Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
May 14, 2006: Oakland 6, N.Y. Yankees 1
This morning at the grocery store checkout, I was asked to make a donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Apparently, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It reminded me of Mother's Day, when MLB players wore pink ribbons and armbands and used pink bats to raise awareness of - and money for - the fight against breast cancer.
Bernie Williams agreed to use a pink bat, but was very alarmed when it actually arrived. He wasn't expecting it to be that pink. He actually went into Torre's office to express his concern.
That pretty much summed up the reactions to the pink bats. It was for a worthy cause, but many seemed a bit uncomfortable with them. The game announcers commented about how times had changed; in the old days, players wouldn't be caught dead using pink bats. Many of the players only used the pink bats in batting practice, not in the actual game. (Though Bernie did use his.) Torre made a comment about Bubba Crosby not using a pink bat: "Maybe if your name is Bubba, you don't want a pink bat."
Actually, the real reason Bubba didn't use a pink bat was because more players than anticipated had requested the pink bats. The Louisville Slugger company couldn't make them fast enough. Some players didn't get theirs in time, and Bubba was one of them.
Well, you could knock me over with a feather. I didn't think the NL team would have a snowball's chance in hell to win the World Series. The Cards not only did it - they did it in only five games.
Of course, many would say Detroit was not the best team in the AL, either.
I'm not sure what this means. Has baseball achieved the much-ballyhooed "parity"? Is it just a fluke - any team can win a short series?
In any case, it's given me new appreciation for the Yankees' dynasty years in the late '90s. They made it look easy. It ain't.
Jon Heyman of SI called this the Worst Series, and I agree. Though I really don't mind that the teams were from relatively small markets, lowering the ratings, and there weren't a lot of superstars on the rosters. What sucked about this series was the feeling that the best teams weren't playing. Not just because they didn't have great regular season records, but because the play on the field was sloppy. Detroit basically gave the series away with their defensive errors. And their impatience at the plate finally came back to bite them.
Then there's the pine tar thing. I didn't really care who won this Series, not feeling strongly about either team. But after that pine tar thing, I started rooting for the Cards. I hate to see cheaters win.
If there was a bright spot in this psotseason, it was seeing the little guys step up. Guys like Taguchi So and yes, Jeff Weaver. It's annoying he never pitched like this for the Yanks, but it's also kind of neat to see a castoff make good.
Then there's the littlest (literally) guy of all: David Eckstein, the World Series MVP. Looking at the cold, hard numbers, he shouldn't even be starting. Looking at the way he played, he deserved to be MVP.
Sigh. I admit it. Earlier in this season, I had hopes that it would be Bubba who would be World Series MVP. Like Eckstein, he's an undersized guy known for his hard work and hustle. The kind of player they call "scrappy."
Is there a lesson for the Yankees in all this? Maybe that there's more to a player than just numbers, and more to building a team than collecting free agent superstars. It wasn't the superstar sluggers like Pujols that won this Series for the Cards.
And in Yankees news...Craig Wilson, Octavio Dotel and Miguel Cairo filed for free agency today.
Poor Craig Wilson. I had high hopes for him, but he just didn't hit very well, and Torre had a very short leash for him. I don't know if he just went into a slump (he's always been streaky), or if AL pitching was too much for him.
The Tigers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night night. Defense wins championships, and it was a couple of defensive gaffs that gave the game away.
The Cardinals are one win away from winning the World Series. They could win it tonight in front of the home crowd. With Jeff Weaver pitching.
Arrghhh. As if it's not bad enough that the Tigers, who spanked the Yankees so soundly, are rolling over for the Cards...it just has to be Jeff Weaver, of all people, pitching tonight for the Cardinals.
In Yankees news...Don Mattingly has been promoted to bench coach. This is widely seen as a sign that he will take over as manager after Torre leaves. Kevin Long, the Clippers' hitting coach, will take over Mattingly's old job. Lee Mazzilli, the former bench coach, is being fired. According to the NY Daily News, Maz is taking the fall for the Yankees' failure this year. If Torre wasn't fired, someone else had to be: the bench coach.
And hey, one of my favorite blogs, WasWatching, gave us a link. Steve Lombardi has posted some good stuff about Bubba in the past.
The weather is not being kind. After a two-hour rain delay last night, Game 4 of the World Series was re-scheduled for tonight. But it may not be played tonight; the weather looks iffy through the weekend. We may have November baseball again.
Lots of news today....
New labor agreement: The players and owners have reached an agreement. Hallelujah. Nothing that affects Bubba, so far as I could tell. Except that he'll be making more money, whether he ends up in the majors or minors.
Gary Sheffield: The Yankees have decided to pick up Sheff's option. And Sheff is not happy about it.
