An Album for Alex Rodriguez

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Alex Rodriguez will retire following the 2017 season. Or maybe he won’t. We’ll see, I guess. Regardless, we’ve long since passed the time when A-Rod‘s past days in pinstripes severely outweigh his future days in pinstripes. Two full seasons is a long time to start waxing about most players’ careers, but few players in baseball have been as meaningful to the game–positively and negatively–as Alex has during his time in the Majors. His tenure with the team has been at times tantalizing, tumultuous, tedious…it’s safe to say we’ll likely never have an experience with a player quite like we have with A-Rod.

To kick off my part in his two-year “retirement” tour, as Mike put it in his post, I’m going to turn to an assignment I’ve given out to multiple classes. In the assignment, the students had to make an album for our curriculum, selecting songs that they felt spoke to the characters and/or themes of the texts we’d been studying. For the purposes of this assignment, the “text” is Alex Rodriguez’s Yankee career.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

1. Okay, I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t–Brand New: “I am heaven sent/Don’t you dare forget/I am all you’ve ever wanted/What all the other boys all promise…”

Ignoring any sort of nuance to the words or song, let’s take them at face value for a moment. I remember exactly where I was during the press conference that introduce A-Rod to the Yankees–I was getting a haircut–and while I didn’t think of this song at the time, looking back, it makes perfect sense. When the Yankees acquired A-Rod, he was the best player on earth, hands down, bar none. He was heaven sent. He was all anyone would ever want or could ever want out of a baseball player. And, likely, deep down, Alex knew that and comported himself as such. Was he cocky at times, even arrogant? Sure he was. But when you’re a player like that, you’ve earned it.

2. One-Eighty by Summer–Taking Back Sunday “Go on, just say it/You need me like a bad habit…”

Are there any words that could more aptly sum up the media’s obsession with Rodriguez over the last 12 years? No matter what he did, no matter what he said, it was all taken in by a hungry media, digested, and spit back out as a hot take of some sort. This has cooled since season, but there has always been an undercurrent of tension with Rodriguez and the media, and for certain outlets, he’s a habit they just can’t break.

3. The Mountain Range In My Living Room–The Early November “It’s never been harder to fall/There’s nothing to grab and that’s/All I want to hold on to/Just another sweep and it’ll be fine/But this carpet’s got hills/And I can’t see this helping at all.”

Alex has had troubles in his times with the Yankees, and there’s no denying that. Sometimes, he’s wanted them swept under the rug, and we have too, thinking some things were non-stories or not important. But the fact remains that he’s brought a lot of things upon himself through both words and actions. He’s most definitely been held accountable for them and he’s most definitely changed, but we can’t ignore his issues, be the hills in the carpet or mountain ranges.

He's not a businessman he's a business, man. (Cindy Ord/Getty)
He’s not a businessman he’s a business, man. (Cindy Ord/Getty)

4. Sympathy for the Martyr–Straylight Run “A laundry list of problems doesn’t make you interesting/Never getting help doesn’t make you brave/Not listening to reason doesn’t mean that you have faith/You’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face…”

After Alex danced around steroid suspicions and admissions in the offseason between 2008 and 2009, we were all glad to be rid of that distraction, especially when he dominated the 2009 playoffs like he did. Things came up again in 2013 and 2014 and most of us still defended Rodriguez from our fan’s perspective. It’s hard, though, to ignore the feeling that at that point, continuing to do PEDs was probably the dumbest thing Rodriguez could’ve done and his reaction to his mistakes wasn’t exactly professional. All of that led to his 2014 suspension, and certainly a change of heart.

5. I Don’t Like Who I Was Then–The Wonder Years “I put my past self in the ground/I’ve been dancing on his grave/I’m not the person that I was then/I’m sending him away/I was bitter/I was careless…”

This song is Alex’s 2015 (and so far 2016) in a nutshell. He recognized who he was and changed it after his 2014 suspension. Yes, he’s still goofy and awkward now, but he’s embraced it. He had a season no on expected. He endeared himself to fans and media alike. He went onto Fox’s World Series coverage, something that seemed beyond inconceivable in 2014. The person that Alex was before 2015 is long gone.

6. My Hero–The Foo Fighters “There goes my hero/He’s ordinary…”

Alex Rodriguez is not a hero. He’s also not a villain. He is, by all accounts, ordinary. He has an extraordinary talent and is an extraordinary baseball player, but as a human being, he is as ordinary as you are and I am. He has strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and charms. He is a real person, and over the course of his time in the Bronx, we have seen the full picture of him as a person more than we have just about any other player. I’m thankful for his time in pinstripes and will remember it fondly.

