Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
Bubba Crosby and Jason Romano were sitting on the couch in the Dodgers' clubhouse at the Vet in Philadelphia, a couple of rookie reserves staring up at the clock and kidding each other while they waited for it to strike 4 - the trading deadline on July 31, 2003.
Now it was 3:52. Romano elbowed Crosby and said, "You're going to get traded to New York." And they went back and forth, playfully trading names of prospective teams.
Now they were staring up, and it was 3:55 and 40 seconds. Suddenly, Crosby felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked at Romano, and their mouths dropped. Because for all the jokes, they weren't expecting anything to happen this close to the witching hour.
Crosby turned around, and there was third-base coach Glenn Hoffman with a message from manager Jim Tracy.
"Trace wants to see you," Hoffman said.
Then the outfielder found out his destination. The joke was no joke - New York. The Yankees wanted to dump Robin Ventura and his salary since they had just acquired Aaron Boone that day to replace him at third, so they dealt him to L.A. for two prospects, Crosby and hard-throwing righty reliever Scott Proctor.
Well, it looks like Chad Moeller's job may not be safe, after all. The Yanks have traded Farnsworth for Ivan Rodriguez.
My first thought was that the Tigers have gone insane. Giving up Pudge...for Farnsworth? What were they thinking?
But then someone pointed out that Pudge has a full no-trade. He can't be traded anywhere he doesn't want to go, and reportedly, his list of acceptable teams was very short. Possibly only two: Yankees and Red Sox. That pretty much tied Detroit's hands.
This is the kind of break a team like the Reds would never get.
Pudge is hitting very well, and he's right-handed. Just what the Yankees needed. He's the same age as Posada, though, so he's probably not going to be the bridge to Jesus Montero.
The Tigers plan to make Brandon Inge their catcher. And Bronson's brother, Dane Sardinha, will be called up to be backup catcher.
Jorge Posada has decided to have season-ending surgery. The decision was apparently prompted by the fact that the newly acquired Nady provides a good right-handed bat, and by the pain Jorgie experienced while attempting batting practice today.
I love Posada, but I have a feeling the Yankees signed him to too long a contract. Catchers don't age well, and he's not a spring chicken. Even though he was converted to catching relatively late in his career, four years was probably too long.
I guess this means Chad Moeller's job is safe. I like Moeller, who was a Red last season. (The "Nicest Guy In The World," Trent calls him). If someone has to wear Bubba's #19, I don't mind that it's him.
Andy Phillips continues to get maybe one at-bat a few times a week as a pinch-hitter. He got a walk yesterday, and was 0 for 1 today. He's batting .154.
I really don't like the way Dusty uses him. He's not getting to use his glove at all. Dusty's pinch-hitting him against lefties, when he hits righties better than lefties. Andy needs more playing time than he's getting.
My employer, being too cheap to pay overtime, asked me to take a day off this week, to make up for the night shift I did last week. I chose Wednesday, since the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees had a day game that day. I'd like to catch one of their day games. The light is better for action photography during the day, and day games are usually less crowded.
The weather forecast looked good when I made the request, but by Wednesday morning, it was looking a little iffy. The forecast was "scattered thunderstorms." That had been the forecast all week, and we hadn't gotten much rain at all. I looked at the radar, and I looked out the window, and it looked clear, so I decided to go for it.
It was a mistake. Scranton is over two hours away, and apparently in an entirely different weather zone. It wasn't raining when I set out, but the closer I got to Pennsylvania, the worse the weather got. By the time I got to Scranton, it was pouring. Like, buckets coming down. I pretty much figured the game would be rained out, but I'd come so far already, I decided to continue. Sure enough...the game was rained out. So I turned around and headed home. The rain was even worse on the way back. I nearly skidded off the road at one point; the highway looked like a river. But as I approached the NY border, it stopped raining. The pavement wasn't even wet, and I realized that it was only raining in Scranton. Figures. What a waste of gas.