I suspect the Yankees picked up the option just so they can trade him. Good riddance. We need pitching and defence, not another aging slugger.
Phil Hughes: He's apparently a baseball card collector, and actually posts to this forum using the screen name nyyphily45.
Derek Jeter: Won the Hank Aaron Award for outstanding offensive performance in the AL.
A-Rod: It sounds more and more like he will be traded. Yes, I know Boras came out and said he would not be traded. But that's just what agents do. Ditto Cashman. They are positioning themselves for the negotiations to come.
Both Jeter and Torre were asked yesterday if they thought A-Rod would be back next season. Jeter said something like, "Yes, he still his years left on his deal." Torre said something like, "Yes, he's got a no-trade." It was striking that neither said anything about Alex's ability, or that the team needed him. Sounds to me like they are greasing the skids under him.
Some Bubba links...
This Rangers fan thinks Texas should give Bubba a look-see:
Bubba Crosby -- How do you go from being a starting outfielder for a division-winning team to a minor league free agent in less than a month?
According to Yankees Team Chaplain, George McGovern, Lidle took part in many Baseball Chapel activities. "I met Corey soon after he was traded to the Yankees from the Phillies. I met him at a Yankees team members Bible study at a hotel in Baltimore where the team was staying when they played the Orioles in August. Also at the study were Bubba Crosby, Sal Fasano, and Scott Proctor."
Joe Girardi took himself out of the running for the Nationals job yesterday:
Girardi Doesn’t Want to Uproot His Family to Be a Manager Again
He has homes in Florida and Chicago, but doesn't want to move his family anywhere else. So it was the Cubs job or nothing. When that job went to Piniella, Girardi decided to accept a standing offer from YES to be a broadcaster. (He can live in Chicago and work for YES.)
It's unlikely Girardi would accept a coaching job with the Yanks, as some have speculated. He probably would have to move to NY for that. And going back to coaching after being a manager would be a step backward.
He says he still wants to be a manager. When the right opportunity opens up, he'll jump on it.
Meanwhile, Girardi's withdrawal may be good news for Tony Pena, who also interviewed for the Nats job.
In other news...Baseball America posted this list of minor leaguers who have been declared free agents following the 2006 season, as provided by Major League Baseball.
It's slightly different from the one that was posted by MinorLeagueBaseball.com. But Bubba's on both lists.
And a ton of the credit goes to Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams -- and Miguel Cairo and yes, Bubba Crosby -- who all stepped into HUGE shoes and did a magnificent job.
Ack. Friday night and no baseball. I'm going through withdrawal symptoms.
Thought I'd share Bubba's 2005 Columbus Clippers baseball card. I've seen scans of some of his other cards online, but never this one.
Not a great picture, IMO. The sunlight is too harsh for a portrait. And the camera angle is slightly worms-eye. Not sure if they were trying to make him look bigger, or if it was just a short photographer.
And I guess we know why Bubba's so often posed with the bat on his right shoulder, even though he's left-handed. Holding the bat on the left shoulder, as a lefty normally would, blocks the team logo found on the left breast of your standard baseball uniform.
And here's the back of the card:
At the end of the regular season, another Subway Series seemed nigh inevitable. But the Yankees washed out in the first round, losing 1-3 to the Tigers. The Mets put up more of a fight, but in the end met a similar fate, losing to the Cardinals in a Game 7 thriller. It's going to be Detroit vs. St. Louis in the 2006 World Series. Jeff Weaver may be the Game 1 starter for the Cards.
It was a pitchers' duel last night, with the game knotted at one for six and a half innings. It looked like the Cards might pull ahead in the 6th, when Rolen hit what looked like a home run to LF. But Endy Chavez made a leaping grab at the wall, and pulled it back in. (Barely - it was a snowcone that almost fell out.) He then threw it back in and doubled off Edmonds, who had been on first. A very Bubba-esque play.
Like Bubba, Chavez has worked hard to modify his swing and keep the ball on the ground rather than trying to hit for home runs. He only got one hit last night, but that's more than most of his teammates can say.
The game winner turned out to be another unlikely hero: Yadier Molina. His two-run homer in the top of the 9th put the Cards on top for good. The Mets threatened in the bottom of the 9th, but Carlos Beltran struck out with bases loaded to end the game...and the Mets' season.
It's been fun watching all the little guys step up. Taguchi's homer. Jeff Weaver turning into Cy Young. Chavez and Molina.
Better luck next year, Mets.
It's a dark day for "Sal's Pals": Sal Fasano has filed for free agency. I won't be sorry to see him go, frankly. He didn't hit, didn't throw anybody out, didn't block the plate. Might as well have kept Kelly Stinnett.
