All Things Bubba

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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Five years ago today...

Bubba Crosby with Jason Romano and Paul Loduca at the Vet, two days before Bubba was traded.

Five years ago today, a deadline deal brought Bubba to the Bronx:

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.

Bubba was upset to find himself traded to a team with a reputation of letting their minor league talent rot on the farm. I was upset at losing Robin Ventura for a couple of no-names like Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor. We both got over it. ;-)

I was a more casual and less-informed fan back then. Now I would recognize it as a good trade for the Yanks.

This year there have been a bunch of blockbuster deadline deals. The Yanks got Nady and Pudge, of course, and also traded the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez. Not sure what they'll do if they need a backup SS. I guess Betemit could serve in a pinch. And there's always A-Rod. Nick Green is the starting SS in Scranton.

Teixeira is a Halo. Manny Ramirez has been traded to the Dodgers...and Red Sox Nation seems happy to see him go. (If anyone can deal with "Manny being Manny," I guess it's Joe Torre.) Jason Bay is headed to Boston. And the Reds have traded Ken Griffey, Jr. to the Chicago White Sox.

I'm not sure the Griffey trade is a great deal for either side. I suppose he could always DH with the White Sox, but it sounds like they're expecting him to play CF or 1B. He's never played 1B, and he can't play CF any more.

It's not as much of a salary dump for the Reds as many fans hoped. Cincinnati is paying about half of Junior's salary and buyout. The deal saves them about 4 million.

The two players the Reds got in return aren't expected to amount to all that much. One of them in an infielder. He will probably end up in Louisville; he still has options. Not sure who will take Griffey's roster spot. Perhaps Hairston, who should be coming off the DL soon. Good news for Andy Phillips, I guess. If Griffey weren't traded, Andy might have been DFA'd to make room for Hairston.

As expected, Chad Moeller has been DFA'd by the Yankees to make room for Pudge. If he clears waivers, he'll probably be offered a job in Scranton.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:42 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


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.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:43 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, July 28, 2008

Posada out for the year

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:59 PM | link | 2 comments |

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Struck out

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:22 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sardinha mystery solved

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. 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.

In other words, DWI.

(Yes, the conviction was in California. And no, the California police couldn't fit his middle name on the form.)

I can't really blame him for wanting to leave the Yankees. He was pretty much blocked there. But it sure hasn't turned out all that well for him.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


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.

Bubba the Sun

Sort of. Because of 9/11, they didn’t actually play the finals. They declared both finalists co-champions.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, July 18, 2008

All in a night's work

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:12 PM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Mets

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:51 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Five Years Ago Today...

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.)

posted by BubbaFan, 9:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Own Bubba Crosby's Pants!

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:52 PM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What If the Pain Isn’t Temporary?

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.


posted by BubbaFan, 9:03 PM | link | 2 comments |

The Home Run Derby

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:18 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, July 14, 2008

The All-Star Break

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!

Sigh. I don't see it happening, but I sure understand the sentiment. I miss Bubba, too. I'd be happy even to see him in Scranton.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:31 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good News and Bad News

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 12:52 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bobby Murcer, 1946-2008

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:22 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Craig Wilson to Seattle

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.

Rotoworld says:

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.

Craig Wilson had shoulder surgery similar to Bubba's, one month earlier. Like Bubba, he had a hard time finding a job after the surgery. He finally settled for a minor league contract with the Reds...only to be released before spring training started when he didn't pass his physical. Again, pretty similar to what happened to Bubba with the Mariners.

Wilson eventually got picked up by his old team, the Pirates. The Pirates' team doctor was also the guy who did Wilson's surgery, so perhaps he was more willing to give him a clean bill of health. Or maybe all Wilson needed was a little more time to heal. In any case, he's been playing without apparent problems. His average isn't that great, but he was always a guy who hit more for power than for average.

I guess I'm still hoping Bubba can come back from his surgery. If Craig Wilson can do it, why not Bubba?

Yeah, I know. Everyone's different. Maybe Bubba really can't play any more. If there's a chance he could totally blow out his shoulder so he can never put away groceries or play catch with his future's not worth it. There's more to life than baseball.

But maybe he just needs more time. I think it's clear now that saying he would be ready by spring training this year was extremely optimistic. Most baseball players who have that kind of shoulder surgery take longer than that to return to playing, and many say it was a full year or more before they felt normal again. Maybe he doesn't feel up to playing now physically, or is just tired of it. But he might feel differently next year. A lot of players who retire change their minds and come back.