I am going to try again next month, though. I think they only have one weekday day game a month, so it's not like there are a lot of chances.
I did stop at a scenic lookout on the way home to take a few photos. It was cloudy, but not raining.
It's an infrared photo - taken using light on wavelenths the human eye can't see. That's why the trees and other vegetation look so pale.
Mark Bellhorn isn't the only former Yankee now playing in Double-A. Bronson Sardinha is, too. He's still with the Akron Aeros, the Indians' AA team.
Sardinha was the Yankees' first round draft pick a few years ago, and they wanted to keep him. Cruel roster math meant they had to DFA him, even though he had options left. It was the only way to get him off the 40-man roster to make room for Andy Pettitte.
This meant Sardinha became a free agent. He could sign with any team, and even though the Yankees made him a good offer, he turned them down, deciding to seek his fortune elsewhere.
He ended up with the Seattle Mariners...but not for long. He was assigned to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers and was hitting well, but only a few weeks into the season, he was put on the suspended list, then released. The suspended list usually means you did something wrong, and sure enough, he admitted that it was an off the field mistake that got him released. The Rainiers were on the road, in Fresno, and just left Sardinha there when they moved on.
Sardinha wouldn't say what his mistake was. CriminalSearches.com to the rescue. Putting in his first name, last name, and birth date reveals a misdemeanor, code VC23152(B). Googling VC23152(B) reveals that it's this section of the law:
VC 23152: Alcohol and or Drugs: (b) It is unlawful for any person who has a .08 percent or more by weight to drive a vehicle.
Just noticed that Mark Bellhorn is with the Jacksonville Suns. That's the Dodgers' AA team. A lot of former Yankees seem to have followed Torre to the Dodgers. But I must say, I'm kind of surprised that Bellhorn's in AA.
I think the Suns won the Southern League championship the year Bubba played for them.
Well, anyone who expected Santana vs. Cueto to be a pitchers' duel last night got a surprise. The Reds knocked Santana around, driving him from the game after only four innings. He gave up six hits, three walks, and five earned runs, and was already at 92 pitches.
Unfortunately, Cueto also had a rough night. He pitching 5.1 innings, giving up six hits, six earned runs, and three walks.
But it was the pen that lost the game for the Reds. They were leading 8-6 going into the ninth, but their big-money closer, Francisco Cordero, imploded on the mound. He gave up four runs, including a two-run homer, before being pulled for Bill Bray.
Andy Phillips pinch-hit in the 6th. He hit a single.
Alas, I didn't get to see it. I had to work. Actually, I didn't have to work; I volunteered. At the time, I thought the Mets-Reds game was going to be a day game. They changed the schedule on me.
I did get to see some huge concrete beams laid for a new bridge, though.
They closed the highway below the bridge, just in case something happened and the beam dropped. The traffic was insane. You wouldn't expect there to be so much traffic at 10pm at night, but there was. It was backed up forever.
The Mets are in Cincinnati today, to play the Reds. So once again, Andy Phillips will face one of his former teams. He's not the starting lineup, but hopefully he'll get into the game later on, so his fans in NY get a chance to see him play.
I won't be watching this game, alas. I'll be working tonight. Out on a bridge construction projgect, watching them lay new beams. And probably getting soaked. It was supposed to be a nice night when I signed up for this, but now they're predicting violent thunderstorms. It's already raining a little. :-P
I'm kinda bummed I'm missing this one. It's Santana vs. Cueto.
The Triple-A All-Star Game is tonight. The PCL is currently beating up on the IL, but the IL hasn't given up yet.
The Yankees had only one player named to the All-Star team: Justin Christian. He has since been called up, so I think that means the Yankees have no players in the All-Star game. The Reds have two players: catcher Ryan Hanigan, and pitcher Jon Adkins.
Five years ago (to the day), the 16th annual Triple-A All-Star Game was in Memphis, and Bubba Crosby was the starting right fielder. For the PCL, of course, since he was in the Dodgers system back then.