Nick Green and Andy Cannizaro were outrighted to Scranton yesterday; Green filed for free agency.
The Yankees are also losing minor leaguers Koyie Hill, Terrence Long, Aaron Small, Kris Wilson, and Felix Escalona to free agency.
In addition, according to this list, these players in the Yankee system (among others) are eligible for free agency:
Jorge De Paula
Dunno if they'll actually choose to become free agents.
Other changes: Bill Masse, the Trenton Thunder manager, was fired, and longtime strength and conditioning coach Jeff Mangold got the axe, too.
Of course, the biggest question is A-Rod. Trade him, or not? Cashman says he doesn't want to trade A-Rod. A-Rod says he doesn't want to leave NY. A-Rod's agent says A-Rod's not leaving, and A-Rod's contract is constructed to discourage a trade.
But they could just be saying that. Positioning themselves for the negotiations to come.
Lou Piniella got the job as manager of the Cubs. He wants A-Rod. A-Rod has a great relationship with Piniella (and not with Torre). I think if the price is right, there will be a trade.
As for Joe Girardi...the Washington Post thinks he's the frontrunner for the Nats job now. OTOH, Peter Abraham doesn't think Girardi is high on the Nats' list, and doesn't think he has a chance in Texas or San Francisco, either. He says Girardi may return to the Yankees as a coach. Meanwhile, Rotoworld says that Girardi is the frontrunner for the Nats job, but thinks he may decide to do TV instead.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
-John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
I just have to say...what bizarre alternate universe have I fallen into, where Kenny Rogers can hold a two-run lead and Mike Mussina can't??
Friday the 13th was bad luck for #13. Or maybe it was good luck? A-Rod was a passenger on a private jet that skidded off the end of the runway today in California. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Still no news on what Bubba's doing in the off-season, or what he's planning for next year. While he could theoretically make the Yankees out of spring training next year, the odds are not very good. The Yanks have obviously decided he's not part of their future. He'd be better off with another club - one that would give him a fair shot. But if he doesn't get any better offers, the Yankees would probably sign him to a minor league contract. Though I suppose they could trade him as well.
The Clippers' website has already converted over to the Nationals, while the Red Barons' has not yet converted over to the Yankees. So news on the Yankees' Triple-A club is pretty scarce.
However, MinorLeagueBaseball.com has this story about the Yankees transporting their equipment from Columbus to Scranton.
Before moving to the northeast, the only thing I knew about Scranton, Pennsylvania was the Harry Chapin song, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas. I've since driven by it a few times; it looked pretty generic, not even as interesting as it sounds in the song. But this article kind of made me want to visit:
Future Red Barons pleased
“I remember there was a forest in the outfield and there were deer walking around,” [Kevin] Thompson said, referring to the backdrop surrounding Lackawanna County Stadium. “And I remember the hotel we stayed at was an old train station and there were stories that it was haunted.”
The tone of Haunted Baseball is light and conversational. Its forty chapters offer discrete, self-contained narratives about shadowy figures hovering over beds, stereos sliding off tables in a Major League clubhouse, ghost encounters at home plate, spectral Hall of Famers throwing fastballs in living rooms, blue orbs flying towards terrified ballplayers at a neighborhood haunted mansion, and pop-ups disappearing into thin air.
Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has issued their post season report card for the 2006 Yankees. The most valuable Yankee was none other than Derek Jeter, pulling ahead of Jorge Posada, who held the lead in the midterm report.
Here's the entire list, best to worst, contributions on both offense and defense taken into account:
K. Wilson -6
C. Wilson -13
A shocking tragedy today. I can hardly believe it. It brought back a lot of dark memories for many New Yorkers, about both 9/11 and Thurman Munson.
A small plane crashed into a Manhattan highrise this afternoon. I was following the story on the Internet at work. Was it a terrorist attack? Fighter jets were scrambled over major U.S. cities, just in case. The stock market crashed. I thought it was probably an accident, but was keeping an eye on the story, just in case.
After work, I came home and turned on CNN. There was a banner across the bottom of the screen: BREAKING NEWS: Plane registered to NY Yankees' Cory Lidle.
It was just so unexpected I couldn't take it in at first. Like two worlds that aren't supposed to intersect suddenly colliding. I thought for a moment that I was so obsessed with baseball that I was imagining things.
But no, Cory Lidle, of all people, was the pilot of the plane that crashed into a building in Manhattan. Of course I immediately got online to see what was going on. All kinds of rumors were swirling. It was a helicopter, not a plane. There was another Yankee on the plane with him - probably Giambi. The crash killed people in the building and on the street.
