All Things Bubba

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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Flashback: Pretty In Pink

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.

The bat rack on Mother's Day. Bubba's (black) bat is at the bottom right.

Bubba was apparently concerned that people would think he had refused to use a pink bat. Michael Kay had this to say when Bubba came to bat the first time:

Now here's Bubba Crosby, and you'll see Bubba Crosby is using a black bat. He told our Kim Jones, "Please have Mike and Jim say that 'I love my mom, they just didn't give me a pink bat. I would have used it, but I didn't get a pink bat. So that's why I'm using a black bat.' And he also wanted us to say Happy Mother's Day to his mom, Tammy."

Of course, that meant every time he came to bat after that, my obnoxious friends said things like, "Look at that! Bubba's not using a pink bat! He doesn't love his Mom!"

Johnny Damon was DHing, so Bubba started in CF. He batted eighth, with Melky ninth. Randy Johnson was the starting pitcher. He was struggling, but Torre promised his problems had been fixed, and we'd see a new Randy Johnson.

He lied. It was the same inconsistent Randy Johnson we'd been seeing all season. The first inning went on forever - a bad sign. (When Randy has a bad first inning, it usually means his whole game will be bad.) The Big Unit saw eight batters and gave up three runs in that inning. I was half-expecting the Oakland batters to refuse to auction off their "lucky" pink bats for charity, the way they were hitting off Johnson.

Meanwhile, Haren was lights-out. He ended up with the complete game win. The only Yankees score came in the 2nd inning, when Posada homered.

Bubba, in the hole, waiting to congratulate Posada.

Bubba's first at-bat was in the bottom of the 2nd. Cano had grounded out, Posada had homered, and Bernie had struck out, so he was up with two outs and none on.

He got ahead in the count 3-1, but Haren got eventually got him out looking. Bubba was pretty annoyed; he thought he had worked a walk and had started up the first base line already when the call was made.

Bubba hands his lid to the batboy when he realizes the call was "Strike 3" instead of "Ball 4."

Bubba struck out again in the 5th inning. Posada grounded out, Bernie flied out, then Bubba struck out swinging on the fifth pitch he saw.

Bubba came up again, as leadoff hitter in the 8th. He squared to bunt the first pitch, but it was a ball. The second pitch was also a ball. He tried to bunt again on the third pitch, and ended up fouling it off. Finally, he smacked the fourth pitch back up the middle. Base hit to CF, that nearly hit Haren.

Bubba at 1B

So Bubba was on first base with none out and the top of the order coming up. But no one could move him over, let alone bring him home. Melky struck out, Damon flied out. Jeter was up 3-0 at one point; I thought for sure he'd at least get a walk. On 3-1, Bubba tried to steal 2nd, but Jeter flied out, ending the inning.

It was that kind of game. It ended on a bizarre double play. Cano hit what looked like a line drive up the first base line. Swisher caught it on a hop. A-Rod, thinking it was caught in the air, jumped over Swisher to get back to first. Swisher tagged A-Rod and tagged the base: a one-man double-play.

It left everyone massively confused. Torre didn't understand why the game was over. The crowd didn't realize it was over until "New York, New York" started playing.

Some random game comments...

Melky showed both promise and inexperience in this game. In the top of the 8th, he gave up on fly ball that was just foul. Bubba would have gotten the out; Melky didn't even try. OTOH, Melky made a terrific throw in the same inning, which let Posada block the plate, prevent a run, and end the inning. (Yes, Jorgie actually blocked the plate.)

Michael Kay noted that Bubba was frequently used as a LIDR for Melky in LF - not because Melky's bad, but because Bubba's so good. And so fast.

A-Rod had his sixth error of the season, dropping a ball that hit him right in the glove.

Bubba's 1 for 3 for the day was pretty good, all things considered. He did better than most of his teammates against Haren.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:03 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:26 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, October 27, 2006

On the Brink

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 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.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:58 PM | link | 3 comments |

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rained Out

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?

Texas, eh? Well, he'd be close to home at least...

This religious news site mentions Bubba:

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."