At the time Bubba was selected, he was the only player who was batting over .400 (his average was .417). It had dropped to .370 by game time, but he was still leading the league. (He would have won the batting title that year, except he was called up and so didn't get enough plate appearances.)
Bubba had an RBI in that game, but in the end, the IL prevailed, 13-9. It was the highest-scoring Triple-A All-Star Game in history. (At least at the time. Dunno if it's since been surpassed.)
Tonight's game is in Louisville, home of the Bats. And it just ended. Despite a 9th inning three-run homer by Pawtucket Red Sock Chris Carter, the PCL won, 6-5. (The Red Sox had five players selected to the All-Star team. Yikes. The next few years could be rough for the Yanks.)
Someone is selling a pair of Bubba's game-used pants on eBay:
They are being auctioned to benefit a scholarship set up in memory of Gary Stymiloski, a New York police officer who died in the line of duty.
It was a very sad and rather bizarre case. Mr. Stymiloski was murdered by a serial killer. And not your everyday killer, but a Hannibal Lector-type serial killer. When they caught Alex Mengel, they found a woman's scalp in his car. He had worn it as a wig, put lipstick on, and tried to abduct a little girl. When they found the woman's remains, they discovered that that skin of her face had been cut off, as well as her scalp. Kind of makes you wonder if he tried to wear his victim's face, as well as her hair.
As if that wasn't weird enough, Mengel was killed before he could stand trial. He was shot by a state trooper during an escape attempt.
The pants are road grays from 2006 (so they're probably long pants). Kind of an odd item. Uniform pants aren't very popular among collectors. I think the usual buyers are the baseball card companies, who cut them up and include them in those special cards that have pieces of the player's uniform on them. But it's for a worthy cause, so hopefully someone will put a bid in.
And if anyone's wondering how that auction for Bubba's Reds jersey went...there were six bids, and the final price was $99.63 (plus $9 shipping). I'm kind of surprised it went for that much, seeing as Bubba never actually played for the Reds except in spring training.
ESPN has been running a series called The Ultimate Race. It's a humorous take on peak oil and global warming, with a supposed competition over which of them will end the world first. Rather an odd subject for a sports site, but I guess it's good that they are raising awareness. I was reminded of it, looking at an array of seemingly unconnected stories in the news today.
The Reds just announced that they are officially moving their spring training camp from Florida to Arizona. Starting in 2010, they'll be in the Cactus League, not the Grapefruit League. I wonder if they are making a mistake.
Sarasota is close enough to Cincinnati that a family can drive down for a long weekend, take in a few games, and go home. Or they can make it a longer vacation, go to the beach, Disney World, etc.
Phoenix is more difficult. You pretty much have to fly, which can be expensive for a family. And Phoenix is less of a family vacation kind of place (though retirees love it).
Obviously, the Reds thought moving to Phoenix made economic sense. Their facilities in Florida are old, and the city of Sarasota wasn't keen on helping them upgrade. But their plans may be based on circumstances that no longer exist.
High oil prices are a game-changer. Oil is pushing toward $150 a barrel - after years of being around $25 a barrel. This is undermining the economy in ways that are only just beginning to be felt. GM might go bankrupt. American Airlines is laying off 200 pilots in an attempt to deal with high fuel prices - the latest in a long line of bad news from airlines. Americans are increasingly worried about the economy, and struggling with high food and fuel prices. There's rising concern that we might be falling into another Great Depression - or worse. The mortgage crisis, Indymac, Freddie, Fannie...even CNN's usually staid Bill Schneider says the economy seems to be "spinning out of control."
Perhaps worst of all is that there doesn't seem to be an end to it. The politicos keep saying it's almost over - that we're in the bottom of the ninth. But this might actually be just the top of the second, or even the singing of the national anthem.
A lot of people are hanging in there, hoping prices go back down and the economy bounces back. But what if it's not temporary? What if we are transitioning to a world of permanently higher energy prices, maybe even energy shortages?
