earn Torre's trust.
I just hope this doesn't come back to bite us. Defense tends to be even more important in the postseason. If Damon is healthy, it won't be an issue. But if he has to miss a game for any reason, or is less than 100%...having no backup or LIDR except Bernie Williams will not be a good thing.
September 22, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 4, Tampa Bay 1
Wang got off to a rocky start, giving up a rare homer in the first inning. Wang hasn't done well on the hard turf of the Trop, but he settled down and did pretty well last night. It was an easy win for the Yanks.
Mo made his first appearance in almost a month. He was a bit rusty, but nothing a few more games won't fit. It was nice to see him back.
This game also saw the debut of Gary Sheffield at first base. He actually handled it pretty well. Nothing flashy, but he was solid enough.
Someone posted a comment here awhile back suggesting that Bubba should learn first base. He's certainly athletic enough, and being able to play another position would be handy for a utility guy. Though I've heard it's difficult for outfielders to move to the infield, because the ball just gets there so much faster than they're used to. Sheffield actually started as an infielder; he came up as a third baseman, IIRC. I don't think Bubba has ever been an infielder. He started out as a pitcher in high school, became an outfielder in college, and has been an outfielder ever since.
No one expected the Florida Marlins to do anywhere near as well as they have. Joe Girardi has worked an amazing turnaround there. They're in playoff contention, years before anyone thought it was possible.
And what's his reward? A pink slip:
Marlins reportedly won't bring back Girardi
Girardi's days likely numbered
Supposedly, the Marlins feel he doesn't have the people skills needed for the job.
So where will Girardi land next year? Possibly the Chicago Cubs. Dusty Baker is on thin ice there, and Girardi is a Chicago native.
Rampant speculation: When Girardi was the Yankees bench coach, he was one of those who thought Bubba could be the everyday centerfielder. As the Marlins manager, he tried to work a trade for Bubba during spring training this year, but was turned down. If Girardi does land in Chicago, maybe Bubba will as well?
September 20, 2006: Toronto 3, N.Y. Yankees 2
A weird game. A loss was sort of expected, with Sean Henn pitching, the lineup made up of half Columbus Clippers, and dreaded ace "Doc" Halladay on the mound for Toronto. But it was closer than expected. Henn, like Rasner and Karstens before him, kept getting into trouble but getting out of it again.
Then, in the 4th inning, Halladay left the game. I didn't see anything happen to him; he just suddenly called for the trainer. Next thing you know, he's gone. They later said Halladay had a right forearm strain - the same problem that's been afflicting Mariano Rivera.
That seemed like it would open the door for the Yanks, but no...they brought in rookie Davis Romero, and once again, the Yanks couldn't do anything against the URP.
However, they ended up spraying champagne anyway. Kind of weird to be celebrating after a loss, but the Red Sox lost, too, which meant the Yankees clinched. It wasn't quite as emotional as last year, when the Yankees ended up clinching on the second-to-last day of the season; after the grueling, month-long battle to get there, Torre was in tears, and no one could blame him.
This year had its moments, though. Randy Johnson poured a bottle of champagne over Kim Jones' head, while she was in mid-interview. It was funny at first, but he kept doing it. By the end, he was pouring cans of beer over her head even when almost everyone else had left. I got the feeling he had a crush on her, and that was the way he expressed it. Like being in 5th grade again...
It was wonderful to see the usually serious Yankees partying like a bunch of frat boys. (Though there was remarkably little drinking going on, despite the booze flowing.) I just wish Bubba had been there. He deserved to be part of it.
In other news...it's official: the Scranton Red Barons will be the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate next year. Let's recap:
|Triple-A Team||This Year||Next Year|
|Columbus Clippers||New York Yankees||Washington Nationals|
|New Orleans Zephyrs||Washington Nationals||New York Mets?|
|Norfolk Tides||New York Mets||Baltimore Orioles?|
|Ottawa Lynx||Baltimore Orioles||Philadelphia Phillies|
|Scranton Red Barons||Philadelphia Phillies||New York Yankees|
September 20, 2005: N.Y. Yankees 12, Toronto 9
What a difference a day makes. The day after Bubba Crosby won a tight pitcher's duel with a walkoff homer, there was a slugfest in the Bronx.