A Haiku for the Rest of MLB [2015 Season Preview]

Does Donnie like Haikus? Of course. (Presswire)
Does Donnie like haikus? Of course. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only three days away. We’ve spent the last four weeks previewing the Yankees and the upcoming season, and yesterday we broke down the rest of the AL East. Today we’re going to wrap up our 2015 Season Preview series with a quick preview of the other 25 teams in baseball. After all, the Yankees are going to have to try to beat those teams this season too.

If you’ve come here looking for a serious preview post, you’re not going to get it. It’s Friday afternoon, Opening Day is right around the corner, and this year’s preview series is over. Instead, we’re going to have some fun and preview those other 25 teams in Haiku form. I encourage you to tell me how much my haikus suck and to make some of your own — pro tip: use the Haiku Counter to make sure you have the right number of syllables — and leave ’em in the comments. Enjoy.

Atlanta Braves
Traded their best bats
For a whole bunch of pitchers
They know scoring’s down?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Nuno their ace?
The answer just might be yes
Payback for ’01!

Chicago Cubs
Bleachers aren’t ready?
No prob, Bryant won’t notice
He’s in Iowa

Chicago White Sox
D-Rob and Melky
Back together in ChiTown
Growing ugly beards

Cincinnati Reds
Good enough to win?
Nah, not in that division
Can we have Cueto?

Cleveland Indians
Brantley is awesome
Kluber is really great
World Series pick? Eh

Colorado Rockies
Troy’s still a Rockie
Kyle Kendrick, OD SP?
Wait for ski season

Detroit Tigers
Miggy, Price, V-Mart
Lots of stars and real big names
Bullpen still a mess

Houston Astros
I don’t understand
You won “process World Series?”
That doesn’t exist

Kansas City Royals
Pennant last season
Volquez is replacing Shields?
For real? Yeah, for real

Los Angeles Angels
They have that Trout guy
I wish the Yankees had him
It’s Teixeira’s fault!

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is the best
Donnie Baseball gets his ring?
If not, just blame Puig

Miami Marlins
Paid Giancarlo
They’re going for it again
When’s next fire sale?

Milwaukee Brewers
They all hate Ryan Braun
But not as much as A-Rod
This team is boring

Minnesota Twins
Phil’s still homer prone
Nunez’s helmet still falls off
Just like the old days

New York Mets
Take back New York, huh?
Orange and blue like the Knicks
But with fewer fans

Oakland Athletics
Ballpark is ugly
Beane traded everyone again
What’s a Stephen Vogt?

Philadelphia Phillies
Rebuild? Finally!
Cole will be traded real soon
Then skip to next year

Pittsburgh Pirates
Cervelli pumps fist
McCutchen cut his dreads
A World Series team?

St. Louis Cardinals
Contender again
Such a boringly good team
Gets boring haiku

San Diego Padres
Kemp, Upton, Myers, Shields
But what about Yangervis?
Solarte Partay!

San Francisco Giants
The World Series champs
But it’s an odd number year
So no repeat then

Seattle Mariners
You can have Robbie
You are still stuck with Jack Z.
Yankees win the trade

Texas Rangers
Could this be the year
That Elvis Andrus will hit?
Hah, made myself laugh

Washington Nationals
Awesome rotation!
Future Yankee Bryce Harper
Has nice ring to it

2014 Season Review: Foul Territory

Teixeira Foul Territory

We spend a lot of time here at RAB — like, a ridiculous amount of time — talking about the Yankees and being super serious about stuff. Moves have to be discussed and performances need to be analyzed. This is serious business.

If you’re looking for more of that this afternoon, this isn’t the post for you. We have something like 20,000 posts of serious stuff dating back to 2007 you can dig through if you want. This post is for everyone who wants to forget about the serious stuff for a few minutes and focus on the parts of the 2014 Yankees that made us laugh. Stuff like this:

That didn’t happen at a Yankees game, but I watched it happen live while the Yankees were on a commercial break in Spring Training. I’m pretty sure former Yankee Curtis Granderson hit that ground rule double too. See? Fun. Baseball can actually be fun sometimes. No need to be serious all the time. It’s baseball, man. A kid’s game.

Anyway, I think one of my favorite moments of the 2014 season came way back in Spring Training, when a Yankees-Red Sox game was randomly halted because there was a swarm of bees on the field. It took them like ten minutes to get things sorted out before the game could resume. I remember that moment because it produced this GIF (via The Big Lead):

Wait, wait. You need to hear why Mark Teixeira was holding two bottles of honey. From Mark Feinsand:

“I’m a big peanut butter-and-honey guy, so I always know where the honey is,” Teixeira said. “What I thought was if you could just do a line of honey out to the parking lot the bees would maybe follow it and leave us alone.”