Geez. If Bubba was at Bible study with Cory Lidle, in August, in must have been the very day he was DFA'd. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

A lot of baseball blogs from Taiwan, like this one, are mentioning Bubba's name. I don't read Chinese, alas, but running the pages through sounds like there was some kind of documentary released over there, about baseball in Taiwan. And it featured either Wang talking about Bubba, or Bubba talking about Wang. I haven't been able to figure out exactly what was said, but it sounds like it was good. (If forced to guess, I'd say Wang was praising Bubba's defense and hustle in the outfield.)

And closer to home...this woman named her dog after Bubba.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:04 AM | link | 7 comments |

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Girardi will be broadcaster

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 But Bubba's on both lists.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:11 AM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Game 2

Click on the image for a larger version. A much larger version.

Someone asked me if I had a larger, clearer version of the photo that's serving as the logo at the upper right. As a matter of fact, I do, and it's kind of interesting, because you can see writing on Bubba's bat. (Click on the image for a larger version. The larger image won't fit on most computer screens. To get it to display full size in Internet Explorer, hover your mouse over it until the box with arrows appears, and click on it.)

You can see the Louisville Slugger logo. Above that, it says:


IIRC, the C is for Carew. This model of bat was originally made for Rod Carew.

And geez, Bubba. Would it kill ya to shave on picture day?

Some random Bubba links....

The Common Scold's final report gives Bubba some props:

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.

This kid thinks Bubba will make the roster if Bernie retires. I can't see that happening, myself.

One Nationals fan thinks it might be worth signing Bubba as a free agent.

And if Bubba does end up going to Japan, he's already got a fan there. I think.

Game 2 of the World Series tonight. Jeff Weaver vs. Kenny Rogers. Something's gotta give!

posted by BubbaFan, 7:45 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cardboard Crosby: Columbus 2005

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:

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

posted by BubbaFan, 8:02 PM | link | 3 comments |

Subway Series derails

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:23 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


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:

Jesus Colome
Caonabo Cosme
Bubba Crosby
Ben Davis
Jorge De Paula
Danny Garcia
Russ Johnson
Ramiro Mendoza
Frank Menechino
Wil Nieves
Robert Swindle

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:41 PM | link | 2 comments |

Good night, sweet prince

Cory Lidle was laid to rest in California today. A "missing man" formation flew overhead, and mourners were served In-and-Out burgers after the service - reminders of things Lidle enjoyed in life.

Brian Cashman, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, and Joe Torre arrive at Cory Lidle's funeral

Several Yankees were present, including Brian Cashman, Reggie Jackson, Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and Jaret Wright.

I'm surprised Aaron Guiel didn't attend the funeral. He was supposedly Lidle's closest friend on the team. Perhaps he was there, but it wasn't mentioned.

Former Yankee Aaron Small was there. Apparently, he was a boyhood chum of the Lidle twins. They hung out and played baseball together since Small was nine years old. He considered them his younger brothers. Aaron's father, Art, presided over the funeral.

High Flight

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.

Fare thee well, Cory.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:57 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Flashback: Last Year's Finale

Bubba about to hit the first RBI of the game

October 10, 2005: L.A. Angels 5, N.Y. Yankees 3

I was planning to post this earlier this week, closer to the one-year anniversary, but, as the saying goes, it was overtaken by events.

A year ago this week, the Yankees season ended, when they lost Game 5 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

It was a crazy game. All weekend long, there had been rumors that Colon, the Halos' ace, was injured. His start was pushed up to Game 5, further fueling the rumors.

They turned out to be true. Colon had some kind of inflammation in his arm, and was forced to leave the game in the 2nd inning. Santana took his place.

While many thought the Yankees lucked out, I did not. The Yankees never had much trouble with Colon; I'd rather have faced him than Santana.

Top of the second: Cano, off all people, worked a walk off Santana. With Bernie at the plate, Torre called for a hit and run. Unfortunately, Bernie missed the signal. He didn't swing, and Cano was hung out to dry. He was out by a mile.