It was a roller coaster ride for Bubba Crosby, too. He came to the park still smiling that beatific smile he'd had the previous night when he was rounding third and heading for home. But this game wasn't nearly as happy. Bubba did all right, and the Yanks won...but Bubba and his friend Brian Roberts suffered a nasty collision at 1B. Bubba was fine; Brian wasn't.
Bubba put down a bunt and sped toward 1B. The throw to Roberts was right over the bag. Roberts, as he'd done so many times before, reached into the path of the runner to grab the ball, thinking he could pull his arm back in time. But Bubba's a lot faster than the average baserunner. Roberts misjudged it, and Bubba, trying to beat the throw, ran right into Roberts' outstretched arm. It bent in the opposite direction an arm is supposed to. Probably the most gruesome sports injury I can remember this side of Joe Theismann's broken leg.
Perlozzo, the Orioles manager, was furious, and accused Bubba of running inside the baseline. (Replay clearly showed he did not.) Perlozzo was ejected from the game for arguing with the umpire. He later said he was just upset, and admitted that Bubba had done nothing wrong.
Poor Bubba felt awful. He and Brian Roberts have known each other since their college days, when they were on the national college all-star team together. They'd been roommates, and had remained friends. They'd had plans to get together for lunch when the Yanks were in Baltimore the following week.
From the NY Times:
Roberts's Injury Tempers Crosby's Thrill of Victory
Bubba Crosby spent much of yesterday reliving the greatest game of his major league career. In his locker, he had the Yankees' lineup card and a video from Monday's victory over the Baltimore Orioles, which Crosby ended with a home run. He did several interviews and took many congratulatory calls from friends and family.
But Crosby's first at-bat last night brought home a new kind of reality. Crosby bunted in the second inning and collided with the outstretched left arm of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who was covering the bag. As soon as Crosby made contact, he knew he had hurt Roberts.
"Listening to him, you could tell he was in some serious pain," Crosby said. "My stomach just dropped."
Roberts eventually walked off the field -- hunched over, holding his elbow -- with support from Manager Sam Perlozzo and a trainer. The Orioles said Roberts had a dislocated left elbow, ending a breakthrough season that included a start in the All-Star Game.
The elbow was put back into place at Yankee Stadium, but Roberts was taken to a hospital, where he was expected to stay overnight. Crosby hoped to visit him there last night.
As he spoke with reporters, Crosby said an intermediary was trying to find out if Roberts was well enough to see him. Crosby and Roberts were teammates on a national team in 1997 and had made plans to have lunch next week in Baltimore.
"We've tried to stay in touch; we definitely shake each other's hands and see how each other is doing," Crosby said. "It even hits you harder when it's someone you know."
After the play, Crosby sought out Orioles first baseman B.J. Surhoff to ask if he had done anything wrong. Surhoff, who made the throw, assured Crosby that he had stayed inside the baseline.
Roberts finished his season with a .314 average, 18 homers and 73 runs batted in. He batted .417 in 12 games against the Yankees, with 5 homers and 15 R.B.I. "He's such a great guy and a great ballplayer, and he's had such a solid year," Crosby said. "You hate to see it finish like this."
Brian Roberts did not expect to see Bubba Crosby in his hospital room around midnight after Tuesday's game. Roberts was medicated, with his left elbow in a splint and six months of recovery ahead of him after a collision with Crosby hours before. But he did not kick Crosby out of his room.
"I apologized, but of course he told me not to," Crosby said. "He said it's part of the game."
Maybe so, but for Roberts, the Baltimore Orioles' All-Star second baseman, it is an excruciating part. The Orioles announced yesterday that Roberts had torn the pronator flexor tendon and the ulna collateral ligament in his left elbow. He is not expected to be able to play until the middle of March, at the earliest.
"I would think at some point in the spring he would be at full baseball activities," Manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Whether that's early spring or late spring, we don't know yet."