“Do a line of honey out to the parking lot the bees would maybe follow it.”

That … isn’t the worst idea in the world? It would definitely backfire though. Kinda like when the coyote painted a tunnel on the giant rock and the roadrunner ran through it anyway.

Unbeknownst to us, while Teixeira was working on his beekeeping skills in Tampa, he was also recording a fake talk show called Foul Territory for the YES Network. And it was actually funny! At least at first. Teixeira told Dan Barbarisi he came up with the idea for Foul Territory in Spring Training as a way “for the new guys to get broken in, in kind of a funny way—not necessarily hazing, because I’m hazing myself more than anything.”

Teixeira interviewed just about every new player who joined the team last offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury (video) and Brian McCann (video). My personal favorite was either Masahiro Tanaka‘s appearance …

… or Jack Curry’s appearance …

… or the overlooked (probably because everyone lost interest by the end of the season) Brendan Ryan appearance …

… but that’s just me. The entire Foul Territory archive is right here, by the way.

It still amazes me a Yankee was able to record a multi-part fake talk show in Spring Training and have it be almost universally well-received. I get the feeling that would have not gone over all that well a few years and decades ago. Is Foul Territory an indication the Yankees are loosening up the rules a bit? Nah, of course not. They’re still the Yankees and will always have that business-like vibe. I guess that’s what made Foul Territory so much fun — it was a break from the norm.

This past season I made a point of making sure I enjoyed baseball more and didn’t take it so seriously. Especially since it was kinda clear the Yankees would stink. If I’m going to commit to watching a mediocre team everyday, then I’m going to laugh at everything I can. And with that, I’ll leave you with this GIF (via Buzzfeed):

The Five Shortest Yankees’ Homers of 2014

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Earlier this week we looked back at the five longest homeruns of the 2014 Yankees’ season, and now it’s time to flip the script. We’re now going to look at the shortest homers of the season. This post is made possible first by Hit Tracker and all its wonderful and freely available data, and also by the new Yankee Stadium and it’s cozy right field post. I honestly look more forward to writing this post than the longest homers post each year because these cheap homers make me laugh.

The shortest homer in baseball this year was, of course, an inside the parker. Brandon Barnes hit it and it only traveled 304 feet. Yes, there was a missed dive involved. Here’s the video. Usually there are a few 200-something-foot inside the parkers that bloop in and take a weird bounce by an outfielder, but not this year apparently. The shortest homerun to actually leave the yard this season was this David Ortiz blast that wrapped out the Pesky Pole, which traveled only 318 feet. Only two other dingers traveled less than 330 feet this year. Here are the 2012 and 2013 shortest homeruns posts. Now for the 2014 edition.

5. July 2nd: Brian McCann vs. Jake Odorizzi

As you might suspect, Yankee Stadium will be featured prominently in this post. The fifth shortest homer of the Yankees’ season was a cheapie to right field, the kind of homer that McCann was never able to hit in Turner Field all those years with the Braves. Odorizzi left a 90 mph heater up in the zone, McCann flicked his wrists, and hit a high fly ball that landed just beyond the wall in the field field corner. This one had a nice big arch to it. Hit Tracker says it traveled 342 feet, which is hard to believe. Doesn’t look like it went much farther than the 314 on the wall, but whatever. The dinger left McCann’s bat at 94.5 mph.

4. August 23rd: Carlos Beltran vs. Scott Carroll

This homerun a) came on Joe Torre Day at Yankee Stadium, and b) was so short that White Sox manager Robin Ventura had it reviewed to make sure a fan didn’t reach over the wall to grab it. The replay confirmed the initial call though, that it left the yard for a sixth inning solo homerun. Beltran had just received a cortisone shot in his troublesome elbow, and even though it barely snuck over the wall, it was a sign he was feeling good enough to swing the bat. The ball traveled only 339 feet with an exit velocity of 94.4 mph.

3. September 24th: Mark Teixeira vs. Brad Brach

Technically, this homer didn’t go over the fence. It was stopped short by the foul pole. This Teixeira blast was the team’s third shortest homer of the year, clanking off the bottom of the pole in right field. I’d say no more than 10-15 feet up the pole from the top of the wall. In a park with a normal sized right field, it would have continued to slice foul and that would be that. The at-bat would have continued. Instead, the Yankees walked away with a pair of runs. Yankee Stadium giveth and Yankees Stadium taketh, I guess. Teixeira’s dinger traveled only 335 feet and left his bat at 98.5 mph.