None of that was true. It was a plane, not a helicopter. The only one on the plane with him was a flight instructor. And no one in the building or on the street was killed. The only two fatalities were the two people on the plane.
Lidle's parents found out when they saw it on TV. His wife and son were flying from NY to LA at the time, and had no way of knowing what had happened until they landed. One of the drawbacks of celebrity, I guess. Mayor Bloomberg was careful not to name any names during his press conference, but the media had long since announced that Lidle was one of the victims.
From an article at MLB.com :
Lidle was not a superstar. His bags were always packed. In nine seasons, he wore seven different uniforms.
But precisely because of that, he had a wide reach in the baseball family. His six degrees touched a lot of people, and his death affected them all.
Not only on the field.
At 5:40 p.m., an anonymous painful wail pierces the silence of a still-vacant Shea Stadium.
The day before, Preston Wilson had reminisced about cavorting around Shea Stadium as a 12-year-old watching pop Mookie and the rest of the 1986 Mets win the World Series. Preston talked about how welcoming it was to still see many of the same people working in various capacities in the park.
It stood then to reason a lot of current workers were also here in 1997, when Lidle spent his rookie season with the Mets.
That anonymous, painful wail confirmed it.
UPDATE: There were a ton of stories about Cory Lidle today. Here are a couple that are worth a look.
Bob Cook at MSNBC writes about the forces drove young Cory Lidle to cross the picket line...a decision that changed his life forever.
And Michael P. Geffner, for the Middletown Times Herald-Record, writes an usually personal remembrance. He admitted that he lost his journalistic detachment with Cory Lidle; they had become close friends.
It's official: Joe is keeping his job.
You’re back for the year. I expect a great deal from you and the entire team. I have high expectations, and I want to see enthusiasm, a fighting spirit and a team that works together.
Well, Monday passed without an announcement about Torre's fate. That may be good news for Joe...but bad news for Alex Rodriguez. At least if he wants to stay in NY. Moving A-Rod to the eight-hole has been seen by many as a message from Torre to Steinbrenner that he wanted A-Rod gone. A-Rod has a no-trade, but it would be hard for him to refuse to leave if the Yanks really want him to go. Though I'm sure he'll insist on being traded to a contender.
Joel Sherman, who yesterday reported that Torre was likely to be fired, today reports in the NY Post that it looks like Torre may survive the Boss' fury. He says Torre is the least of their worries; what they need is hungry young players.
But the most important failure with this team begins in Steinbrenner's mirror. His brew of impatience, impetuousness and wealth led to the purchase of one star after another. That brought great players. But like eating too much cake, there was bad, as well. The higher the payroll, the more intense the pressure on the group, the more disjointed and inflexible the roster, and - most important - the more likely you were buying veterans nearing dips in performance, health and motivation.
It is easy to see, after succumbing to Verlander, Zumaya and Jeremy Bonderman, that the Yanks need more young, big-time arms, and Hughes might have the minors' biggest arm. Hughes and Chien-Ming Wang could front a rotation for years. But this version of the Yanks really needs that to happen quickly, for Hughes to be akin to probable AL Rookie of the Year Verlander and not like Bonderman, who has taken several years to develop fully. And, of course, five years ago, some teams thought Nick Neugebauer and Nate Cornejo were no-doubt pitching stars. If you are asking, "Who?" the answer is, "Exactly." There are no sure things.
And it looks like it's going to be a long and eventful winter in Yankeeland. Whether Torre goes or stays, I suspect the winds of change will be blowing in the Bronx.
So, what's Bubba doing in the off-season? Haven't a clue, actually. I looked at some of the winter league sites, and didn't see his name. He has played winter ball in the past, though not regularly.
Here's a March 11, 2005 article from the New York Post:
Crosby Holds Hope Of Being Fourth OF
Bubba Crosby doesn't normally swing a bat after the season ends, but this past offseason was different.
Crosby was frozen out from hitting for as many as 19 days during the 2004 season and didn't want a repeat in 2005. So once the Yankees' postseason ended, Crosby worked out for three weeks at his Houston home and went to Puerto Rico to play winter ball for Ponce.
"I realized being the fifth outfielder, I was specifically a role player," Crosby said yesterday. "I was there for pinch-running purposes and defensive purposes.
"So I felt like I had kind of a lost a season offensively."
Determined to hone his swing, he trained up until Thanksgiving. He took a break when tendinitis flared up in his left elbow, but arrived here to work out on Feb. 13 — before the reporting date for pitchers and catchers.
So far, it has paid off. Five games into the Grapefruit League season, Crosby has a leg up on his backup outfield competition of Doug Glanville and Damian Rolls. After going 0-for-1 last night in the Yanks' 8-0 win over the Blue Jays, Crosby is batting .286 (4-for-14) with a homer and six RBIs.
