All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, July 31, 2009

A cup of coffee for Shelley?

Shelley Duncan was called up today. Chien-Ming Wang was moved to the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot for him on the 40-man, and Jonathan Albaladejo was optioned to Scranton to clear a spot on the 25-man. Though Duncan might not be with the big club for long.

Six years ago today, Bubba became a Yankee in a last-minute, deadline deal. Today, the Yankees made another deadline deal, though it was a small one. They traded minor league catcher Chase Weems to the Reds, for utility infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston can play every position except pitcher and catcher, and seems to be Gardner's replacement.

Either Cody Ransom or Shelley Duncan will be cut to make room for Hairston tomorrow, and it sounds like it will be Duncan, simply because he's not as versatile as Ransom.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:36 PM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Dreaded Injury Bug

The Yankees announced tonight that Chien-Ming Wang will be out for at least 12 months, recovering from shoulder surgery. That means he'll likely miss next season, or most of it.

And that's assuming all goes well. A lot of baseball players never come back from shoulder surgery.

Bummer. Wang is one of my favorite players, but it's starting to look like the Yankees were right not to give him a big contract like they gave Cano. They told him it was because pitchers were more prone to injury than position players.

And Brett Gardner is on the DL, too. The Yankees are going with only one CFer: Melky Cabrera. Girardi said they'd be calling up a right-handed bat tomorrow, expected to be Shelley Duncan. I like Duncan, and he deserves a shot...but I really think the Yanks need another CFer. Johnny Damon can barely handle LF these days, let alone center. It's not just the possibility of injury; Melky can't even get a day off to rest with no backup CFer.

Unfortunately, the Yankees don't have any center fielders stashed in Scranton. There's Austin Jackson, but he's a stud prospect, and they aren't going to call him up to be a reserve outfielder. They probably aren't going to bench Melky so Jackson can play every day, either.

Funny how the Yanks used to be so deep in good defensive outfielders. Bubba Crosby, of course. Kevin Reese. Kevin Thompson. Now they have no one they can call up.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:48 PM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cardboard Crosby: Topps 2005

This card is dated 2005, which means the photo and stats are from the 2004 season.

The back gives Bubba a "5" rating. Not sure on what scale.

It says:

> HR in 1st MLB start
> Solid speed and glove

Key to success: effective line drive swing


Crosby's makeup and his ability to do most everything acceptably makes him a viable extra outfielder for the Yankees.

This has the look of a card that was knocked out quickly. Not one of my favorites.


posted by BubbaFan, 9:51 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard 'Round the World

I wasn't born when Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard 'round the world. I can't remember even hearing about it before reading this book, to tell you the truth. But then, I wasn't raised in a baseball family. (I have heard about the supposedly less famous Bill Mazeroski Game 7 walkoff homer...but that game involved the Yankees. So perhaps my knowledge of baseball history is a bit Yankee-centric.)

Surprisingly, no one knows what happened to Thomson's home run ball after it cleared the fence. Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard 'Round the World is the story of sportswriter and filmmaker Brian Biegel's two-year long attempt to trace the historic ball.

It's a fascinating, though flawed book. It seems to be a sort of afterthought to Biegel's film, which tells the same story. The structure and style of the book seems better suited to a film than a book.

It's not a long book; I read it in about the time it takes to play a baseball game. But there's a lot going on it. There's the personal story, where Biegel details his struggles with depression and panic attacks, and describes how his family helped him, and how he tried to help them in return. There's the historical story, which paints a picture of what New York was like in 1951. And there's there the mystery: what really happened to the ball? It's perhaps too much to cram into such a small book, at least for this particular author.

The personal story is the weakest. Biegel's style is probably well-suited for documentaries and sports journalism, but seems rather flat and superficial for his personal struggles. He breezes over the account of his mental illness and recovery so perfunctorily it trivializes them. They become a distraction, taking away from the story rather than adding to it. The constant me, me, me also got a bit tiresome. (Though perhaps he felt he had to include that, since until the very end, he wasn't sure the mystery would be solved. If it wasn't, than the story of his personal redemption would have to carry the book.)

The history is more interesting. I suspect New Yorkers old enough to remember the era get the most out of it; for them, it's an evocative nostalgia trip. But it's also interesting for the rest of us.

Of course I knew things were different back in 1951, but this book drove home how those differences affected people. TV was brand new; one reason "The shot heard round the world" was so affecting was that it was one of the first games aired on national television. Baseball games, even playoff games and the World Series, were played during the day, which meant torture for fans who had to be in school or at work. There were many local newspapers, and the style of morning and evening papers were different. (This would turn out to be an element in the mystery.) There were no digital cameras back then; instead, one plate at time was loaded into the huge, bulky camera. The photographer had to choose his moment carefully, because it took so long to re-load the camera that there would be no second chance to get the shot. (Surprisingly, the photographer who took the iconic shot of the event didn't get a cent, at least in his lifetime.)

Baseball also mattered to people much more then. It truly was America's pastime, and the various people Biegel encounters during his quest all seem to remember exactly what they were doing when Thomson hit that historic home run. Some remembered it as the happiest moment in their lives. Some were scarred for life. Some were led to their life's vocation. It's hard to imagine any baseball event being so affecting today. There are too many teams, too many games, too much baseball coverage, for any one game to carry such weight.

Biegel introduces the major characters in the book with a short biography, describing what role the shot heard 'round the world played in each one's life. This is interesting at first, but gets tedious after awhile. The gimmick might work better in the film (which I haven't seen, but would like to). Or maybe I just got impatient, as the mystery grew more compelling.