Roberts remained at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital yesterday and was scheduled to return to Baltimore today. The Orioles' trainer, Richard Bancells, said Roberts would have surgery within the next 10 days to fix the tendon, and he said he did not know if Roberts would need reconstructive elbow surgery.
"I told Brian at the hospital, 'There's no reason in the world not to expect a full recovery,'" Bancells said. "The surgeons will do a good job, and Brian is a hard worker and very compliant in rehab."
In the second inning Tuesday, Roberts was covering first base on a bunt by Crosby and stuck his arm in Crosby's running path. Crosby stayed in the baseline and so did Roberts's arm, which bent awkwardly at the elbow on impact.
"I have not seen the replay," Perlozzo said. "Honest to God, I don't want to. I was out there when he was in pain. I didn't need to see it any more."
Perlozzo was ejected before the next batter; he said he made a comment to an umpire after asking if Crosby had been inside the baseline. But Perlozzo said he did not hold Crosby at fault.
"He didn't try to do anything wrong," Perlozzo said. "If he was inside the line, he wasn't that far inside."
Crosby and Roberts were roommates while both played for the United States national team in 1997. They have stayed in touch, and they made plans to see each other next week in Baltimore. Crosby said their friendship made him feel even worse about his role in the injury.
"To see someone you're good friends with get hurt like that, and on top of that, to be a part of the collision and a reason he was knocked out of the game, that makes it even more upsetting," Crosby said.
September 19, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 6, Toronto 3
Well, Karstens pitched much like Rasner did the night before. He was constantly in trouble, but usually got out of it. The Yanks had enough offense to make it a pretty easy victory anyway.
However, I am less enamored with Karstens and Rasner than I was. They looked really good in their first couple of appearances, but perhaps it was just a fluke. While I appreciate their grit in pitching themselves out of jams, I really wish they wouldn't get into said jams in the first place. In the post-season, it could be fatal.
A week ago, I wanted to keep Karstens and Rasner on the post-season roster even if it meant dumping the likes of Myers and Villone. Now, I'm not so sure.
If there was a fly in the ointment tonight, it was injuries. Giambi left the game early, because his wrist was hurting again. He's had two cortisone shots already, and is thinking about getting a third. Johnny Damon made a great tumbling catch on the warning track, and came up with his hand bloody. He seemed to be okay and stayed in the game, but it was a reminder of how fragile he's been this season. His shoulder seemed to be bothering him, even before he took that tumble. And the bullpen is just not the same without Mo. The Yanks seem poised to roll through the postseason...if they can get and stay healthy.
In other news, the Columbus Clippers are now the Nationals' Triple-A team. Rumor is that the Yankees' new Triple-A team will be the Scranton Red Barons. Dang. I'm going to miss the Clippers.
September 19, 2005: N.Y. Yankees 3, Baltimore 2
One year ago today was the game Michael Kay said "would forever be remembered as 'The Bubba Crosby Game.'" The game where Bubba hit the first walkoff homer of his life. And what a time to hit it - when the Yanks were locked in a tight division race, when every game counted.
Here's the NY Times write-up:
Crosby Show and Yanks Win Emmy For Drama
The possibility was too rich for Bubba Crosby to consider. For two seasons, the Yankees had pounded a harsh reality into his psyche. Crosby was fast enough to pinch-run, and dependable enough to play outfield in the late innings. But Crosby was not a hitter.
They gave him an occasional spot on the major league roster, with more round-trip plane tickets to Columbus, Ohio, than he could ever want. The possibility of starring with his bat at Yankee Stadium was so distant, he never dreamed of it.
"I didn't wonder," Crosby said. "I didn't think it was ever going to happen."
Crosby went three months without a hit last season. He was so expendable this summer that he briefly lost his roster spot to Melky Cabrera. When he came off the field after the top of the ninth inning last night, Crosby had not hit a homer in 17 months.
The Yankees were tied with the Baltimore Orioles in a tense, pennant-race, must-win kind of game. Crosby would lead off the inning. He crouched as he watched Eric DuBose warm up, saying a prayer to himself, as he always does, asking for confidence and peace.