AVG OBP SLG
.444 .444 .444
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
Crosby bounces back from setbacks with 51s
Outfielder returns after hamstring injury, tough move up in '01
Making the progression from Double-A to Triple-A can be daunting, but at least outfielder Bubba Crosby had the chance to discover the differences when he was promoted to the 51s last August.
That experience, as well as winter ball in Venezuela, gave him an understanding of what to expect this season when he started in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Dodgers' top farm club.
"I kind of got overpowered a little bit and humbled a lot when I first got here last year," Crosby said before Monday's game against Fresno at Cashman Field. "Balls got on me a lot quicker than I expected, and there were a few pitches out there that I didn't see that much of in Double-A.
"I think having the month out here last year and going and playing winter ball helped prepare me a lot for this year."
Crosby was the Dodgers' first-round pick of the 1998 draft, and he is listed by Baseball America as the organization's No. 24 prospect.
After working his way to Double-A last season, he batted .302 at Jacksonville, Fla. His promotion to Las Vegas was difficult, with a .214 average to underscore the leap. Crosby rejoined Jacksonville for the playoffs and went 5-for-13 for four RBIs.
With the 51s this season, Crosby has three hits in 12 at-bats, including going 1-for-3 on Monday.
"Seeing him in spring training and now, the talent he does have, you see it's there," 51s manager Brad Mills said. "You've just got to try to get him to be consistent and use the ability that he has. He can run, he has a chance to hit, he's got a good arm. So those types of things, you just try to utilize. You know he swings the bat well because of the numbers he's had in the past."
This season didn't begin the way Crosby had hoped because of a hamstring injury suffered in spring training. He went on the disabled list, and didn't come off until Saturday.
"It did set him back because he was late starting the season," Mills said. "I asked him today how he felt -- and he's played, what, two or three days in a row now -- and he said, `I felt like I ran a marathon.'"
The problem with hamstring injuries is they often linger.
"I'm glad it only took two weeks," Crosby said. "Hamstrings can take longer than that. I'm glad I'm playing now because it could've been a lot worse.
"I have some tightness. I've pulled my hamstring before, and it usually takes a couple of weeks after you actually get out there. It protects itself. I'd say I'm still maybe a week and a half or so from being right at game speed where I'd like to be."
No word yet on the Torre front. The press has been camping outside his house and at Yankee Stadium, hoping for news. Some in the Yankee organization are supposedly trying to change the Boss' mind about firing Torre; Steinbrenner is reportedly calming down. Torre may yet survive.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Yankees' humiliating collapse, the finger-pointing and backbiting has begun.
The Daily News back page says we should Blame Jeter:
It makes me rethink the whole MVP debate. I wrote a handful of times that I thought Jeter deserved the award this season, and I still think he did more on the field to help his team than anybody else.
But in light of the Motown Meltdown, and all that it revealed about this team, I have to question how Jeter could be the MVP in a season in which he wouldn't make the slightest effort to offer a hand when A-Rod was flailing in quicksand.
The Yankees have become addicted to the All-Star-at-every-position philosophy, and the bloating that's followed is found in more than just the payroll. The Yankees' egos are such that they no longer hustle their way to victories. Instead, they've been relying on nuclear superiority.
Most of the time, it worked. That lineup was indeed the best the American League has seen in decades, maybe ever. But there's still no substitute for hard work and old school enthusiasm. When the Yankees ran into a young team that refused to be intimidated, such as the Tigers, "They just curled up and died" said one major league executive. The Yankees somehow became convinced they could win by simply being the Yankees. They had no Plan B, and that's because Torre was so withdrawn from his troops.
There are reports that Torre will get fired on Monday and replaced by Lou Piniella. If true, it means the following:
● The Yankees become A-Rod's team, not Jeter's. Piniella is an A-Rod guy and if he is the new manager, A-Rod won't be going anywhere. Jeter, Posada, Bernie and Mariano would be furious.
● Brian Cashman is a figurehead and George Steinbrenner and his toadies still run the show.
● The coaching staff will change dramatically. I'm not sure Mattingly and Guidry would stay or whether Piniella would even want them.
● I suspect this may be true. But I also think that Steinbrenner could have reacted in knee-jerk fashion and there is still time for his his son-in-law, Steve Swindal, to get the Boss to change his mind before it becomes official.
● If the Yankees choose A-Rod over Torre, which is what this would be, it's style over substance. Torre has to get some blame for what has happened. But it's not his fault he was saddled with so many one-dimensional players and mercenary types.
I suspect we will all learn much more on Sunday.