I'm not the only one who is reminded of Bubba by Brett Gardner. Jim Baumbach of Newsday was, too. Only not in a good way. He posted this a few days ago:

Brett Gardner is Bubba Crosby with speed

Grrrrr. (Someone named Owen posted a comment saying "Bubba Crosby is Bubba Crosby with speed." At least someone remembered Bubba has good wheels. Honestly, I think it's his name. Even people who should know better, like beat reporters and stat-heads, assume that anyone named "Bubba" must be slow.)

But what really ticked me off was the photo posted with the story. Of Bubba and Sheff colliding. Good gravy. That collision wasn't Bubba's fault. All the nice moments Bubba had, and the only thing he's going to be remembered for is that collision.

He deserves better, darn it. That's one reason I'm hoping he'll change his mind about retiring. At least then there would be a chance that he'd be remembered for something other than that stupid collision.

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

Minky Dinky Parley Voo

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?

posted by BubbaFan, 6:55 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Road gray

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:45 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Legend of Brett Gardner

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.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:41 PM | link | 1 comments |

Friday, July 04, 2008

Brett Gardner

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:

2006 .280 .360 .391 .751
2007 .273 .327 .391 .718
2008 .244 .310 .351 .661

Many were expecting that he'd develop some power as he matured, but there's no sign of it so far. And his average and on-base percentage have fallen each year since 2006. According to some number-crunchers, he's the worst center fielder in the majors (even taking into account defense).

I really think 2006 was fluke. His strong suit was his OBP...but at the time, many of the stat-heads were skeptical. They pointed out that a good eye is something that usually develops early, and Melky had shown no sign of that kind of patience in his minor league career. Now, it's looking like they were right.

I don't think Gardner is the center fielder of the future, either. The Yankees like sluggers, and Gardner has no power. Probably he and Melky both will just be keeping center field warm for Austin Jackson or some other young stud.

Though Johnny Damon's injury will likely keep both Melky and Gardner on the roster, at least for now.

But it should be interesting to see what happens at the trade deadline, at the end of this month. The Yankees have a lot of holes to fill. They need a starting pitcher. They could use a right-handed hitter, and a center fielder with a good stick. This being Cashman's "walk year," he might feel more pressure to get something done than usual.

Happy Independence Day!

posted by BubbaFan, 5:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Welcome back, Andy Phillips

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.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:20 PM | link | 1 comments |

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The day after Andy Phillips got his first hit as a Met and scored the team's only run for the night...they DFA'd him.

It sounds like he wasn't long for the team anyway:

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.

So even if the Mets hadn't decided to carry an extra pitcher, Andy would have been cut when Alou came off the DL.

We should find out whether Andy clears waivers on Thursday. On the bright side...if he does clear waivers and accepts the assignment, he'll be sent to the Mets' AAA team in New Orleans, which is not too far from his home in Alabama.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:35 AM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Crosstown Doubleheader: Game 2

Knology Park, spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays

O CanadaHappy Canada Day!

I never did do a post about the last spring training game I attended. It was a night game, and I had to drive an hour to the hotel after it ended, then hit the road for home early the next day. It was at the Toronto Blue Jays' spring training facility, so in honor of Canada Day, here it is...

MARCH 26, 2008: This was my last day in Florida, and I decided to see two games: the Yankees at the Phillies in the afternoon, and the Reds at the Jays at night.

The Yankees game was not a lot of fun. It was very crowded, of course, and brutally hot. And the Yanks were blanked. Nevertheless, I was game for Game 2.

Knology Park is a mere swallow's flight away from Bright House Field. It's an easy five or ten-minute drive. I got there really early, since the Yankees game went quickly (funny how that happens when you don't hit). I drove around the neighborhood a little, just to see what it was like. Nice enough, but it was mostly homes and offices; there was really nothing to do. So I parked in the Lowe's parking lot across the street (they charged $10) and bought a ticket. (Unlike the other games I attended, there were plenty of good seats still available. There weren't many scalpers, and the ones there were weren't doing well.)

The Reds were warming up on the field when I got there. I wandered around stadium for awhile, then "borrowed" a box seat along on the third base line. It was the least crowded part of the park, and the view was not marred by netting. (I don't like watching through netting. It doesn't bother the camera, as long as you focus beyond the netting, but it bugs me.)

The infielders were taking turns fielding balls in front of me, including Andy Phillips:

I was pretty close to the players.

Andy kinda looked at me funny a couple of times. I was the only one in the entire section that early. Not sure if he was wondering if I was journalist, or if he thought I was a stalker or something. I could have told him, "Don't worry, I only stalk Bubba," but somehow, I don't think that would have been very reassuring.