Santana then walked Bernie and Posada. So Bubba came up with one out, Bernie on 2B, Posada on 1B. The first pitch was way inside. The second was a called strike, knee-high on the inside of the plate. With the count 1-1, Bubba hit a bloop single to right, moving Posada to 3B and scoring Bernie from 2B. First blood drawn by the bat of Bubba! (It would have been two RBIs if not for that botched hit and run. What was Joe thinking? Bernie is not used to being asked to hit and run. He missed a similar signal during the regular season, too.)

Jeter was up next. He flied out to CF. Posada scored from 3B, Bubba held at 1B.

Next up is A-Rod. On a 1-2 count, Bubba takes off for 2B. Uh-oh! It's a pitchout! But Bubba beats the throw anyway. He's safe at 2B.

Unfortunately, A-Rod strikes out swinging, stranding him.

The Yanks had the lead, but it would prove to be short-lived. In the bottom of the second came the play that became the defining moment of the game, maybe even of the series: the collision between Bubba and Sheff in center-right. What should have been the third out of the inning became a two-RBI triple. Which turned out to be the game.

For some inexplicable reason, a lot of people put the blame on Bubba. Probably because Sheff was a big star and Bubba was just a role player. Even the idiotic announcers were saying it was Bubba's fault, supposedly because with a lefty batting, the ball will tend to tail right, and therefore Bubba should have backed off. WTF? Is that the dumbest thing you've ever heard, or what?

Then there were the armchair quarterbacks who decreed that the problem was Bubba was too young and unsure of himself; a more experienced CFer would have "taken charge" of the outfield. Uh, yeah, sure.

The fact is, the ball fell in no-man's land. Neither could really call it, because neither was sure he could get to it. Even if Bubba did call for it, Sheff couldn't hear him, because there was so much noise. (Those dopey thundersticks should be illegal.)

The CFer is in charge of the outfield. Given the noise levels, it was Sheff's responsibility to check and see where Bubba was. He didn't, because he was used to Bernie, who would never have gotten there. (Joe later said he just laughed at the collision. He put Bubba out there because he could cover more ground. Well, he covered more ground.)

It was Bubba's ball all the way. If you watch the replay in slo-mo, you can see that Bubba got there in plenty of time. He was set up underneath the ball; if Sheff hadn't run into him, he'd have made the catch easily.

Sheff, OTOH, was on the move. It would have been one of his sideswiping catches...and he doesn't always make those. Indeed, if you watch the replay, the ball hits Sheff on the wrist of his glove hand, before he makes contact with Bubba. He botched the play even before the collision. (He also sat on his butt while Bubba jumped up immediately, chased down the ball, and threw it in. Otherwise, it would have been an inside-the-park home run.)

Blame Sheff; as a corner OFer, he's supposed to check to see where the CFer is. Blame Moose, for giving up that kind of hit to the #9 batter (not to mention a homer, a single, and a walk in the same inning). Blame Torre, for waiting until the end of the season to put Bubba in CF, giving Sheff no time to get used to his speed and aggressiveness. But don't blame Bubba. He did everything you could expect a CFer to do.

The Angels tacked on two more runs in the 3rd. Moose had nothing. First, he gave up two singles. Then, with runners at the corners, he gave up a sac fly to center left. Bubba ran a long way to get it. His throw to home was offline, and the runner scored, but Bernie would never have even gotten to that ball, nor would he have attempted to throw it home if he had.

Moose then gave up another single, and a fielder's choice that scored another run. Finally Randy Johnson came in and restored order. (Joe should have gone to the bullpen sooner.)

Bubba's next at-bat was in the top of the 4th. Bernie and Jorgie each grounded out, so he was up with two out, none on. He watched the first strike go by, then laid down a truly beautiful bunt.

The Angels were expecting it and were playing in, but they still couldn't get it. He hit it toward 3B; it reached the no-man's land between 3B, catcher, and pitcher, and just died on the grass. Figgins had no chance against Bubba's speed; he didn't even bother with a throw.

But it was all for nought. Jeter, up next, swung at the first pitch - a weak grounder to SS, getting Bubba on the force to end the inning.

Bubba got one more at-bat in the game, in the top of the sixth. Bernie and Jorgie had flied out, so Bubba once again game up with two outs and none on. He grounded out on the second pitch.