His uniform is dirty. He gives you a boost. When you see a guy out there like Lenny Dykstra gettin' dirty, you want to get dirty, too.
October 6, 2006: Detroit 8, N.Y. Yankees 3
It's over. I can hardly believe it. I wasn't one of those who thought the Yanks would roll to an easy World Series victory, but I thought they'd get past the first round. Or at least put up more of a fight before going down.
Torre's lineup tinkering didn't help. It may even have hurt. A-Rod was 0 for 3 in the eight-hole. Melky Cabrera went 0 for 3 as well. Sheff played 1B poorly, which cost us. And he didn't make up for it with his bat. He should not have been on the post-season roster. Giambi should have been playing against the RHP...and he'd have played 1B better, too.
This is an old, tired, one-dimensional team. We need youth and speed and defense, and situational hitters who can do something other than swing harder when slugging isn't working.
All kinds of rumors are flying. Torre will be fired Monday. A-Rod's days in pinstripes are over. Cashman may be fired, too. Dunno how reliable those rumors are, but I expect some big changes after this shocking early exit.
Paul O'Neill made it clear that he thought everyone except Jeter and Posada had phoned it in. Brian Cashman was disappointed and stunned, and said the team had "fooled" him.
"That's what is so disappointing. This team, it had something. At least I thought it did. That, 'I'll find a way to beat you.' They fought through a lot this year. But you have to continue to earn that every day and we did not here in October. It turned out to be a hell of a regular-season team. No more."
In a shocker, Joe has moved A-Rod down to eighth in today's lineup:
Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Gary Sheffield 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Peter Abraham's report from the clubhouse:
I'm never surprised much in this business. But A-Rod hitting eighth was a stunner. "I didn't talk to him," Torre said. "He's one member of the team and we're all trying to get something accomplished."
Or, in other words, when we come to you in two months, accept the trade to Anaheim you howling dog.
October 6, 2006: Detroit 6, N.Y. Yankees 0
One-time Yankee Kenny Rogers pitched the game of his life last night. It was unbelievable. As a Yankee fan, I found it extremely aggravating...but as a baseball fan, I had to admire his performance. It was just amazing. After the game, he said he never wanted a game as much as this one...and it showed.
Unlike many other Yankee fans, I did not think Detroit would be a pushover. Still, I was not expecting our Murderers' Row lineup to be shut out by Kenny Rogers, of all people.
The press is still blaming A-Rod, with articles like "A-Rod Flops Again, This Time in Cleanup Spot." Er...what about the rest of the lineup? Posada was the only one who had more than one hit last night. Damon, Abreu, Giambi, and Bernie were all hitless, too.
Speaking of Abreu...he had a terrible night. Mr. OBP didn't get on base much (though he did get one walk). He also let a ball drop in a couple of feet in front of him in RF, that let a run score. Bubba would have gotten that one. He may have had to dive for it, but he'd have gotten it. But Abreu won't dive. I could see that during the regular season. It's a long season, and he doesn't want to risk injury. In the post-season, though...what is he saving it for?
I find Abreu frustrating, because he clearly has a lot of talent. I don't think he deserved the Gold Glove he won, but he's a decent fielder and has good speed. But he's rather lacking in hustle. Shies away from walls, lets balls drop in in front of him, doesn't want to play CF. Can't expect a star like Abreu to crash into walls like Bubba Crosby, you say? But Johnny Damon, who's just as big a star, if not bigger, crashes into walls and dives for balls with the best of them. He's also said he's willing to move to any position that would help the team...even playing first base one night.
Sigh. I am not writing the Yankees off. They can win today, and tomorrow. They are good enough, and they are due to get some hits.
But Detroit has exposed the Yankees' weakness. They are a one-dimensional team...that isn't big on teamwork.
This isn't the team of kids and castoffs that scratched and clawed their way through the season with so much heart. They're back to being a collection of all-stars, rather than a team.
Paul O'Neill noted last night that when the Yankees fall behind, they start to get anxious at the plate. No one trusts the guy behind him to get the job done, so everyone starts swinging for the fences.
Remember the beginning of the season, before Sheff and Matsui went down? It was almost a joke, the way the Yanks couldn't win a game unless they scored at least nine runs. If it was close or low-scoring, they lost. We seem to be reverting to that pattern, which is unfortunate. You need to be able to win some pitchers' duels in the post-season.
Joe Torre always says that pitching and defense wins championships. But the teams he assembles are always heavy on the big bats, and light on the pitching and defense he says are so important. Like Albert Einstein said, "Insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Watching Detroit play the Yankees, I'm reminded of the 1960 World Series. The Yankees had a killer lineup that year, too. If they just counted up all the runs, the Yanks would have won easily.