My actual seat was in the upper bleachers on the first base side. The guy at the ticket booth tried to sell me tickets behind home plate, but I asked for a seat further out. Like I said, I don't like being behind the netting if I can avoid it. (As it turns out, one of the Jays threw a ball into the stands that almost landed on my head. I put my hand up to catch it - or at least deflect it. But the guy next to me, who was well over 6' feet tall, jumped up and caught it. He brought a glove. No, I wasn't upset he took the ball. I was glad it didn't hit my camera. And he got the ball for his kid.)

Andy Phillips and Scott Hatteberg were running intervals in the outfield when I took my seat.

This game was very different from the other ones I attended in Florida. It was more like a minor league game. People participated a lot more in the claps, cheers, etc. (and there were a lot more of them). They sang along to the national anthems to the point that the singer was pretty much drowned out. (At Ed Smith a couple days earlier, no one even knew the words to "O Canada.")

Also curious was that even though there were plenty of empty seats, no one moved from their assigned seat. My row was full, but the two rows in front of me were empty. Yet no one moved up, even when it was clear that whoever had those seats wasn't coming.

And nobody left early. Perhaps it was because there was a fireworks show after the game. Or because it was a beautiful night. I left my jacket in the car, because it was so wicked hot during the Yankees game. I later heard it was supposed to drop to 60F that night, and feared I'd be freezing in my shirt sleeves. But it was a gorgeous night for baseball. The best baseball weather of my entire trip.

The visitors' dugout was on the third base line, so I had a good view of it.

Starting for the Reds was Aaron Harang:

Going for the Jays was Jesse Litsch. The kid had a no-hitter going into the 7th.

(No, I didn't say, "Hey, wow, Litsch has a no-hitter!" - though I was tempted. ;-)

Litsch is a Florida boy, and a lot of the people in the stands, including those next to me, were friends of his family.

They were also talking about former Yankee phenom Tyler Clippard, now with the Nats. He's another Florida boy...and said to be quite the party animal. They were talking about his DWI. Apparently, he drove someone home from a party because the person who was supposed to drive them was too drunk. It was only one block...but he got busted.

I wonder if he's really a party animal, or if they just remember him like that because that's how he was in high school?

Andy Phillips started at third base:

David Eckstein was his pesky self, going 3 for 4 with a double.

Greg Zaun had struggled in spring training, but he was 1 for 3 with a double in this game.

Andy in pursuit of a foul ball. (It ended up going into the stands.)

Andy did make a great diving stop in the 5th. His throw was not in time, but it was pretty impressive that he made it at all, considering that he was flat on his face.

Also during the 5th inning, there was a loud double boom. The people around me said it was the space shuttle, on a rare night landing. They don't usually like to do landings at night, but weather delayed the planned daylight landing. The sound was the sonic boom as the shuttle entered the atmosphere. (Actually two booms, one for the nose and one for the tail. For most aircraft, they are so close together it sounds like one boom, but the shuttle is so large you actually hear the double boom.)

The no-hitter was finally broken up in the 7th inning. By Jeff Keppinger, who hit a seeing-eye single to center. (I think he's going to be David Eckstein when he grows up.)

The Jays fans were irate, yelling things like, "What a cheap little hit!" But Litsch had run out of gas. Scott Hatteberg singled, Joey Votto walked, Jolbert Cabrera grounded into a forceout but scored Keppinger, and Andy Phillips hit a sac fly to deep center. Litsch eventually got out of the inning, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk.

But in the bottom of the inning, Harang immediately gave back one run on a Frank Thomas homer. Bill Bray came in in relief.

Bray got the hook after giving up three hits, three runs, and a walk in only a third of an inning.

Last licks for the Reds came against RHP Brandon League. Votto went down swinging, then Jolbert Cabrera doubled to right.

Andy Phillips singled to center, scoring Cabrera.

Andy took 2B on a passed ball.

But Hairston went down swinging, and Rosales grounded out to end the inning and the game.

Andy didn't like the call, and let the umpire know it.

Final score: Toronto 6, Reds 3.

Labels: ,

posted by BubbaFan, 6:03 PM | link | 0 comments |

Gas prices

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.

Some experts are predicting gasoline will hit $7/gallon. I wonder what that will do to baseball game attendance?

In particular, I wonder how many people will be at spring training next year. Families who drive down to Florida from New York or Ohio or Pennsylvania may think twice with gas prices at nosebleed levels. I suppose there may be more locals there, but they'll have less money to spend on beer and cotton candy...especially the retirees who are so plentiful in Florida (and Arizona). It must be pretty tough to be a on fixed income these days.

I am still hoping to go to spring training again next March, but I guess I better start saving now.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:19 AM | link | 2 comments |