The sports world is not immune. I doubt Derek Jeter will ever have to worry about paying for gas for his Ford Edge...but as people cut back on things like cable subscriptions, even the superstars of baseball will be affected.
And the Jeters of the world might suffer a bit if more banks go belly-up, like Indymac. My bank failed a few months ago, but I didn't lose a penny, because my accounts were under the $100,000 limit for FDIC insurance. (Well under!) But baseball players make more than that in one year, and the ones who make really big bucks probably find it difficult to make sure they don't have more than $100,000 per bank. (Yes, the limit is per bank, not per account. So if you have $100,000 in a savings account and $100,000 in a checking account in the same bank, and it fails, you're only covered for $100,000 total.)
Anyways, I am still hoping and planning to get to spring training for a week or two next year. But the year after, in 2010...who knows. I have a feeling there will be a lot fewer fans in the stands by then.
Labels: The Greater Depression
Holy guacamole. The Home Run Derby was something else last night. I kind of wished I bought a ticket and went down there.
Lance Berkman was leading for awhile in the first round, with 8 home runs, but Josh Hamilton (former Red) left everyone in the dust. He hit 28. It was crazy.
In the end, though,
Joe Mauer Justin Morneau won. Hamilton (or his pitcher) might have been too tired by the third round.
Too bad A-Rod wasn't participating. He's probably the only player as naturally gifted as Hamilton.
Andy Phillips hit a double off Sabathia yesterday in his first at-bat. Alas, the Reds lost, 3-2. Sabathia pitched a complete game.
Reds' infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. was carried off the field last night. He pulled a hamstring, and will be out for awhile. I guess it's job security for Andy. Too bad for Jerry, though. He was having a great year.
I don't care for the All-Star Break. Maybe because I'm used to football, where the all-star game is at the end of the season. That makes sense to me. The season is over, the Super Bowl is in the rear-view mirror. The Pro Bowl eases you into the football-less half of the year. And the players can relax, their battles over, with no need to worry about injuries keeping them out of a real game.
The baseball all-star game, in the middle of the season, is an odd hiccup. The season is heating up, teams are preparing for the stretch run...and suddenly, it's suspended for the all-star game. Yankees are expected to play beside Red Sox, rivalries put aside. And there's always the worry of injury or fatigue (especially with the pitchers). Rather than being a bit of lagniappe to ease you into the off-season, it's an interruption. I want to see real games, darn it.
Ah, well. I'm watching the Home Run Derby anyway. I'm rooting for Bubba's old teammate from Rice, Lance Berkman.
And speaking of Bubba, someone left a comment under an old post today. It said:
Bubba! Girardi loves you! Call him and get your *** out on the field!!!
Christ, Melky is hitting .245 and you're retired? Come on! Bring the spark back! I MISS you dude!
The good news is Andy Phillips is starting today at 1B. (I was beginning to think he'd been abducted by aliens.) The bad news is that it's against CC Sabathia. Yikes. Andy's been sitting on the bench for weeks, and now they throw him in there against Sabathia?
He's probably starting because Dusty Baker wants to stack the lineup with righties. But Andy hits righties better than lefties, at least on the big league level.
Ah, well. Good luck, guy.
Bobby Murcer passed away today. I'm surprised, but only a little. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Christmas Eve, 2006, and a couple of weeks later, they announced that it was malignant. His prognosis wasn't great, but he was always upbeat, and eventually returned to the broadcasting booth. Last March, he had a biopsy; what they had feared was a recurrence of brain cancer proved to be only scar tissue.
But at the end of June, he was forced to cancel his book tour. They made it sound like he was just tired from the treatment, but I guess it was more than that. Less than two weeks later, he was gone.