But it was the Pirates that ended up winning the World Series. They got blown out in some games (3-16, 0-10, 0-12), but won the close, low-scoring games. In the end, they prevailed, with a walkoff homer by Bill Mazeroski - still the only Game 7 walkoff homer in World Series history. Pittsburgh could not score nearly as many runs as the Yankees, but they had a more versatile game. Pitching, defense, speed, small ball, long ball...that's what it takes to be a champion. That's what we used to have, in the dynasty years.
October 5, 2006: Detroit 4, N.Y. Yankees 3
Well, Detroit is putting up more of a fight than many expected. They took Game 2, which means it's now a three-game series.
The game originally scheduled for Wednesday night was rained out. Today was supposed to be a travel day; instead, they played Game 2 at 1:00pm.
I did not see this game. Like many fans, I was at work. I thought about taking the day off. If Bubba were playing, I definitely would have stayed home to watch the game. But there's a big project due at the office, and I decided it wasn't worth playing hooky to watch this sadly Bubba-less roster. Given how it turned out, I'm glad I didn't waste the vacation time.
Four runs wasn't enough to win Tuesday, but it did the job for the Tigers today. I was peeking in on the box score via the Internet from time to time, and it didn't look good. This is not a team that's built to win pitchers' duels. Things were looking up for the Yanks after the three-run 4th inning, but Moose gave it all back over the next three innings.
Some fans are pinning the loss on Moose. Since I didn't see the game, I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand, the Yankees should be able to win a game where the other team scores only four runs. OTOH, Moose did make some bad pitches in key situations. Some think he doesn't have what it takes to pitch in high-pressure situations. Others say he just has really bad luck, or even that he's a jinx.
The mainstream media appears to be sticking to the tried and true: blaming A-Rod. He is undeniably struggling in the post-season. It's painful to watch. Robby Cano is struggling just as much, and has stranded even more runners on base, but no one's going to blame a kid playing his first full year in the majors.
Leyland credited the time of the day, among other things, for the victory. The afternoon shadows made it very difficult for hitters. So I guess we can blame the weather, too. If not for the rainout, the game would have been played at night. No shadows. (We need a retractable roof, dammit.)
Detroit deserves credit, too, of course. Particularly their bullpen. Walker, Zumaya, and Jones were lights-out. Proctor and Bruney weren't bad, either, though Proctor continued his habit of giving up leadoff walks.
Someone posted a comment pointing out that Bubba hit a homer off Joel "100 mph" Zumaya during spring training this year. Good memory. In a spring training game on March 26, 2006, Bubba did indeed hit a game-winning two-run homer, tagging Zumaya with the loss.
I couldn't find any video of the event, but here are a couple of short audio clips. The Detroit broadcast is kind of funny. The announcers are so busy gushing over what a great pitcher Zumaya is that they're practically ignoring Bubba's at-bat...until he forces them to take notice, by hitting it out of the park. LOL! The New York broadcast gives a little more info. The outfielders were playing in, really shallow. Even if the ball hadn't gone out of the park, it would have been a hit, because they were so far in. Hah! That'll teach you to have some respect for the Bubba.
October 3, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 8, Detroit 4
This game was closer than the score indicates. Robertson had one bad inning, giving up 5 runs; aside from that, he did pretty well against "Murderers' Row." Wang did not have his best stuff; he seemed to be a little nervous, and was overthrowing a bit. He gave up more fly balls, including a monster homer, than he usually does.
So many Yankees fans were chewing their fingernails last night. I was hoping for a more relaxing game, at home with our ace on the mound.
Sheff had a pretty solid night on defense. I'm still a little nervous about him playing 1B, but he was fine last night.
Jeter had a terrific night. 5 for 5, with a homer. A-Rod went only 1 for 4. Cano seemed nervous at the plate, going 0 for 4.
At the top of the 8th, Torre put in Phillips for Sheffield, but did not put Melky in for Matsui. Matsui is not bad on defense, unlike Bernie Williams and Ruben Sierra last year. Indeed, our outfield is pretty solid defensively now, and a LIDR isn't really necessary.
A few weeks ago, someone - I can't remember who - pointed out that in the end, it was Mike Myers who cost Bubba Crosby his job. Bubba was DFA'd to make room for another pitcher...who was necessary because of Myers. The Yankees did not have a LOOGY on staff last year, and hence had room for Bubba. But with Myers taking up a full roster spot but only being used to get the occasional lefty out...well, that means there's basically one less roster spot this year than last. And it was Bubba who paid the price.
It wasn't worth it. Myers has been terrible lately, and was again last night. He was brought in to get Granderson out in the 7th...and gave up a home run.