What he also wanted -- from DuBose, at least -- was the breaking ball his teammate Jorge Posada had told him to look for. When DuBose threw it to him on a 1-0 pitch, Crosby unloaded, sending the ball hurtling toward the right-field bleachers. Crosby shot a fist in the air, and there was never any doubt: the Yankees had won, 3-2, because of him.
"I've never hit a walk-off homer, ever, in my whole life, not even in Little League," Crosby said. "To do it at Yankee Stadium, this time of year, when it counts, it just doesn't get any better than this."
The victory brought the Yankees within a half-game of the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East. The Red Sox lost at Tampa Bay, and several Yankees watched the last few outs on a TV in the players' lounge.
Crosby did not expect to start last night. Manager Joe Torre had given him 15 starts this season, none against a left-handed pitcher. But Gary Sheffield is still unable to play the outfield because of a thigh injury, and Ruben Sierra hurt the Yankees on defense in right field on Sunday.
So Torre used Crosby there against the left-hander Erik Bedard, figuring the Yankees would sacrifice offense for a better defender in right. "That shows how smart we are," Torre said.
Crosby had an infield single and a bunt single in his first two at-bats off Bedard, who frustrated the Yankees along with two relievers. In the first seven innings, the Yankees struck out five times with at least two runners on base.
They could never get a lead for starter Chien-Ming Wang, who seemed to spend eight innings fielding soft choppers. Wang made nine assists, two shy of the record for a pitcher, and limited the Orioles to seven singles and a walk. Baltimore had only one fly out against Wang, who was making his third start after missing two months with shoulder trouble.
"He showed us what he showed us in the first half," Torre said. "You're not really sure, when someone's coming off rehab, if you're going to see that again. Tonight, with all the ground balls, that was nice for us."
But it was hard for the crowd to appreciate Wang, considering how futile the Yankees' hitters were. DuBose struck out Hideki Matsui with two outs and two on to end the seventh, and after he worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning, the ballpark went silent.
It stirred a little for Mariano Rivera (7-4), who came on for the top of the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning. And it exploded after the blast by Crosby, who had thought about bunting before he thought better of it.
Crosby has been coming alive at the plate. He started six games in late July after the Yankees shipped Cabrera back to Class AAA Columbus, but he did not start at all in August. During that time, Crosby worked intensely with the hitting coach, Don Mattingly, trying to shorten his swing and use the whole field.
Mattingly would position a batting tee deeper than Crosby was used to. It taught Crosby to let the pitch travel a bit farther, to give himself a split-second longer to react and to trust the quickness in his hands. He had 9 hits in his last 23 at-bats before coming to the plate in the ninth.
Facing DuBose, a left-hander, Crosby remembered Posada's advice. DuBose, Posada had told him, loves to throw breaking balls to left-handed hitters. Crosby resolved to look for one.
On the bench, the Yankees just wanted him to ignite a rally. Derek Jeter would be up next, then Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Crosby's job was to get on base.
"The last thing you think is home run," Rodriguez said. "Nothing against Bubba, but you're hoping for a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a broken bat, a bunt single. And then he hits the ball like Darryl Strawberry."
Crosby, who said he was simply trying to hit through the middle, pulled a rocket deep into the stands, his third career homer. He said he had tried to take his home run trot slowly, to soak in the moment, which is just what Aaron Boone said the last time a Yankee homered so improbably to end a game.
But Crosby found himself racing toward the plate, to an ecstatic throng of teammates and, later, to a dugout curtain call from the fans. This was his moment, the moment he will never forget, the moment he had wanted years before he was ever a Yankee.
"Everybody was screaming and hugging, clapping and banging my helmet," Crosby said. "It's just one of those things every kid dreams of."
Good night, our hero: Contrary to what you might think, Bubba Crosby slept just fine after his game-winning home run Monday.
After riding the subway home -- and being congratulated by sharp-eyed Yankees fans -- the 29-year-old said he stayed up late to watch the YES Network's replay of the game, reliving the long ball that launched the Yankees to a 3-2 win, before finally dozing off.