The mystery is by far the best part. That's what pulled me through the book at breakneck speed. It's what makes it worth putting up with the book's flaws. The twists and turns Biegel encounters while searching for the ball are incredible. Everything from forensic analysis of a photo found in a flea market to a comment by an anonymous man at a Shop-Rite play a role. Promising leads turn into dead ends, and new clues arrive just when all seems hopeless. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

In fact, some of the coincidences seem so improbable that I can't help wondering if the story has been embellished somewhat. Even if it has, it's a great story. I don't want to spoil the ending, but you won't feel cheated by it. Biegel makes a good case for what happened to the ball and why it stayed hidden so long. I don't think his case for where the ball is now is as solid, but that's a minor matter. Just about any baseball fan will enjoy this book.

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posted by BubbaFan, 7:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey Now, You're an All-Star

The Triple-A All-Star Game is tonight. It's airing on ESPN2 - starting at 10pm. For some reason, it's in Portland, Oregon. Bizarre. Bud Selig agreed to start the World Series before 8pm for the first time in 30 years this year, because the games were so late in the eastern time zone. But the AAA All-Star Game starts at 10pm. Go figure.

The Yankees have two outfielders on the IL team this year: Austin Jackson in CF and Shelley Duncan in left. Drew Stubbs, probably the top prospect in the Reds system, is in right.

Six years ago tomorrow, Bubba Crosby was playing in the AAA All-Star Game. He started in right field, for the PCL.

And five years ago yesterday, Andy Phillips had a spectacular night playing in the AAA All-Star Game. He played 2B, and hit a walkoff homer in the 10th. He was chosen MVP.

Even better, the game was played in Pawtucket that year - the Red Sox AAA affiliate. (Andy is quite the Sox-killer. He homered in his first big league at-bat - at Fenway.)


posted by BubbaFan, 10:28 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Disaster Relief Pitcher

The pride of Rice University, Paul Janish, had another stint as a relief pitcher last Monday. Once again, it was because the game was a hopeless blowout, and Dusty Baker wanted to spare his bullpen. Janish was hoping to lower his 45 ERA; instead he increased it. He did get through the inning, though, and that's all Dusty wanted. He called Janish a hero for keeping the pen fresh.

Driveline Mechanics analyzed Janish's pitching, and think he's good enough that he should be moved from SS to relief pitcher. He did break 90 mph, which is pretty impressive for a non-pitcher.

And I love this interview with Janish.

Being the magnanimous guy he is, Janish was cool enough to review his pitching exploits with Half-Year in Review.

• On roaring into the books alongside Johnny Lindell: "You know, records are made to be broken. And I'm definitely breaking records. They're just the wrong damn records."

• On his picturesque delivery (as a former college closer): "Yeah, it's smooth, all right. But apparently, 88-89 [mph] on a string is not going to work."

• On his ERA (45.00 after his first outing, 49.50 after his second): "When I came in there, I figured, well, the good thing is, at least I'll bring my ERA down. It started at 45.00, so it would be tough to go up -- but I found a way."

• On whether he thought he could now pitch 31 straight shutout innings and get his ERA down into the 3.00s: "I think I'm out of luck. … What I really need to do is talk to my agent to see if we can bring this up in arbitration: multi-faceted player."

• On his proudest achievement as a pitcher: "Well, I did get a standing O in Philly. And not many visiting players can say that."

Gotta love a guy with a sense of humor.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:13 PM | link | 1 comments |

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Crime Report

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz is in trouble again. He's in jail for allegedly battering his ex-wife.

And Steve McNair has been found shot to death. It's unclear if it's a double homicide or a murder-suicide.

McNair was only 36 - young enough to still be playing. He was the first round draft pick of the Houston Oilers in 1995. My friend D. always used to tell me that "Air" McNair was one of the best (and underrated) quarterbacks in the NFL.

McNair had just opened a restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:09 PM | link | 2 comments |

Happy 4th

Baseball commemorative Oreos

Alas, poor Paul Janish. He was finally getting some playing time with the Reds, after Adam Rosales was sent down. He didn't hit as well as he had earlier in the season. (Perhaps not surprisingly, since he was so buried on the bench I sometimes wondered if he'd been abducted by aliens or something.) His glove had been solid...until last night, when he made an error that resulted in the Cardinals taking the lead (and eventually winning). Ball took a tough hop and bounced off his belly. It was a tougher play than it looked, but still...I bet he didn't sleep too well last night.

Edwin Encarnacion is back in the lineup, so Janish probably won't getting much playing time. Have a cookie, kid, and make yourself comfortable on the bench. You'll probably be there for awhile.

Looks like Andy Phillips was 1 for 5 in yesterday's (today's) game. Wish I could find a site that gave box scores in English.

Happy Fourth of July, all!

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posted by BubbaFan, 2:33 PM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Three games into Andy's Japanese Baseball Career

So far, so good for Andy Phillips. He went 0 for 4 yesterday, but was 2 for 4 with a double today. At least judging from the stats posted here.

"Carpfan" posted this cool link. It appears to be a URL where you can watch streaming video of Yomiuri Giants baseball games. (That would be Hideki Matsui's former team.) I assume it's live, which means late at night or early in the morning for us Yanks. The Carp play the Giants again in early August; if I can, I'll check it out then.

This site has some good information about Japanese baseball for English speakers. Andy's page is here. Still not much on it; they are asking for help filling out his biography. And here is the Carp schedule for the year.

They also have information for players who want to play in Japan.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:35 PM | link | 3 comments |