I never saw Bobby Murcer play, but he was one of my favorite YES announcers. And he was a big supporter of Bubba Crosby. Murcer was pushing for Bubba from his first spring training as a Yankee. Even after the Yankees DFA'd Bubba, Murcer said on YES that he wanted Bubba to be the starting center fielder, not Johnny Damon. He thought Bubba would hit 20 home runs a year if given a chance. He said all the kid needed was some confidence, and implied the Yankees were undermining him by constantly telling him he couldn't hit.
Perhaps Bubba reminded Murcer of himself in his younger days. Murcer had a uphill battle, stepping into the shoes of DiMaggio and Mantle. He struggled a bit at first, but eventually had a fine career.
Bobby Murcer was an active supporter of the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), a nonprofit organization that provides help to former players in need. That would probably be a good charity to donate to in his memory, if you're so inclined.
Rest in peace, Bobby.
The Pirates have traded Craig Wilson to the Mariners. The former Yankee had been playing for the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates' Triple-A club. Seattle is probably hoping he can provide more power at first base than Miguel Cairo.
Wilson was hitting just .230 at Triple-A Indianapolis, but he had managed 10 homers in 217 at-bats, suggesting that his power is back following last year's shoulder surgery. The Mariners could eventually look to use him as part of a platoon at first base.
The Yanks are playing the Pirates tonight - a makeup game for the one that was suspended due to rain.
Former Yankee Doug Mientkiewicz isn't in the lineup tonight. However, he's been invaluable to the Pirates. He was considered a long shot to make the roster out of spring training, but he made it, and now they just love him. He's playing 3B and corner outfield as well as 1B. He's hitting well...and he's providing great leadership in the clubhouse.
But he'd rather be in the Bronx. The last time the Yanks were in Pittsburgh, Minky told the press that the best year of his career was his year with the Yankees, and all he wants is to wear pinstripes again. He really wanted to return this year, but Cashman didn't want him.
Man, that's strange. Even if he did love being a Yankee, you wouldn't expect him to say so, especially right before a game against them. Gotta wonder what his current teammates thought. Maybe they all think the same thing, so it's no big deal. A friend of mine who is a Pittsburgh fan says you can just see the players get beaten down by the constant losing. When they first come up, they're all excited and full of enthusiasm, but eventually, they just kind of give up.
But jeez, Minky hasn't been a Pirate for very long. I find it kind of odd that last year with the Yanks was the best year of his career. He's had a really good career. He hit the game-winning homer that gave the US the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics. He won a Gold Glove when he was a Twin. He was on the Red Sox team that finally won the World Series after 86 years. And last year with the Yanks was the best year of his career? A year when he spent half the season on the DL, and fans called him "Stinky" because he wasn't the power hitter they wanted at 1B?
I'd love to ask him why he loves the Yanks so much. The aura and mystique of the Bronx Bombers? The bright lights of the Big Apple? Or did he just like playing with his boyhood chum, A-Rod?
Came across this item on eBay today. It's one of Bubba's jerseys from spring training last year. Road gray, autographed. And size 48. (The other jerseys of his I've seen on eBay are size 46. Maybe the road grays run small.)
It doesn't say where it came from, but I would guess it was bought at Redsfest. The Reds seem to sell everything short of used bubblegum there.
Nice item. I'm not really a collector, but if I were, I'd be tempted.
Brett Gardner is apparently the Yanks' starting LFer while Damon and Matsui are ailing. He hit a walkoff single in the bottom of the 10th, winning the game for the Yanks.
He's got such good speed I think I'd rather see him in CF and Melky in LF. But I suppose that might make Melky unhappy. As it is, Melky seemed rather possessive tonight, trying to call Gardner off a ball that was clearly the left fielder's.
He does have a good eye. Down 0-2 to Papelbon, he kept fouling off balls, finally getting Papelbon to throw his third best pitch on the 8th pitch of the at-bat. Gardner smacked it up the middle, Cano scored from 2B, and it was game over.
Dunno if young Gardner will stick, but tonight, he was player of the game.