"I was so emotionally and physically drained," Crosby said.
The home run put the Yankees within a half-game of first place when the Red Sox lost later Monday night, which could make it a milestone moment for the Yankees' unsung hero.
"Most of the singers are on the DL," Torre joked. "The ones that are unsung are out there playing."
It'll be a career highlight for the little-used outfielder, his family and friends, several of whom called late Monday and early Tuesday to express their congratulations.
Watching the replay on TV, Crosby said he'd also picked up details that had been lost in the commotion of the moment.
"I didn't realize [there were] quite a few hands I shook," Crosby said. "I didn't see exactly where [the homer] went, for the most part. It's funny to have so much adrenaline and be on a natural high that you don't even understand the things you do."
Crosby was back in right field again Tuesday, filling in defensively for Gary Sheffield, who continues to nurse a strained left thigh. Sheffield tested the injury on Monday and said he felt better, but he continued to serve as the designated hitter.
"You never know," Crosby said. "You just always make sure you're prepared."
September 18, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 7, Toronto 6
A crazy game. If the Yanks didn't have a huge lead, I'd have been biting my fingernails off, but as it was, I could only laugh. Rasner, formerly the Golden Boy, didn't do so well. He was constantly in and out of trouble. Still, the Yankees came from behind, then ran up a four-run lead in the top of the 9th. They seemed to be in catbird seat...until their bullpen folded in bottom the 9th. Villone and Dotel almost gave the game away. (I think Dotel ensured that his name will not be on the post-season roster.) But the Yanks did manage to hold on and win by one run.
Johnny Damon was ejected from the game in the 5th inning, for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. He wasn't even at bat; he was complaining about a call made on Matsui. The umpire had a rather short fuse, I must say. Though I've never seen Damon so angry. I thought Torre was going to be ejected, too, the way he was yelling at the umpire, but he wasn't.
I expected Joe to put Bernie Williams in CF to take Damon's place, but instead, he put in Aaron Guiel. I'm not sure what to make of that. Did the "Bernie triple" the other day remind Joe that GOB really can't handle CF any more? Or did he just not want Bernie playing on the hard Toronto turf? (I remember him putting Bubba in CF in Toronto earlier this year for that reason.)
In any case, the move paid off. Guiel made a great sliding catch of a bloop to shallow center that likely saved the game. It prevented a couple of runs from scoring, anyway, and the Yanks only won by one run. Will Joe finally trust Guiel to play CF now? I hope so. He's not as good as Bubba, but he's a lot better than Bernie.
One year ago, the Yanks lost to Toronto by one run...thanks to Ruben Sierra's terrible defense in the outfield. That prompted Joe to go with Bubba Crosby instead. (Not that it should have even been a question. Sierra was batting something like .108 for the month, while Bubba was batting .379.) Will Aaron "Ralph Malph" Guiel be this year's Bubba Crosby?
The seven players - Beam, Melky Cabrera, Jose Veras, Sean Henn, Andy Cannizaro, Jeff Karstens and Kevin Thompson - were dressed in blue blazers, white turtleneck shirts and gray dress slacks. The outfits were topped off by gray-haired wigs and aviator sunglasses.
September 17, 2006: Boston 6, N.Y. Yankees 3
September 17, 2006: Boston 5, N.Y. Yankees 4
The Sox swept the second doubleheader, causing much glee in Beantown. Some delusional Sox fans are even telling themselves they can catch the Yankees.
In their dreams. These games don't mean much, and Torre managed them accordingly. I can't get too upset about that. With back-to-back doubleheaders and a double-digit lead in the division standings, Torre's first priority was to avoid exhausting his players. He mostly succeeded.
The second game was very close. It ended up being a tale of two centerfielders.
Theirs, Coco Crisp, robbed a Jorge Posada homer that would have put the Yanks ahead. I didn't think he'd even catch up with the ball, but he timed it perfectly, running to the wall and making a leaping grab well over it. (Jeez, who does he think he is, Bubba Crosby?)