Bubba walks back to the dugout after grounding out.

After that, Bubba's evening was more or less done. He did make a couple of catches in CF. An easy one, and one he had to chase down. (He called Sheff off very early this time.)

When his turn came up again, Kelvim Escobar was pitching. It was the 8th inning; Cano struck out, Bernie flied out, and Posada walked. So there were two outs, one on. Joe decided to pinch-hit Ruben Sierra for Bubba. Great. Bubba was 2 for 3 for the night, and Joe decides to pull him for a 40-year-old guy hitting .229, who's got the range of a coatrack in the outfield. K-Rod was put in for Escobar; Sierra grounded out weakly on the fourth pitch.

The ninth inning was heartbreaking. Jeter singled to left, getting everyone's hopes up. Then A-Rod grounded into a double play, crushing them. Giambi hit a single, and Bellhorn was put in as a pinch-runner. Bellhorn took second on fielder's indifference, and Sheff hit an infield single to 3B. Womack pinch-ran for Sheffield. Once again, everyone had their hopes up. Matsui was the tying run at the plate. Unfortunately, he grounded out on the fourth pitch, breaking the hearts of Yankees fans everywhere.

This game bothered me a lot more than this year's final game. This year, we got blown out in the last two games, and didn't even take it to five. We didn't deserve to win, so I find it easier to accept the defeat.

But last was so close. There were so many what-ifs. What if Randy had pitched his start the way he pitched in relief in the last game? What if Moose hadn't pitched so poorly, or Joe had pulled him earlier? What if Sheff hadn't run into Bubba? What if Joe West hadn't made that goofy call against Cano, calling him out for running inside the line? What if A-Rod had gotten a hit or even just struck out, instead of hitting into a double play?

And the Angels have always been the toughest for us. If we got by them, anything was possible.

Too bad this game ended the way it did. It was really a pretty good game for Bubba. He went 2 for 3, with an RBI and a stolen base. He also made some nice plays on defense; the collision in the outfield was not his fault.

Watching this game again, I can't help but think we had a better team last year. They were exhausted after the grueling stretch run, but were not as one-dimensional as this year's team. In particular, Bubba added something the Yankees needed. Defense, speed, and the ability to bunt. There were a couple of situations in the Tigers series this season where those skills would have really come in handy.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:59 PM | link | 1 comments |

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

Boo! 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, 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.”

A forest in the outfield? I hope he means beyond the outfield. Crashing into walls is bad enough, without having to worry about trees, too.

The train station hotel is probably the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton. Fancier digs than I usually go for, but if Bubba does end up playing for the Red Barons (or against them), maybe I'll go down there, stay in the haunted hotel, and go to a game or two.

Assuming I can get tickets. According to that article, the first day after the Yankees affiliation was announced, 47,000 tickets were sold.

A couple of seasonal links...

Two writers, one a Yankees fan, one a Red Sox fan, are collaborating on a book called Haunted Baseball.

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.

The book won't be released until next October, but it sounds interesting. The list of baseball players, coaches, etc., interviewed for the book is amazing. I guess when the subject is ghosts, everyone wants to talk.

And speaking of ghosts...this is the logo for Obiwan's UFO-Free Paranormal Page, AKA

The owner of the site is a Red Sox fan. Kind of an odd logo to choose, though. Is she saying the Sox are dead? Or just their postseason hopes...

It's a fun site, known for its user-submitted true ghost stories. Be warned, though: it gets so much traffic around Halloween it often crashes under the load.