Former Yankee Wil Nieves came up for the Nats today in a similar situation. Like Gardner, he saw eight pitchers off the other team's closer. But he struck out, and the Nats fell to the Reds.
At least he got into the game. Andy Phillips was stuck on the bench. Again.
Strange as it may seem, the Yankees may be short of outfielders. Matsui has a bad knee (and is possibly out for the year). Damon ran into a wall in today's game, and injured his shoulder. Melky Cabrera has been pretty terrible. Shelley Duncan, down in Scranton, dislocated his shoulder diving for a ball and is likely out for the year. He wasn't hitting very well, anyway. Justin Christian got a cup of coffee, but was sent down in favor of Brett Gardner.
Gardner reminds me a bit of Bubba. He's left-handed, and a little guy...even smaller than Bubba. Wears his socks high. He's got a nice glove and crazy speed. Good eye, but not much power. Like Bubba, he's "all ears and enthusiasm." ;-)
Gardner is a player many fans wanted to see get the call. In particular, many have been clamoring for him to take over center field - and for Melky Cabrera to be benched, traded, or sent down.
The other day, Melky got the day off while Gardner started in CF. Gardner had a great game, and Melky looked pretty bummed. He's usually smiling and joking around, but he looked very down that day.
Perhaps it lit a fire under him. Melky was on an 0-for-19 skid until then. The next day, he got two hits. He got another hit today.
Still...I don't think he's the center fielder of the future. At least for the Yankees. He's still young (age 24 next month), but he doesn't seem to be improving:
YEAR AVG OBP SLG OPS
2006 .280 .360 .391 .751
2007 .273 .327 .391 .718
2008 .244 .310 .351 .661
The Mets borrowed Andy for a few days, then returned him to the Reds. Yup, the Reds claimed him off waivers. He is expected to rejoin the team in time for tonight's game against the Nats.
To clear a roster spot, rookie pitcher Daryl Thompson was optioned back to AAA. Thompson stymied the Yankees in his first big league start, but struggled in his next outing. They sent him down to Louisville where he can get regular work.
No word on what the Reds will do when they next need a fifth starter.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Well aware of the importance of eight straight games against the Cardinals and Phillies -- leaders of the National League Wild Card and the NL East, respectively -- the Mets decided to temporarily proceed with an extra pitcher and one less hitter on their roster. That's why the team designated first baseman Andy Phillips for assignment following Monday's game, rather than optioning reliever Carlos Muniz back to Triple-A New Orleans. With seven more critical games to go, the Mets wanted their bullpen as fresh as possible.
"It's an important four-game series after this one," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "And [the Cardinals] are a good team, so you want to have those guys fresh."
It's a temporary measure, which will likely last until Moises Alou can return from the disabled list -- perhaps as soon as this weekend.
Andy Phillips got his first hit as a Met last night. He pinch-hit for the pitcher in the 5th, and singled to left. He scored on an error by CFer Rick Ankiel. Unfortunately for the Mets, it would be the only run they scored all night. Final score: Cardinals 7, Mets 1.
I got my tax rebate check yesterday. Not sure what I'm going to do with it. I should probably save it, but I'm tempted to buy a new lens for my camera. I have a good telephoto lens now, but could use a wide-angle. Something that could get the whole stadium in the frame.
Then again, maybe I should just sign it over to ExxonMobil. Gas is $4.25 a gallon around here now. Half a tank for my little Corolla now costs more than filling the tank of my mid-sized Ford Taurus used to. I bought a smaller car, and I'm still paying more for gas.
This article is about how high gas prices are affecting Americans:
Soaring gas prices forcing lifestyle changes across US
Among other things, we're cutting back on sports:
Kelley Blue Book said that of more than 860 people surveyed, 28 percent had stopped spending money on things like coffee from Starbucks as well as DVDs and CDs. An additional 27 percent said they had stopped attending sports events, while 68 percent said they now shopped less.
Forty-four percent said they are taking shorter holidays because of rising gas prices.