Ours, Bernie Williams, has such a weak arm that the Boston sent Cora on a pretty shallow sac fly. Bernie's throw home bounced about a dozen times. Cora scored from 3B - the game-winning run. They might have sent him even if Damon were in CF, since Damon's arm isn't great, either, but no way would they have sent him if it was Bubba.
September 16, 2006: Boston 5, N.Y. Yankees 2
September 16, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 7, Boston 5
Back when this season began, who would have guessed that the last Boston-New York series of the season would be practically meaningless? I bet a lot of people bought tickets to these games, thinking they'd be electric.
Electric wasn't exactly the word for it. They were excruciating to watch. Slow, sloppy, the players on both teams visibly dragging. I suspect there would be a lot of greenies sucked down on a weekend like this in previous years.
As expected with a doubleheader, there were a lot of second stringers in, especially by the ends of the games. Which of course made me wonder why the likes of Nick Green and Andy Phillips are on the roster, but Bubba Crosby isn't. Sigh.
Jim Kaat's last game was supposed to be Friday night, but it was rained out. He did throw out the first pitch in the first game of the doubleheader Saturday, and hung around in the booth for awhile, but couldn't stay to call another game. Best of luck, Kitty.
Came across this old scouting report on Bubba, when he was in college and a hot draft prospect.
Bubba Crosby, OF, Rice University, Jr., 5-11, 185 lbs.
Bubba Crosby is a lefty-swinging outfielder out of Houston who generates tremendous power from a strong lower body and an uppercut stroke that gets through the hitting zone in a hurry. He hits from a crouch, weight on his back foot, a la George Brett or Phil Plantier, and uncoils on the pitch as it arrives.
Overshadowed last season by Lance Berkman, a 1st-round pick of the Houston Astros in June 1997, Crosby still was named to the all Western Athletic Conference team and now finds himself in a position similar to that of Berkman a year ago, i.e., to be a high 1st round pick in the June draft. Baseball America in its Early Draft Preview, named the first-team All-American the #12 prospect in the nation. The same publication touted Crosby as the 7th best college prospect in the preseason; he has since moved up a slot to #6.
The night I saw him, against San Diego State, at Tony Gwynn Stadium, Crosby was coming back from some kind of an injury and didn't play the field, so I don't know what kind of an outfielder he is. I was still driving to the park during his first at bat, but in his second trip to the plate, after swinging and missing at the first offering from the Aztecs' right hander Chad Wanders, he hit a solid line drive to straightaway center that was caught for an out. His next time up, Crosby swatted Wanders' first pitch 450 feet, onto the roof of a building out behind right field. In his fourth time up to bat, he hit a towering popup to third base on a 2-1 pitch. And in his last at bat, Crosby hung in nicely against a lefty, slashing a grounder through the left side of the infield for an RBI single.
Because of his extreme uppercut stroke, Crosby will hit his share of fly balls. He may never hit .300, but with his leg strength, solid mechanics, and quick bat, many of the fly balls he hits will land in the cheap seats.
AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
.401 207 73 83 15 3 23 84 42 25 2
Crosby has had an outstanding season at Rice. In the June 8-21, 1998, issue of Baseball America he is ranked #20 among draft prospects, and the top collegiate outfielder. He is rated the third best college power hitter (behind Miami's Pat Burrell and UCLA's Eric Valent) and the third fastest baserunner (behind Texas A&M's Jason Tyner and Wichita State's Zach Sorenson). Crosby is also ranked #5 among Texas prospects. I earlier compared him to Phil Plantier, but that was before I learned he plays center field. When I saw Crosby, he was coming back from a hamstring injury which kept him from playing the field. His height (6'0") is really his only weakness, and from everything I've read about the guy, that won't get in his way. Think Mark Kotsay, but with more power.
Last year, the Yankees were locked in what amounted to a month-long playoff. Every game was counted, as they battled to catch the Red Sox.
This year couldn't be more different. The Yanks have not clinched yet, but it could happen as soon as this weekend. With a double-digit lead over the Sox, most of the drama is gone, at least until the post-season. Only homefield advantage for the playoffs remains in question.