2. September 14th: Brian McCann vs. Darren O’Day

Believe it or not, this short dinger was not hit at Yankee Stadium. It was hit at Camden Yards and it was kind of a big deal for a few minutes. The Yankees were barely hanging on in the wildcard race at the time and they were tied 1-1 with the Orioles in the ninth inning on Sunday Night Baseball. O’Day’s sinker stayed out over the plate and didn’t sink, a pitch that is more or less a batting practice fastball coming from an opposite hand sidearmer. McCann hammered it to right and just over the big wall with the scoreboard. The Yankees eventually lost the game in walk-off fashion but, for at least a little while, McCann gave the team some hope. This homer went 333 feet with a 97.7 mph exit velocity.

1. June 17th: Brett Gardner vs. Marcus Stroman

I’m disappointed Gardner hit the shortest homer of the season because it’s almost cliche. The scrappy little speed guy willing the ball just over the fence, that sorta thing. Lame. Anyway, this was nothing more than a hanging slider that Gardner tomahawked down the right field line and off the Yankee Stadium foul ball. Teixeira’s ball clanked 10-15 up the pole, right? This one hit about six feet up the pole, that’s all. It was barely high enough and it would have sailed foul had right feet been 315 feet away from home plate instead of 314 feet away. At 331 feet and 98.9 mph off the bat, this was the shortest homer hit by a Yankee and fourth shortest outside the park homerun in baseball overall this past season. Though I guess it really didn’t leave the park. You know what I mean.

Editorial: Maybe It’s Not For You?

A quick thought on the whole Derek Jeter retirement media blitz and the criticism associated with it by pundits who simply want their voice heard.  Maybe all of this just isn’t meant for you.  Maybe the fans are the target audience (as well as people who consume products)?  Maybe there’s a time and a place for your negative voice, but for the love of baseball let some of us just enjoy it.  Take your rants about selfishness and put them aside for a few days and just let people who want to celebrate the man’s career do so.

Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports
Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports

A patch, a t-shirt, a commercial … is it really all that damning?  Consider that at some point blind love for the game might have been part of your life, but you’ve changed your focus on drawing attention to yourself.  I understand many people want to push their agendas to increase page views, TV or radio ratings but the general negative sentiment seems so opposite to what we’ve seen of people in the past regarding Jeter.

Bloggers, loudmouth TV chat show hosts, you name it have spent the last few weeks jumping and stomping all over the thing some of us are simply trying to enjoy, saying goodbye.  Derek represents a lot to some of us and stomping on other’s enjoyment seems just as selfish as anything these pundits complain about.  What’s the point?  To have a voice louder than the fans?  You already have that, people probably pay you to have it.  But there’s really no need to keep making others feel like they are lesser people because you don’t gather the same joy from saying goodbye as we do.

Some of these thoughts are disorganized because by trade I am not a writer/blogger.  I am also not stating that one shouldn’t speak negatively of Derek Jeter.  But to be honest I think I share many people’s opinion when I say, “Shut up and let us enjoy.”  This isn’t for you, because you’re not a fan anymore.

Meet the Yankees’ new good luck charm: Shawn Kelley’s horse mask

Here’s a fun little story in the middle of the Yankees’ five-game winning streak. Jeff Passan wrote about the 2014 version of Jason Giambi‘s gold thong: Shawn Kelley’s horse mask. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a giant latex horse mask. Here’s a photo. Apparently Kelley stumbled across it online one day, bought one, and started wearing it during pre-game warm-ups and in the clubhouse to keep the team loose.

“When I see those things, randomly in a crowd, it makes me laugh. So I figured I’ll do that, and it’ll make everyone laugh in the clubhouse,” said Kelley. “And then we went on a winning streak.” The Yankees are a perfect 5-0 since the horse mask they’ve dubbed Seabiscuit — they really dropped the ball by not called it Tex or Teixeira or something like that — so it stays. Baseball players are a superstitious lot. Say it with me, folks: the latex horse mask that turned the season around.

No Podcast Today

Well this is a record, two posts in one day from me.  Unfortunately we won’t have a podcast for you tonight.  But there’s a good reason, fellow RAB contributor and a really good friend, Joe Pawlikowski and his lovely wife have welcomed a new baby daughter.  I pushed for the name “1998 New York Yankees Pawlikowski” but i was overruled as I am just the servers guy, not the baby guy.   Welcome to the RAB family little Veronica, and congrats to Joe, his wife and family.

We’ll be back on the regular podcast schedule Thursday to talk more Yanks!