Indeed, the bullpen was the only real bad news about this game. They were lucky they did as well as they did; the Tigers are a young, impatient team, or it would have been worse. Myers gave up that homer. Brought in with two outs and none on, Proctor gave up two hits before getting that last out. Farnsworth walked the leadoff batter, and nearly walked the next guy, too. Not reassuring.
And now Torre is saying they'll use Farnsworth back-to-back, if necessary. Oy. Has he forgotten that Farnsworth is not very good used two days in a row?
The Yankees announced tonight's lineup yesterday:
Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Gary Sheffield 1B
Jason Giambi DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Interesting that A-Rod was dropped from the cleanup spot to 6th. Of course, the media is making a big deal about the "demotion." A-Rod hasn't been doing that badly, though.
I suspect this is more about Sheff than about A-Rod. Matsui was put at the bottom of the order when he was coming back from injury. He's the kind of guy who'll do anything he's asked. Sheff...even when he first came back and was clearly struggling, he always batted fifth. I can't help but suspect it's because he'd have raised a stink otherwise.
Earlier in the season, Torre was batting A-Rod and Sheff back-to-back, third and fourth or fourth and fifth. But that is clearly a waste in a lineup that doesn't have many righties. Someone had to be dropped to sixth, and it was A-Rod...because he won't make a fuss about it.
In other news...teams that didn't make the postseason are already making "personnel changes." Dusty Baker got the boot in Chicago. San Franscisco fired Felipe Alou. Joe Girardi meets with Marlins officials this morning, and is expected to be fired. The Marlins want to hire Fredi Gonzalez, and they're afraid if they wait too long, someone else will grab him.
UPDATE: As expected, Joe Girardi was fired this morning. Five hours later, the Marlins announced that Fredi Gonzalez has been hired as the new manager.
Girardi was sad about being fired, but says he's confident he'll land on his feet. I am, too. Good luck, Joe! (And please remember Bubba!)
October 1, 2006: Toronto 7, N.Y. Yankees 5
The regular season, that is. I can hardly believe it. Seems like only yesterday I was all excited because pitchers and catchers were reporting for spring training.
Bernie Williams was manager for the last game of the season. Though Torre took over some decisions at the end. Notably, he pinch-hit Bernie for Cairo with two outs in the 9th - to give the fans a chance to say good-bye, just in case Bernie doesn't return next year. Bernie hit a double, and fans went crazy. Unfortunately, Joe didn't pinch-hit A-Rod for Andy Phillips; Andy struck out to end the game.
Jeter didn't cut Bernie any breaks, teasing him: "He lost! He lost! It was kind of selfish pinch-hitting himself there."
But that wasn't the worst ribbing Bernie took. He said after the game, George Steinbrenner called him up and said, "You're fired!"
Mike Mussina won a coin toss and beat out Mariano Rivera to be the pitching coach for the day. He seemed to be taking it very seriously, but also having fun. I don't think I've ever seen him smile as happily as he was before the game.
Jaret Wright had a fairly typical outing, for him. Five innings, four earned runs. It should have been enough to win, except the Yankees offense struggled. They drove Jays starter McGowan from the game in the 3rd inning. Accardo was terrible in relief, giving up three earned runs in 1.1 innings. But then Josh "Control" Towers came in, and pretty much shut the Yankees down for four innings.
The game was tied 5-5 going into the 9th inning. Farnsworth got the first two outs easily, but gave up a two-run homer before getting out of the inning. Probably just as well. The game was meaningless, so the last thing Torre wanted was extra innings.
Still, Farnsworth's performance didn't exactly inspire confidence.
Jeter was batting second, and Cano was batting 9th. Some fans suspected Bernie of helping his old pal Jeter while sabotaging Cano by batting him last. If that was the plan, it didn't work.
No Yankee except Robinson Cano (2 for 4) got more than one hit. Jeter went 1 for 5, with only one RBI. He ended up with 97 RBIs this year. Mauer went 2 for 4, so he won the batting title easily. (Congrats to young Joe. A catcher winning the batting title is pretty special, even if he's not a Yankee. And he's only 23 - younger than Cano. His best years are still ahead of him.)
Hopefully, Jeter will win the MVP. He deserves it this year. I think he wants another World Series ring more than any individual award, though. And this year, the Yanks have a good chance to win. Their pitching is not that great, but no one else's is, either. This year, a lineup of big bats could win it all.
And if they do, I hope they remember the contributions Bubba made, and vote him a check and a ring. He deserves it.
Roberts, listed at 5-9, 175, hit 18 home runs in 561 at-bats last season, matching his combined total through the previous six years in the major and minor leagues.