Last year, the Devil Rays were the Yankees' nemesis. The Bombers didn't win a series against Tampa until the last month of the season, when it was a matter of life or death. Indeed, it was the Yanks' terrible record against bad teams that made the division race so close last year.
This year, order is restored. The Yanks have reasserted their dominance over the Rays, winning all series (so far), including sweeping this one.
September 13, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 8, Tampa Bay 4
Lidle did not do very well, but the offense and the bullpen picked him up. Today, the Yankees announced that Lidle has tendonitis in his finger, and will miss his next start. At this point, I'm hoping Joe leaves him off the postseason roster in favor of Kastens or Rasner.
A-Rod had a great night at the plate, but suffered yet another throwing error. He now has 23 errors - almost twice his yearly average since switching to 3B. Still, he didn't let it affect him, like he might have earlier this season. I confess, I thought A-Rod might be done for the year, but he's straightened out his game and is peaking at just the right time.
September 14, N.Y. Yankees 7, Tampa Bay 4
The weather forecast was so bad that I fully expected the game to be rained out. But it was played (though it the rain was so heavy at times you could hardly see what was happening).
Joe decided to start Karstens instead of Wang; he didn't want to waste a Wang start if there was a rain delay. He also benched his entire starting outfield. While the infield was dry, the outfield was wet and slippery. So it was Kevin Thompson in LF, Bernie Williams in CF, and Aaron Guiel in RF.
Of course, I missed Bubba. If he were on the roster, he'd have been in CF. And the game started out with a "Bernie triple" by Baldelli. What would have been a single or maybe a double with someone else in CF became a triple on Bernie's slow footspeed and weak arm. Baldelli eventually scored, so it did cost us.
Not that it mattered. Though Karstens wasn't at his best, the Yanks had enough offense to win the game. And Rasner came in to pitch the last four innings and was terrific. I really hope he's on the post-season roster. From the bullpen or as a starter, he's been solid gold this year.
Tonight's game against Boston has been rained out. Which means back-to-back doubleheaders for the weekend. Last year, this would have been cause for great consternation. This year - it's inconvenient, but nothing to get worked up over. Still, it does make me wish the new Yankee Stadium had a retractable roof. Some global warming models predict the northeast will become a lot rainier (while the southwest gets a lot drier). If that's the case, we could be seeing a lot more home games rained out. That would be a definite competitive disadvantage. All these doubleheaders are rough on the players, especially the pitchers.
It is believed that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants his triple-A team closer to New York. Scranton, Pa., approximately 120 miles west of New York City, is available since the Philadelphia Phillies allowed their contract to lapse. The team currently known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barrons will play in Allentown in 2008, and Philadelphia is rumored to be planning to play its top minor-league team in Ottawa for the 2007 season.
September 12, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 12, Tampa Bay 4
This one was a laugher from the start. The hapless Tim Corcoran gave up 7 earned runs while only getting one out. He was pulled after 1/3 inning. The Yanks were up 9-0 by the end of the 1st inning.
Hideki Matsui was in the lineup for the first time since he broke his wrist. He got a standing ovation, and was surprised to be so warmly greeted. He also went 4 for 4 with a walk, making a mockery of those who worried that he wasn't ready to come back yet.
Abreu had a monster night, breaking out of his slump with a vengeance. He had 7 RBI...all in that first inning.
The only fly in the ointment was Octavio Dotel. Torre hasn't used him much, leading to speculation that there's something wrong with him. Well, he came in to pitch the ninth inning of this game, and it became obvious why Joe's reluctant to use him. He gave up four runs before getting out of the inning. In this game, it meant we won 12-4 instead of 12-0. In most games, it would have been a disaster.
The Yankees dugout is extremely crowded these days. They've got some kids up from Trenton (including Phil Hughes). They won't be activated; they're just there to soak up the big league atmosphere. Then there's the expanded rosters. This year, it's like spring training again. They had to schedule two stretching sessions instead of the usual one. The bench in the dugout is packed. I can only imagine what it's like in the clubhouse.