Meanwhile, at Shea, the light-hitting LIDR hits the go-ahead homer in the 9th. Gotta love it...

posted by BubbaFan, 9:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Yankees Report Card, 2006

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:

Jeter 43
Mussina 37
Posada 33
Giambi 29
Wang 28
Damon 22
Cano 21
Rivera 21
Johnson 19
Rodriguez 18
Proctor 12
Abreu 11
Farnsworth 5
Smith 5
Karstens 4
Thompson 4
Bruney 3
Matsui 3
Rasner 2
Myers 2
Cairo 1
Guiel 1
Sheffield 1
Veras 1
Wright 0
Cannizaro -1
Reese -1
Bean -1
Nieves -2
Villone -2
Henn -2
Erickson -3
Fasano -4
Lidle -4
Long -4
Stinnett -5
K. Wilson -6
Sturtze -6
Green -6
Ponson -7
Dotel -8
Crosby -8
Beam -11
Cabrera -11
Phillips -13
C. Wilson -13
Small -13
Williams -15
Chacon -15

Interesting stuff. Wang had a real surge in the second half, but it wasn't quite enough to overcome Moose's hot start. Colter Bean contributed more than TJ Beam. A-Rod's defense was awful. Andy Phillips and Craig Wilson were equally horrible; Guiel would have been a better choice.

And Melky Cabrera's numbers for the season are surprisingly bad. His zone rating is pretty poor, suggesting that moving him to CF might not be a great idea. Though he is young, and may improve on both offense and defense.

Bubba also did poorly in the second half, dropping from -2.6 to -8. Considering that he was only around for a couple of weeks after the All-Star Break, and didn't play every game in that time, that's a pretty big shift. (July was really rough for Bubba. He hit only .152 that month.)

Not one of Bubba's best seasons, alas. But I'm confident he'll bounce back next year. He just needs regular playing time, and perhaps a little job security. He looked a bit anxious to me this year, especially toward the end. He used to be known for his good eye and patience at the plate; he needs to show that again.

Bernie finished the season at -15, the worst for any position player on the team. I fear Torre's love of veterans, and of Bernie in particular, is a real liability. Many believe that Torre's fondness for Bernie kept Lofton from playing regularly, and prevented the Yanks from trading for Carlos Beltran. Last season, his insistence on playing Bernie, Sierra, Lawton, and Womack in the outfield over Bubba came back to bite us in the playoffs. This season, he was supposed to platoon Bernie and Bubba, and then Bernie and Guiel, but instead, it ended up being all Bernie, all the time. That not only hurts the team, it blocks younger players from getting a fair shot.

Melky really lucked out this year, as Wang and Cano did last year. Basically, Joe had no choice but to play him. I suspect if Bubba hadn't been injured, Melky would have been sent back to Columbus. In May, Bubba was hitting better than Melky, for both average and power, plus Joe was putting him in as a LIDR for Melky. Then Melky fell into a month-long slump. I think Joe would have sent him back down to the minors, if he had another outfielder to take his place. But with Bubba, Matsui, and Sheff on the DL, he didn't. When Bubba returned, he wasn't hitting as well, having spent a month on the shelf, while Melky was rebounding from his slump. But once Sheff and Matsui came back, Melky was riding pine.

Bernie, I love you, but you need to retire.

Also worth a look is RLYW's analysis of What Happened? in the postseason. In short...the pitching was bad, the offense was worse, and the defense was worst of all. Just really ugly all around.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:18 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cory Fulton Lidle, 1972-2006

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 :

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.

Boy, does this put things into perspective.

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:20 PM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Torre to stay

It's official: Joe is keeping his job.

Steinbrenner said:

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.

Don't we all. Too bad all the young, hungry players were benched or sent to Tampa or Columbus.

Cashman also issued a statement saying A-Rod is not being traded. Of course, that may just be posturing.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:12 PM | link | 2 comments |

Torre to Survive?

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.

He also offers this warning for those who are looking to young Philip Hughes as a savior:

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.
posted by BubbaFan, 7:32 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, October 09, 2006

Winter Is Coming

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.

He played in the Puerto Rican League, for the Ponce Lions. I found his stats. Only two games - dunno if the stats are incomplete, or if that's all he played (due to the tendonitis mentioned in the above article). Nice stats, though:

.444 .444 .444

He also had two stolen bases and two RBI. Not bad for only two games.

Then there's this Las Vegas Review-Journal article, from his minor league days.

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."

Haven't found his Venezuelan League stats.

I did find that Hawai`i Winter Baseball has started up again. (I'm from Hawai`i.) Lots of Japanese players, as you might expect. Most of the players seem to be Single-A prospects.

