To the RAB Readership,
Hi folks. I’m Matt Warden and it’s a pleasure to meet you — even if it’s only in a virtual sense!
I’ve been a dedicated reader (and sporadic commenter) here at River Ave Blues for quite some time, and am absolutely delighted about now having the opportunity to contribute to the site as an author. Of course, I certainly look forward to all of your candid feedback in the “comments” section as well.
My hope is to provide you the same thoughtful, unbiased analysis that you’ve come to expect from the RAB crew. At the very least, ideally, it is my preference that you won’t walk away feeling like Filbert, the uncomfortable anthropomorphic turtle from Rocko’s Modern Life (one of my favorite childhood cartoons mind you), thinking “I’m nauseous…I’m nauseous…I’m nauseous!” after each one of my posts. If that is indeed the case, I’d strongly recommend lowering your standards.
I’ve also recently been assimilated by the Borg Tweeting community — my Twitter tag is @Matt_Warden. Feel free to send me your observations, rants, criticisms, hexes, whatever really — I’ll do my best to respond in kind.
And now…here’s something Yankee-related.
One of my favorite elements of baseball, as a sport, is the general acknowledgment and appreciation of seemingly arbitrary tidbits of information. Given that it’s a holiday weekend; I thought it’d be fun to provide some frivolity by offering some interesting July Fourth related morsels of my own.
- Over the past 21 seasons, the Yankees have gone 9-12 on Independence Day. The nine winning NY pitchers during that time frame (listed in chronological order) are: Eric Plunk, Mariano Rivera (back when he was still considered a starting pitcher), Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Jason Anderson, Brett Tomko, and most recently David Robertson in 2010.
- There have only been six players who have played for the New York Yankees whose birthdays have also fallen on the Fourth of July. They are as follows:
- Ted Lilly – [2000-2002] during 2001, Lilly’s one full season with the Yankees, he pitched to a 5.37 ERA (84 ERA+) with a 1.467 WHIP in 120.2 innings (valued at a -0.1 bWAR). Unfortunately, we never saw the best of Ted.
- Daryl Boston –  through 84 plate appearances, Daryl batted .182/.250/.364 (.614 OPS), which was good for a -0.8 bWAR. Hooray for underachievement.
- Paul Gibson – [1993-1994] Threw a grand total of 64.1 IP during his tenure in pinstripes. In 1994, his SO/9 rate was 6.5; his BB/9 rate was 5.3.
- George Selkirk [1934-1942] – During his nine big league seasons, Selkirk’s slash line was .290/.400/.483 (.883 OPS). The most important thing you have to know about Selkirk though, is his nickname – Twinkletoes (I laughed).
- Blondy Ryan –  played in 35 games (105 AB) and hit .238/.259/.305. Now I know what you’re thinking so let me give you something else to ponder instead. In 1933, he played in 146 games (543 PA), and batted .207/.258/.293. He was ninth in voting for NL MVP during the 1933 season. It was a pretty different landscape back then.
- Klondike Smith –  Real first name: Armstrong. His professional career extended all of seven games and all were with the Yankees. In his very brief stint in the Big Leagues, he posted a .185/.185/.222 triple slash (five total hits comprised of four singles and one double). So there’s that.
- As far as I can tell, the only players to have died on Independence Day who spent time with the Yankees are Tony Rensa [played with NY in 1933] who died in 1987 and Foster Edwards [played with NY in 1930] who died in 1980. RIP.
- This year, the Yankees will play Cleveland on the Fourth of July. The last time this match up occurred was back in 2006. The Bombers lost that game 19-1 (!). The winning pitcher for Cleveland was Jake Westbrook; the loser for NY was Shawn Chacon (surprise, surprise). He lasted a whopping 1.1 innings, allowed six hits (three of which were homeruns), seven earned runs, three walks, and managed only one strikeout. The “mop up” crew charged with cleaning up the steaming pile of handling the remainder of the game was composed of Ron Villone, T.J. Beam, Mike Myers, Scott Proctor, and Kyle Farnsworth. It sure makes you feel good about are current bullpen even with half of them on the DL.
- The last time the Yankees beat the Tribe on July Fourth was back in 2002 (Bombers won 7-1). The winning pitcher was Mike Mussina; Chuck Finley was the loser. Alfonso Soriano (1 H), Enrique Wilson (1 H), Bernie Williams (2 H), Jason Giambi (2 H), Raul Mondesi (2 H), Robin Ventura (1 H), Shane Spencer (1 H), and Chris Widger (1 H) all contributed offensively. Giambi and Mondesi both hit homeruns (it was the 22nd of the season for Giambi, the 16th for Mondesi).
- On June 21, the Yankees announced the official retirement of Lou Gehrig. July 4, 1939 was proclaimed “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee stadium. It would be in between the double header against the then Washington Senators, that Gehrig would deliver his famous “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. The New York Times described the speech as “perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell.”
I’m thinking that’s probably enough for now. Have a happy (and safe) long weekend!