Joe is going to have his work cut out for him, paring his current roster down to 25 players for the post-season. Looking at this team...even if Bubba had been called up, there is no way he'd have made the post-season roster. Well, if it were up to me, I'd carry him; I think speed and defense are extremely important, even more so in the post-season when the pitching tends to be very good. But Joe will go with the big bats. Abreu, Damon, Sheff, Matsui, Bernie, Wilson...there's no room for Bubba on this roster.
Ironically, what originally seemed like an opportunity for Bubba - Sheff and Matsui being out for most of the season - ended up being what pushed him off the team. It opened the door for a parade of new outfielders, some of whom stuck. Maybe only because they still had options and Bubba didn't, but they stuck. It also forced the Yankees to trade for big-name players like Abreu and Wilson, whom they would have had little interest in otherwise.
If Matsui and/or Sheff had stayed healthy, Bubba may not have gotten many starts, but his position as fifth outfielder and pinch-runner would have been safe. He'd probably have made the post-season, as he did the previous two years. Ah, sweet irony of life.
April 11, 2004: NY Yankees 5, Chicago White Sox 4
Two days after Bubba came in as a late-inning replacement and homered in his first at-bat as a Yankee, Joe Torre decided to let Bubba start in centerfield. It was a cold, raw Easter Sunday. The grass was wet and slick, and they didn't want Bernie playing on it. Bubba had gotten one start with the Dodgers the previous year, but this was his first start as a Yankee.
He had a spectacular day. He made a fantastic, crashing-into-the-fence catch, and hit a three-run homer. Then he made another great catch. And a flashy sliding stop after a ball got past Sheff.
Everyone was going nuts. The YES announcers, at the game and in the studio, were referring to the game as a "Crosby Clambake." (I had no idea where that came from, until they explained it was a golf tournament and party run by Bing Crosby.) They were also raving about the great routes Bubba took in the outfield. The fans gave him several standing ovations, cheered him wildly when he came to bat or took his spot in the outfield, and went crazy whenever a ball went anywhere near him. By the end of the game, they were chanting his name.
One amusing blunder: Michael Kay said that Bobby Crosby of Oakland was Bubba's brother. They are not related.
Kay also told a funny story about someone asking Bubba if he was from Jersey. The reply? "Are you kidding me? With a name like 'Bubba'?"
According to Kay, the Dodgers scouts were amazed that the Yankees got both Scott Proctor and Bubba Crosby for Robin Ventura. They thought one of them would have been a fair trade. There was much talk of Cashman's genius in getting both young players, when everyone knew the Yanks pretty much had to trade Ventura.
|Bubba giving a pre-game interview.|
|The starting lineup.|
|Starting in centerfield for the first time in Yankee Stadium.|
|Bubba at the plate. The YES announcers were discussing who he looked like. One thought he looked like quarterback Steve Young. Another thought he looked like golfer Phil Mickelson. Eh. I don't see the resemblance. Except they're all left-handed.|
|Bubba studying the scouting report.|
|After his home run, Bubba was pushed out to take his first big-league curtain call.|
|Bubba sitting in the dugout after his big hit.|
|The YES announcers were bemused that Bubba had hit more homers than anyone else on the team, except Jorge Posada.|
|When Bubba went out to centerfield after hitting his home run, he got a standing ovation. He acknowledged the cheers with a tip of his cap. Michael Kay noted that Yankees fans fall in love quickly, and they had fallen in love with Bubba.|
|Ummm... Hook 'em, Horns? Bubba signals to someone after making a nice catch.|
|Bubba at bat.|
|The camera lingered on Bubba for a long time during "God Bless America." I don't think they showed any other player.|
|At the end of the game, Bubba runs in, and pumps his fist. He was chosen the Player of the Game.|
"He was all over the place," Mussina said. "He had a great game and we wouldn't have won without him."
"It seemed like every other inning I was tipping my cap," he said.
..."It's just been a dream come true," he said. "This day's pretty much tattooed in my mind."