And in other news...Joe Girardi interviewed with the Cubs today.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:52 PM | link | 0 comments |

Blame Game

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.

Meanwhile, the North Jersey Record puts the blame on Joe:

Torre lost touch with his players

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.

Wow. That article paints a grim view of the Yankees clubhouse.

Gary Sheffield and Cory Lidle also seem to be blaming Torre. Lidle said they weren't ready to play, while Sheff blamed the lineup changes (A-Rod to eighth), saying they distracted the team.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Everyone knows it's pitching that wins in the post-season, but Cashman didn't do much to shore up the Yankees pitching. It was simply ludicrous to go into a do-or-die game with the likes of Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle on the mound.

And as that last series showed, the lineup is just too one-dimensional. Too many sluggers. Against good pitching - which one tends to encounter in the postseason - it's the gap hitters who succeed, more often than the sluggers. Now, Jeter and Damon are not one-dimensional. They are contact hitters, who can bunt and steal as well as hit the occasional homer. Abreu is also a contact hitter. He can't bunt, but he's got great speed on the basepaths. After that,'s all sluggers. Sheff, Giambi, A-Rod, Matsui, Posada...all tend to K against good pitchers. (Though Posada did well this postseason. We're going to miss him when he's gone.)

We need fewer sluggers, and more guys who can hit a line drive into the gap, or just move the runner over.

Paul O'Neill said the Yankees have too many chiefs, not enough Indians. I think he's right. We need more role-players and fewer superstars. Call it chemistry, or balance, or whatever...the Yankees team that took the field against Detroit didn't have it.

Of course, it's not Torre who saddled the team with all these veteran stars. And you really can't blame him for playing them when he has them. Still...Torre's strengths are not well-suited to the short post-season. He does well during the long regular season. But in-game tactics have never been his strong suit...and that's what counts in the post-season. Maybe it was impossible to beat Detroit's pitching. But we could have put up more of a fight. If Joe had pulled Mussina earlier, Game 2 might have been salvaged. If he hadn't left Wright in that long, even Game 4 might have been won. Heck, he shouldn't have left Wang in New York. We should have at least had the option of Wang on short rest, with the season at stake.

I dunno, maybe Goldman has it right. Sometimes, you just need change for the sake of change. It may be time for Torre to go.

But if he does, I don't know that his replacement will be an improvement. Whoever it is. Piniella is the frontrunner, but I'd rather have Girardi. Though I have my doubts about whether Girardi has the political skills to handle the job.

On a lighter note...check out this eBay auction. I'm surprised it hasn't been removed yet.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:25 AM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Torre Out, Piniella In?

ESPN and other sources are reporting that Torre is out, Piniella is in. Steinbrenner will reportedly fire Torre on Monday if he doesn't resign first.

Also interesting is that the reports are suggesting it was the "Tampa Cabal" that demanded Melky be inserted in the lineup yesterday. So maybe that wasn't Torre's idea.

Perhaps the most stunning is this from Peter Abraham:

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.

Wow. If true, this is a sea-change.

I like Joe, and will be sad to see him go. But it may be time. His greatest strength as a manager is his ability to soothe the egos of the collection of superstars that are the Yankees.

IMO, that's the problem. We need a team, not a collection of superstars. The '90s dynasty (which Torre inherited rather than created) was a team. The guys wearing pinstripes yesterday were just a collection of all-stars.

The team that somehow always found a way to win earlier this year was not the same team as the one took the field in the postseason. It hadn't been the same since the trading deadline, but we didn't notice much, because the Red Sox collapsed like a house of cards and made us look great in comparison.

The scrappy team that manufactured runs and scratched and clawed for wins had guys named Melky Cabrera, Aaron Guiel, Bubba Crosby, and Andy Phillips on it. Guys who weren't multi-millionaires and still had something to prove. Many fans whined about what a laughable lineup we had then, with the likes of Miguel Cairo and Nick Green in it. But they usually won, even when no one expected them to.

No, I'm not saying we need a whole team of that kind of player, but we need a few of them, for balance. They add a spark, an energy, that this old, blasé team badly needs. I'm reminded of something Gary Sheffield once said about Bubba Crosby:

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.

Nobody was really getting their uniforms dirty yesterday.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:16 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dead In Detroit

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."

Uh, Brian...perhaps you didn't notice, but the scrappy team that somehow found a way to win in the regular season? It wasn't the same guys as the team that rolled over in the postseason. And you had something to do with that.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:11 PM | link | 2 comments |


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.

Holy jeez.

And Melky is back in the lineup, with Giambi sitting. (Even though there's a RHP on the mound.)

This lineup change smacks of panic. If Joe was going to play the rookie, he should have been playing him all along, not suddenly dumping him into a do-or-die situation.

What a nerve-wracking series this is turning out to be...

posted by BubbaFan, 4:09 PM | link | 0 comments |


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.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:49 AM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Best of Three

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:32 PM | link | 6 comments |

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Too Much For the Tiggers

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?

posted by BubbaFan, 7:02 AM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Lineup

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!)

posted by BubbaFan, 6:53 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, October 02, 2006

And you can put it in the books...

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:23 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Major League Baseball continues to be haunted by an old ghost: allegations of steroid abuse. A story from today's Los Angeles Times broke last night, setting the sports world abuzz:

Clemens Is Named in Drug Affidavit

Someone who had access to the original, non-blacked out affidavit showed it to a Los Angeles Times reporter. The players named by Jason Grimsley as steroid users are:

Roger Clemens
Andy Pettitte
Miguel Tejada
Brian Roberts
Jay Gibbons

Perhaps most unnerving was the allegation that (former) Yankees trainer Brian McNamee was the guy who was recommending steroids to the players and hooking them up with suppliers. Sheesh.

I can't say I'm shocked about Clemens and Pettitte. Steroid rumors have surrounded Clemens for a long time. He's a power pitcher who has kept his power at an age when most are retired or have switched to softer throwing styles. Then there was the bat-throwing incident - 'roid rage?

And Pettitte and Clemens are so close, training together, etc. If one is using steroids, you kind of expect that the other is, too. I remember when Pettitte's fastball jumped from the upper 80s to the lower 90s. Better mechanics was credited at the time; now, I can't help but wonder if the cause was chemical, rather than mechanical.

Tejada is not a surprise, either. He's another one who's been followed by steroid rumors for awhile now.

Never gave much thought to Gibbons. But Brian first reaction was surprise. Then I thought again, and wasn't really surprised. Clearly, last year was a fluke. He had been hitting 4 or 5 homers a year, then suddenly, he hit 18 - in a season that was prematurely cut short by a close encounter with Bubba Crosby at 1B.

From the LA Times article:

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.

Put that way, you realize just how unusual that fluke season of his was. Just natural maturation, or better hitting through chemistry?

The knock on Bubba has always been his small size. When he was a draft prospect, scouts fretted that he was too short. They worried that his small frame couldn't carry a lot of muscle. Even Mattingly said a little guy like Bubba is never going to hit a lot of home runs. (Does size really matter that much? Hank Aaron was a skinny little guy. Why do today's big hitters all look like Big Papi?)

Brian Roberts is even smaller than Bubba: 5'-9", 175 lbs. vs. 5'-11", 190 lbs. We tend to link steroids with the big bruisers. The sluggers, like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. But steroids must be even more tempting for the little guys. The guys who need an edge, just to stay in the majors.

I'm reminded of something Lawrence Taylor said, when asked about his cocaine use. He said when you look across the line and see guys high on coke, half out of their minds and foaming at the don't want to face them unless you're in the same condition.

Okay, it's not quite the same situation in baseball. Still...if other players are using steroids, there must a lot of pressure to use them yourself. The competition is so intense.

So far as I know, Bubba has never used anything illegal. He did get picked for random drug testing last year, along with several other Yankees. I assume he came up clean; the only Yankee who got publically busted last year was Matt Lawton.

And I begrudge Lawton every one of the 50 at-bats he got as a Yankee. It plecks me off that Bubba was benched for a cheater like Lawton. (A cheater who hit .125, no less.)


posted by BubbaFan, 11:51 AM | link | 2 comments |